Watson Lake – Prescott, Az
Watson Lake – Prescott, Az
Watson Lake – Prescott, Az
I’ve been getting together the plans for this summer and the outlook for excellent adventure seems high! The first and main backpacking trip of the summer is the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne. I have never been to Yosemite and it’s been on the list for a long time. Since it’s in the middle of the crowded time I was pretty happy that this is the permit I ended up getting my hands on! We’ll be in Tuolumne, the Yosemite high country, which should be a little less crowded than the valley, To make things better I’ve got two longtime friends coming along, one I met the first day of kindergarten.
The hike is a 33 mile point to point hike that follows the Tuolumne River through an amazing looking canyon with a number of awesome waterfalls. We’re planning on 4 days and 3 nights of hiking, most of the days shouldn’t be too bad distance-wise so hopefully we’ll get some time to chill by the waterfalls and check things out! My friends are flying in and out of Vegas, so we’ll cruise through Death Valley National Park on our way back. Maybe stop by Star Wars Canyon or Badwater Basin! Really looking forward to a point to point backpack in an amazing place with good friends.
The next adventure will be a big one! It’s my friends 50th birthday the first week of September, and he reserved a group campsite right outside of Grand Canyon National Park. I’m going to drive up Friday, get the campsite set-up and chill for the evening. The next morning I’m going to wake up early and do the South Kaibab to Bright Angel Hike. I’d like to do it under 8 hours, so I’m going for fast and light mode. That puts me back at the campground in the early afternoon. I’ll hang out Saturday night and Sunday assisting my friend in his birthday celebrating.
Monday morning it’ll be time to get up and get on the road to the Whitney Portal. That’s right, I scored a day permit for Mt Whitney! I have a reserved campsite at the Whitney Portal Campground, and hope to get there and get all set up by 4pm. After that I’m going to try to sleep for a few hours and get started with the hike about midnight. I’d like to do the hike in about 12 hours, putting me back at the campsite around noon. The rest of the day will be about refueling and resting up as much as possible, while still getting a good night’s sleep.
Wednesday morning will be another morning to get up and get going because we’re headed back to Yosemite. It’s time to tick Half Dome off the list! I’ll hit the road to the Lower Pines campground as early as possible, once I get to the valley I’ll get set-up, get my permit and take in the majesty of Yosemite Valley. I hope that being there in September will take the crowds down a little compared to the height of the summer, we’ll see…
Thursday morning I’ll probably try to start hiking about 3-4am to ensure I beat the crowds and any weather. After what I think will be an amazing hike, it’ll be back to the campsite to chill the rest of the day and then head back to Phoenix Friday morning.
Permit/reservation-wise, the Grand Canyon campsite is taken care of and I don’t need a permit for a day hike. I have a Day Whitney permit and reserved campsite at Whitney Portal. The only big hurdle left is the Yosemite stuff. I find out Monday the 11th if I get a Half Dome Permit, and on the 15th I can try and make a Lower Pines Campground reservation. If I don’t get a half dome permit but am able to get a campsite I’ll probably still go and try and get a daily permit lottery slot.
I’m going to have to be pretty fit and get a little lucky with the weather, but I think I can pull this off. It’ll be fun to try, one way or another!
Took me a while to get the time to write this post but here goes:
I wanted to get in one more decent adventure before I had to delve into work for the season and what better way than an early fall hike of the Grand Canyon. It should be beautiful this time of year, right? The plan was to go down South Kaibab and up Bright Angel.
I feel very lucky that I have this amazing place so close to home, and that I was able to get a reservation at the Mather Campground in the park for Oct 11th and 12th. I headed out from the house in Phoenix and got to the park about 1pm. After getting the campsite all set up I cruised over to the rim to take in that magnificent view, it never gets old!
I had purchased a larger tent to try and take my wife and dog along on a camping trip, they would want a little extra space! That trip hadn’t happened yet, but we’re still talking about making it happen. I’ve used it as a basecamp tent a couple times in the summer, it was a relatively cheap but big tent with a vestibule…
There was a chance of snow so I set myself up for comfort, started a fire and enjoyed the night, After a bit it started to rain so I moved into the vestibule area, I had cell service at the campground so I was able to watch football for a bit to keep myself entertained.
When camping, once there’s no fire and it’s dark the clock is ticking before bed is the best option. Unsurprisingly pretty soon it was getting cold and it was time to climb into bed. It was a windy night, little bits of snow blew around in the tent all night and I was very thankful for my extra blankets!
The next morning I woke up to snow! It had snowed a least 2 inches throughout the night and it was still coming down. I knocked some snow off the roof of the vestibule and started up some coffee and oatmeal to get myself powered up and warm!
After getting on many layers I headed out to do the shuttle bus shuffle and get out to the South Kaibab Trailhead. There were a few people on the first bus over to the Grand Canyon Visitors Center, but it was just me and the driver on the second bus out to the trailhead. As I put on my micro-spikes I heard the driver’s radio say they were getting 75 mph gust on the rim, looking like a fine day for adventure!
It was pretty cold and windy around the trailhead so I hoisted my pack, fired up the Garmin and off I went! I was extremely glad to have the micro-spikes, I don’t think I would have started the hike without them, there were a number of places you could slide off the trail on ice, but they held firm!
I started the hike knowing if conditions continued to deteriorate I could cut across to Indian Garden on the Tonto Trail instead of going to the bottom. I really wanted to get to the bottom, but always want to make sure I’m safe, especially when I’m alone.
As I approached Ooh Aah Point I started to really be able to feel the wind, pretty soon I was worried about being blown over and my ability to get past this point, or having to crawl along! Fortunately after a few minutes the wind died down enough for me to quickly pass that point and get back to a more sheltered part of the trail.
After Ooh Aah Point the snow kept up, and I just kept heading down. I was well dressed for the conditions and felt comfortable the whole time. The wind started to pick-up again as I made my way to Cedar Ridge. I still had the option of taking the Tonto Trail to Indian Garden instead of going to the bottom, I was going to keep assessing until I got to the trail junction below Skeleton Point. The update from Cedar Ridge below:
Below Skeleton Point the weather really started to improve, I could start losing some layers and had already taken off the micro-spikes. At that point I decided that unless the weather took a surprising bad turn I was headed to the bottom.
Down through the tunnel and out on to the black bridge is always awesome, I wanted to get back to the rim before it got too late so I skipped Phantom Ranch and just kept on rolling along.
Took a break at the River Rest House and fueled up, but pretty much kicked to the top from there. The last mile is always kind of tough, at that point I’m ready to be done, you can hear people up on the rim talking but it just keeps winding around bends! Like all hikes if you keep going pretty soon you top out and can congratulate yourself!
I had to catch the bus back to the campground and then walk a bit back to my campsite. I had started to get cold on the bus ride, and walking up the road to my campsite I just wanted to get in my warm bed for a bit and eat something nice and filling.
Unfortunately: while I was hiking the snow built up on my tent (something this particular tent is not designed for) and collapsed it. So, instead of relaxing I had to drag the rain fly with 300 pounds of snow on it off of the tent, get my stuff out, and load the truck. I also took the tent, snapped poles and all and threw it away in a dumpster,
Fortunately: I found a hotel room a few miles down the road. With a low that of 20, it was not too bad! I had a very nice warm shower, found a place to have a steak and relaxed.
Overall another fun, adventurous time at the Grand Canyon!