Day 57, 15 miles, short creek
Unbelievable, it got down to freezing again last night! My water hose is frozen and there is frost on the grass. I hadn’t expected that at 5000 ft.
Also unexpected is the fact that one of the earbuds of my headphones is missing. It appears to be chewed off. The other one is still there but also damaged. I guess there really was a critter milling around last night and I wasn’t imagining things. It must have been just as sad as I am that there wasn’t any food up for grabs. Haha. Let’s hope they have new ones at the market today.
I put on all my clothes plus the Frogg Togg pants Prana found in the wash a ways back and my very worn rain jacket. It’s just that cold again. Once the sun comes out things warm up a bit too much for me. I had hoped to keep on my long layers so I wouldn’t show as much skin in Colorado city. A few miles along on the highway I start overheating however so I’m back to my summer dress again.
The Bee’s Market is just at the edge of Colorado City and a good place for resupply. Since there don’t seem to be any restaurants in town I buy some muffins and hot coffee. I’m so happy to see the hot coffee! I also buy all my food for the resupply and yoghurt and a fruit juice to consume right away. I repack outside in the blazing sun while I’m wearing the long sleeve shirt and long johns I had put back on to be conservative and blend in more with the ladies with all the long skirts. I’m also catching up with Greenleaf and Facebook and friends.
(Things I try to only eat on trail…)
(The healthier stuff.)
I realize I forgot to buy toilet paper so go back in but they don’t sell singles. I pick up a pack of four and want to leave three behind. The lady at the register is nice enough to find me a single roll but it’s ginormous. I stick with the pack of four and offer the other three to the customer behind me. She’s happy to take them of my hands. Problem solved!
I’d also bought a big can of cold coke and find a shadier spot to update my journal. I sit under a nice tree for a while when I notice the no loitering sign in front of the store. I’ve been here for an hour at least! Too funny.
I finally walk on walking and talking on the phone using the new headphones with microphone. I must look like one of those crazy people talking to themselves. But hey it makes the roadwalk a lot more enjoyable. I even get to talk to my mom for quite a bit. I have to hang up on her however when my bladder is finally catching up on all the drinks I’ve been downing in the last hour. Luckily there is a Dollar Store with a bathroom right there.
I now vaguely remember reading somewhere that there would be a dollar store here but I’d forgotten. I wish I hadn’t, this place is a lot cheaper for snacks! The owner lets me use the bathroom but lets me know that I can’t wash or brush my teeth in there. Apparently they once had a butt naked guy in the restroom and now they don’t want people lingering and washing. Okiedokie, understood. Otherwise it’s a nice guy. He tells me there is a pizza place and bakery in town. What?? I’ve been loitering at the supermarket and there is a bakery in town?? Oh boy.
I’m now determined to get some pizza. Even though I stuffed my face at the grocery store I can’t not have pizza before leaving town. It’s against thru hiker code. Seriously.
Town is interesting with a bunch of dilapidated buildings and big fences but there is a side walk which I’m excited about. Just across from the post office is the promised bakery/pizza place and it’s great! I’m not sure how much I can eat so start with one slice. It goes down well. Another slice then and a cup of hot tea. I have some fun conversations with the girl who works there and another customer. The customer is trying to set up a brewery in town but it’s tough with the Mormon community working against him.
I enjoy this nice place sipping my tea and updating my journal on Trailjournals as well. It was a bit behind from the WordPress one. When I’m finally done with that I order a piece of cheese cake to go and am ready to continue hiking.
I’ve seen a few more people in less conservative dress in town and had gotten hot so packed the long johns away. To my surprise I get whistled at. Really? I haven’t shaved my legs in two months, they look burly and I haven’t showered in a week. Yeah I feel very attractive. Not.
Now I’m back to feeling self conscious again and I see some cars slowing down and one of them stopped after passing me. When I near him he drives on. I’d put the long johns back on but it’s so dang hot out. Ugh.
I’m happy to get to the trailhead and start hiking down the wash. It’s the Squirrel creek trailhead so I think the split between Water canyon and Short creek is here. I don’t think too much about it and start walking down the canyon. It gets prettier the further I get in. At some point I see a road on my left and am confused. That doesn’t match with what I remember from the map. Oops! I’m in Water canyon! I have to back track and probably wasted about half an hour. At least it was pretty in there.
Now back on track, I criss cross the creek and get wet feet once again. I’m a bit zapped from all the excitement today and hanging out in the sun at the supermarket. It also looks like it might rain tonight so when I find a nice place to set up my tent I’m calling it good.
I finally take the time to add up the miles left until the end. I bought food based on Buck30’s days without thinking too much about it. As it turns out I totally messed up there. I must have included the zero day he took. I’m actually much closer to Zion than I thought! Which means I should have enough time to hike the Zion extension to Lee’s pass and I have enough food to get there. I’m excited!!
There is also much excitement going on in my stomach. All that food and the drinks are cooking up a storm.
Day 55, 27.5 miles, hack canyon
I think I got kissed by a frog last night. Something wet landed on my face and then jumped off. Yuck! Otherwise the camp site was lovely.
The walking is a bit easier this morning and it’s so pretty. The creek runs dry a little ways in and it’s such a weird eerie sight. Same canyon but super dry, it feels like a boulder graveyard. Sounds echo and are not drowned out by rushing water.
To my surprise it’s starts running again a few miles later. Wet feet once again. I have lunch next to the stream and it’s lovely. Brenna and Nicole haven’t caught up and I don’t see them again.
