Working in the restaurant industry in Phoenix necessitates taking vacations during the summer. While it can be a little warm in Phoenix, I’m still able to do a decent amount of outdoor activities and get away for some cool backpacking.
One of the first escapes should be a few days car camping with my wife. I just recently got us a 6 man tent, for excellent comfort in the campgrounds. While I enjoy the backpacking experience immensely, some comfy car camping is fun as well!
After that comes the Colorado backpacking trip, usually the highlight of the year for outdoor adventures. The past few years, for various reasons (impressive volumes of rain and wind or serious lack of precipitations), we haven’t been able to have a campfire. Really hoping for a few small campfires to sit around this time. Heading to an area around the continental divide, moving between some lakes. After a long hectic season of work the simplicity of backpacking and the beauty of the mountains help recharge the spirit. I feel like I can live pretty comfortably while backpacking, the REI Co-op Double Shot Press Mug doesn’t hurt (apparently it’s not available anymore, but I bet you can something similar). A real cup of coffee sure makes mornings in the mountains exceedingly nice.
Then in early September it’s back to the Grand Canyon! There will be four of us this time, should be a fun group. We’re going about two weeks later than last year, but it’s early September so it will probably still be pretty hot! As usual, i’m sure we’ll challenge ourselves. So we’ve got that goin’ for us , which is fun. The canyon is such an amazing place, around every turn is another incredible picture!
If I mix in some SUPing out at the lakes around Phoenix, it should be a good summer.
In the 20 years that I had lived in Arizona I had been to the Grand Canyon once, and didn’t venture below the rim. I had heard such cool stories and seen many amazing pictures. I knew that I needed to experience it for myself, Fortunately, I was easily able to convince 2 friends to come along.
I applied a little late in the application time frame, but since it was an August date, not too much of a problem. We all live and recreate outdoors year round in Phoenix, So we’ve got that going for us, which is nice.
This was an awesome trip. Headed out from Phoenix around 10am, I love the excitement of leaving town for an adventure , you feel the city melt away! It’s about 4 hours from Phoenix, it’s a cool drive as you pass from the desert to high desert to mountains and back to high desert.
I Love This Sign
This sign is posted around the National Park Corridor Trails, it warns people of the challenging, extreme conditions hiking in the canyon can expose you to. While the warning is written in a few languages, I love the visual they gave to get the message across to almost anyone…
We could not have gotten luckier with the weather, we hiked in the around 4ish. We parked at the Backcountry Information Center and had to hop 2 buses over to the South Kaibab Trailhead. It’s amazing the number of foreign visitor the canyon gets. On the second bus I didn’t hear a single word of English. The first mile or so of our hike we were surrounded by a group of younger Italians, after Cedar Point we saw very few people, just us and the awesome canyon views!
It was dark by the time we got to Bright Angel Campground, we quietly set up camp, around many sleeping people. We strolled over to Boat Beach to chill for a bit, so as not to make too much noise. The only bummer about the campground is how close the sites are to each other, but flat space is pretty limited down there. One huge highlight, a flush toilet!! Here’s my Garmin track from the hike in.
The next day we hiked up North Kaibab Trail for a ways, just exploring around and enjoying being in such an amazing place. After that we headed back to the campground and cooled off by sitting in Bright Angel Creek, sooo nice!
A little later we walked over to the Canteen at Phantom Ranch and enjoyed a couple beers, not something that happens too often while backpacking. We started talking to the guy working the counter there. Pretty interesting guy who lives in upstate New York. He had been retired for 5-6 years, his wife had retired just a few years ago and told him he needed to get a job, so he did… at the bottom of the Grand Canyon!
We woke up pretty early the next morning, packed up camp and headed out for the Indian Garden campground about halfway up the Bright Angel Trail. This trail is completely different from South Kaibab, as it winds its way up through the natural weaknesses. Here’s my Garmin track from the hike to Indian Garden.
The hike to Indian Garden was a lot easier than I had expected. I suffered some at altitude in Colorado, apparently the altitude really kicked my ass because this entire hike felt relaxing. Indian Garden is another excellent campground. With ramadas and picnic tables at each campsite, it’s living in luxury!
We hiked out to Plateau Point for the view and it did not disappoint. Unfortunately for me the wind was kicking up and it looked like rain. I left my rain fly off to let the tent air out a little, so I got to run the mile and a half or so back to camp to get my rain fly on, good fun, I’m a genius!
After another even earlier wake up, we packed up and headed for the rim! The trail looks impossible when viewed from the campground but winds its way up though the weakness. The 3 rest-houses on the trail are great, nice little stops with water. Here’s my Garmin track from Indian Garden to the Rim. This was an amazing trip, and I can’t recommend it enough. I liked it so much I just faxed in my application for this September!!
Been slacking off on the blogging so trying to catch up a little bit, so here’s an overview of last summer’s Colorado backpacking adventure!
In late July we hit up 2 spots in South Central Colorado, the Blue Lakes and Ice Lake. They are both amazing alpine lakes, they do get some traffic, so during the week is the way to go!
The Blue Lakes of Colorado are near Ridgeway and Telluride. We drove up from Phoenix and made it to the Alta Lakes campground near Telluride. Cruised around Telluride a little the next day, picked up some supplies and off into the hills we went.
It’s 3 miles to Lower Blue Lake from the trailhead, feels pretty tough with a full pack and coming from the lowland of Phoenix doesn’t help. Found nice campsite and moved in. The past few years our backpacking as featured a lot of rain and this year was no exception!
The next morning after enjoying some coffee and waiting for the rain to stop, we head up to hike to the Upper Blue Lakes and I wanted to give Mt Sneffels a shot, the local 14er’. It was a nice hike up to and over the pass into Yankee Boy Basin, I made it about 2/3 of the way up the Lavender Couloir, before an approaching storm made me turn around. By the time I made it back to camp it was a full on thunderstorm. Hooray for smart choices in the mountains!
After hiking out from The Blue Lakes we drove over the huge Red Mountain Pass and into Silverton. After a quick resupply we headed off to the Ice Lake Traihead.
After a rainy, tough, but cool hike in we found ourselves a nice campsite, set up, got some dry clothes on and relaxed. Which is easy to do with views like these!
The hike to Upper Ice Lake is short but super steep! It is an amazing high alpine area once you get up there. We hung out up there hiking around and enjoying the area.
After 5 days in the tents it was time to head back to Phoenix, there’s nothing like these mountain escapes, so good for the mental state! The simplicity of backpacking and living out of a tent in an amazing place can’t be beat. Get out and Go!