Oct 06 Hike

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October 9, 2006 - Grand Canyon - 6 Days

Tanner Trail to Unkar Overlook


Again, for the fifth time, we find ourselves on the Tanner Trail. This year, Kathy and I introduced our 34 four year old son Jim to the Canyon, and we wanted a trail that we were familiar with. For his first backpack, he made out remarkably well, and we all had a great time.

The weather was ideal for the most part, except for the last night at the 75 Mile Saddle, when it rained all night, and continued right through our hike up to the rim the following morning. My Canon S110 Digital Elph was in my shirt pocket for the hike out, and although I was wearing a rain jacket, the sweat under the urethane lined jacket soaked the camera and it stopped working. After it dried out in the car, it gradually came back to life. I was looking forward to the excuse to buy a new camera, but now that will have to wait.

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Monday, October 9 - 

We were staying at the Cameron Trading Post Motel, about a half-hour drive from the Lipan Point trailhead. After having breakfast at the motel, we drove to the trailhead and were on the trail by 7:45am. The weather was partly cloudy, temperature of 42F,with a slight breeze. With one stop for snacks, we were at 75 Mile Saddle by 11am, and stopped there for lunch. Resuming our hike around noon, we contoured Escalante and Cardenas buttes, and were at the top of the Redwall overlook camp by 2:20pm. 

On the hike down, we had met four hikers. Two men had done an early morning day hike to the Redwall overlook, and a couple was finishing up a 5 day hike over to the LC. 

Dinner at 4pm was macaroni with tomato sauce and tortillas. We were in for the night before 6pm, and slept right through until the next morning. There was some light rain, and moderate wind, during the night.

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Tuesday, October 10 -

We packed up and were on the trail by 7:45am. The weather was partly cloudy, with a temperature of 50F and no wind. at 8:45, we were at the base of the Redwall, and stopped there for a breakfast of Granola cereal with milk. Around 9:30, we again started down the trail. In the Muav section is the only spot on the Tanner that I would call exposure. That is where a slide across the trail, with a narrow path and a short slope leading to a 50 foot dropoff, might give some concern to some people (see photo). We stopped for an extended break at 11:15am, and reached the Colorado River at 1:45pm. After lunch at the River, we started out for our Cardenas camp at 3pm, with a nice hiking temperature of 72F. It took a bit of searching to locate the camp we have used in the past on the far side of the sand dunes, but it was worth the effort. It is on the River, with a small private beach, and isolated enough from the trail that you would likely not run into any other hikers.

Dinner that evening consisted of turkey and gravy over rice, stuffing, green beans and tortillas, followed by hot chocolate and M&M's for a snack. I think my son was impressed that we could put together that kind of meal on a hike.

The River was running brown, and much time was spent over the next few days settling and filtering water, especially in preparation of a dry camp on the hike out. We tend to be conservative, and usually end up carrying more than we need, and filtering enough for three people was almost a full-time job.

The stars started coming out as soon as the sun set, and the Milky Way swath across the sky was impressive. The small black flies that are so numerous during the day disappear completely at dusk, coinciding with the first appearance of the bats.

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Wednesday, October 11 -

This day was spent mostly around camp, resting from the hike down. My son did some local exploring, while Kathy and I mostly watched the River go by. We saw one private raft trip come through on each of the three days we were camped on the River. 

Meals that day consisted of oatmeal and coffee for breakfast, peanut butter crackers for lunch, and macaroni and cheese for dinner, along with the ever-present tortillas. Somehow, I ended up carrying the entire 22 ounce package, and I tried at every opportunity to give them away. We carried an abundance of snacks like jerky, fruit bars, trail mix bars, M&M's and hard candy to fill in the gaps between meals.

That evening, there were no clouds at all in the sky, and we spent much time stargazing, and watching satellites and meteors traverse the sky. There are so many stars visible in the Canyon, it is very difficult to pick out the constellations we can so readily identify in our light polluted New England sky.

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Thursday, October 12 -

After an oatmeal breakfast, we packed some water and snacks in our day packs and started out for the Unkar Overlook at 10am. We visited the reconstructed ruin overlooking Canyon to the east, and then had lunch at the overlook above the rapids. The Anasazi settlement ruins across the River on the Unkar Delta are still quite prominent.

On the way back to camp, we checked out some shiny objects in an eddy, hoping to find some cold ones. On a previous trip to South Canyon, we found several cold beers swirling around, but no luck here.

We were starting our hike out the following morning, so my afternoon was spent settling and filtering water. The Sweetwater pump I use was already a few years old, but it did an admirable job even with these harsh water conditions.

Dinner tonight was another big one, with Chicken and gravy over rice, stuffing, and corn. Tortillas, anyone?

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Friday, October 13 -

We were up before 3am, packed up camp, and were on the trail before 4am. The quarter moon was bright enough that we needed our headlamps only in a couple of spots. At the Tanner drainage, we took a break and had some trail mix bars for breakfast. Further up the trail, we stopped for a longer break, and had some hot coffee and snacks.

I offloaded a couple of liters of water to a man hiking out with only one liter. He was making a water run to the rim, and then hiking back down to meet the other two in his party hiking up behind him. With the relatively cool weather, I still had plenty of water for our hike, and was now 4.4 pounds lighter.

We reached the Redwall base at 10:30, and hung out there for a couple of hours. Our destination was 75 Mile Saddle, and we were in no particular rush to get there. We reached our destination, and set up camp around 5pm, just as it started to rain. Our final dinner on the hike was macaroni and cheese, and of course tortillas. It rained heavy throughout the night.

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Saturday, October 14 -

It was still raining when we woke up, with low clouds and wind. Around 9:30 am, the rain became intermittent, and we made the decision to pack up camp. Of course, as soon as we took down the tents, the rain came again.

We had on our rain suits, and tarps over our packs, but we were all pretty much soaked by the time we reached the rim. The trail was slick mud in some spots, but mostly not too bad. The biggest concern was slides, and we heard quite a few rocks tumble down while we were hiking out.

When we reached the rim, the rain stopped and we enjoyed the sun peeking through the broken cloud cover. We changed into some dry clothes at the car, and headed our to our suite in Flagstaff, and a well deserved meal at the Red Lobster.

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