Day 46, 11.5 miles. Mile past Tanner Rapids.
Everyone wakes up early even though we don’t expect there to be any boats before 9 am. I stay in my sleeping bag for a while and receive some hot coffee! Yum! Have I told you yet that I love this group of people? Thanks David, Donna, Ronen, and Richard!!!
We position ourselves on the beach around 8 am, it’s a beautiful spot and still shady for a while. Around 9 Donna and one do the men go for a walk and when they come back they have another Hayduker in tow! It’s an excitable one and he’s planning on swimming across the Colorado because he doesn’t want to wait for a boat. He saw rafting companies at the mouth of the Nankoweap Creek and understood that they would stay there for a few days. Neither the swimming nor the several days hanging out sound good to me.
The fellow Hayduker starts blows up his Neo Air, folds it over and straps his pack on top. We all say we think it’s a bad idea and urge him to try a practice swim across the calm water near our spot. He doesn’t want to hear about it and is convinced the cold water won’t hurt him. I’m afraid he’ll cramp up and will get swept up by the current. If the water wasn’t so cold it wouldn’t be that big of a deal but even the guidebook authors warn against swimming across. The risk of not making it is just too high.
Thank the guardian angels, a fleet of boats shows up right before the swimming attempt takes off. It takes us awhile to get the message across. The boat captain doesn’t seem to understand that we just need a ride across. He eventually very reluctantly ferries us across. After all the great things we’ve heard from other hikers about rafting guides we are a bit surprised. I expected him to be friendlier. But oh well, I’m grateful to make it past this obstacle. I ask him if he thinks the Little Colorado is fordable and get him to drop us off near there. My companions were hoping for a drop off just past it so we wouldn’t have to ford it but we’re not pushing our luck here.
We land at a little beach just upstream from the Little Colorado and do get offered a beer or soda which is much appreciated. When Donna asks the captain really nicely if he would take our trash he decides we need a lesson in self reliance and says that obviously he has all this room but we should carry it out ourselves. Well there ya go! Again, I’m super grateful he ferried us across but it wasn’t the experience we had expected.
We now have to find a spot to safely cross the Little Colorado. It turns out not to be a big deal at all. The water is super milky so you can’t see how deep it is but fellow Hayduker is out of the gates quickly and I watch him to see how deep the water is. He crossed at the spot I kind of led everyone to and it looks good. I go for it and it’s fine. Not much deeper than my knees and only a bit of current. When I’m across I see my four new friends cross and take some pictures. I wait for them in the shade around the corner.
A short ways later I descend down to the Colorado river again to get some water. The Little Colorado was too silty and I hadn’t wanted to load up before in case the ford was tough and a lighter pack more desirable.
My companions go on ahead but I catch them at lunch in a nice shady spot. Yay!
We now have decent trail which is lovely. I break out in my usual hiking speed but soon regret it because I’m overheating. Crap. I find a giant boulder with overhang to sit under for a bit to cool down and then slowly continue hiking. I’m glad I got the extra water and make sure to stay hydrated and not overheat again.
Meanwhile the scenery is amazing. So so beautiful! The river is a mesmerizing emerald green, there are still lots of yellow flowers. The canyon walls, side canyons and layers are so cool to look at. I just wish the miles would go a bit easier. If I ever plan a trip here again, I would do what my group of friends is doing and just do 6 miles or so a day. That way you can hike early and enjoy lots of time at one of the sweet beaches in a shady spot.
I eventually catch up to them again and when we get near a lovely beach I fill up on water and dunk my body in the river. Whaaaa!!! So cold!!!
They have a cache nearby and left some items on the trail as markers so I could find them. Their cache is in a sweet shady spot and I hang out enjoying watching them open up their cache buckets. They were put there by the rafting company AZRA which it sounds like is a great company to book with.
Some foods get shared and I end up with some extra cheese. Awesome! I’d love to hang out longer with my friends but I’m already behind on my permit and I do want to get to out of the canyon sooner than later.
It appears that I can only take being in a canyon for so long before I get the urge to get out. I hadn’t expected it for this one since it’s so big and not as enclosed as some of the narrower ones I’ve been in on this trip but there it is. I gotta get out.
I’d been thinking about possibly skipping the Tonto trail and walk out the Grandview trail and then follow the road out. I’ve already hiked the Tonto trail and while it is beautiful it is also exposed and dry. It doesn’t have any of the nice beaches this stretch has. And I’m not sure how much more sun I can take. It’s not even really all that hot compared to some of the temperatures other hikers have had in the past. I don’t know how Buck30 did it during the heat wave he had. My hat’s off to him.
Anyway, I keep going back and forth on whether or not to hike it. It feels like the wimpy way out but then again it’s my hike and what do I care if others will think it’s the wimpy way out. I guess I’ll decide tomorrow.
For now the time had come to say goodbye to my friends and after some much appreciated hugs I continue on to the Tanner trail. The temperature are finally cooling off and I enjoy the evening’s hike. I relax, can move a bit faster and can finally take the sunglasses and visor off.
There are a lot of people camped near the Tanner trail and I’m still having a good time hiking so I continue on for a bit. It’s challenging at times to follow the trail since some of it is just following cairns and in the dark it’s not super obvious. I decide to call it quits about a mile further because I don’t want to find myself stuck on a ledgy section in the dark. I lay out my pad and sleeping bag and settle in for the night. It’s so warm still! I don’t even have to sleep with my socks on!