Now there are some horse trails to follow which makes the going a lot faster and I’m at the Hack Canyon turn off before I know it. There is some sort of trail through most of it. And there is a spring as well. Only thing is, my notes say it’s radio active so I better not drink that water. I wonder about the cows around here though. They are obviously drinking it, how does that affect them? And what does it do their milk or meat? Mmmm…
Eventually I make it to a dirt road and a register. Cheetah is now a day ahead, he’s moving fast again. I push on so I’ll be close to my water cache at Hack reservoir and hopefully will make it to Colorado city before I’m out of food. Rations are getting pretty low.
I find a bit of gravel to sleep on in the dark, and interesting place to sleep but it’ll do.
Day 54, 14 miles, shower bath springs
I start hiking around 5:30 am to hopefully beat the harsh sun getting over the ‘most tedious boulder field ever’ as it’s labeled on the map. The hiking is indeed slow over boulders but at least it’s not nerve wrecking. I actually expected worse after that description and the one in the guidebook.
There is definitely something blooming in the canyon that I’m reacting to. I’m congested again like I was earlier in the canyon. I take some anti congestion medicine and it seems to be working. At least I seem to be breathing a little easier.
While I’m careful not to trip and twist my ankle on the rocks I completely miss the snake who is curled up asleep on my path. I see him when I’m stepping over him. Eep!
Brenna and Nicole catch up with less than a half mile of bouldering to go and we have lunch at the Kanab Rapids. It’ll be our last break at the Colorado River so I soak up the view.
There is a big motor raft beached but nobody is around. I keep hoping for Pringles (I’ve heard it’s a rafting staple) but no such luck. Perhaps if we had waited ten more minutes for the boat man to return from his swimming hole we could have had some. He seemed really nice and asked us if we needed anything but by that time we were already in Kanab Canyon. Haha.
Kanab Canyon is a beauty but it’s also slow going. We criss cross the creek many times and have to find our way around giant boulders. The water is warmer than the Colorado River and we go swimming. I’m finally hiking with others who like swimming! Woohooo!! It’s been cloudy all morning which has been great for our time along the Colorado but now it’s getting hotter so the swim is nice and refreshing. It’s so good that I do another quick dunk a while later.
All the hiking today has been tough going but so beautiful! We end up at Showerbath Springs which is flowing well. The water is coming down from a giant overhang and ferns are abundant. It’s gorgeous.
To get there there is one last obstacle. Brenna offers to get my pack so I can climb it. Without my pack I instead elect to wade around. The water is a little deeper than I anticipated however and I end up full on swimming around the giant boulder. Wheeee!!! A little chilly at the end of the day.
Since I’m soaked already I pose for a picture underneath the shower bath springs. After the sun goes down the frogs go crazy and I’m currently listening to a very loud choir of frog songs. Yowza!
Day 53, 19.5 Miles, fishtail rapids
It’s sooo cold in the morning! It must have been around freezing again.
We continue the road walk and soon lose the snow. I thought there would be water at a mapped water tank but the cows are gone and there is no water. Luckily we all have some left from last night’s puddle.
The last road we’re on is all cleaned up and driveable and we see one car drive by and a few parked at and several overlooks. At the first overlook we chat with the people there. They have a nice setup to sleep in their car and their view is amazing. We snap some photos and ask if they have some water to spare. Luckily they do and now we enough to get us to Deer springs close to the bottom of the canyon. We don’t know how hot is going to be so we’re happy with the extra.
We arrive at the Bill Hall trail which is the trail we’ll be taking down. There is a sign which has photos and descriptions of two missing hikers. I heard that they were swept away at Tapeats creek. It gives me the chills. Those poor people.
We continue to a nice viewpoint and have a snack. It’s weird to go down to the Canyon again. Yesterday I was pretty sure I was going to roadwalk all the way to Colorado City but this morning I was feeling good and ready to take the trail again. It’s funny what some easier hiking, food and good company can do.
The Bill Hall trail turns out to be a really cool trail. It has a long section of slick rock and we even see a condor. It’s flies very close to us. So cool!
We find a nice shady overhang for lunch which is great since it is getting hot again. The wildflowers are abundant. Pinks, orange, yellow.
When we get to Deer springs I’m impressed. It looks like a giant water fall flowing straight out of the rock. Very powerful flow.
We’ve seen some hikers today and there are a bunch camping down here. It’s a beautiful spot and it gets even better when we walk on. There are narrows with the creek flowing through to the Colorado River. We walk along on ledges and peer down to the water below. At some point it’s so deep down and narrow that I can’t even see the water anymore.
Back at the Colorado we have to find our way on game trails to Fishtail Rapids. Once we find the trail it’s not that challenging but getting there has us go on a steep gravel slope and I’m terrified of slipping. I hope there is actually an easier way to get up there but for now I’m glad we survived.
I did have a run in with a cactus. Ouch!
We get to a little beach at Fishtail Rapids just before dark and I’m pooped. That was a long day of hiking!
Day 52, 23 miles
We’re hiking on and off in snow today. In the morning it’s easier to walk on since we don’t sink in at all. Later it gets a bit softer but we don’t have any serious postholing. There are numerous fallen trees over the road which we have to scramble over or crawl under. It doesn’t make for the fastest road walking ever. Springs are gushing and flooding the road, it’s pretty impressive.
At one point Brenna spots another bison, I see a big brown mass moving and Nicole misses it altogether. I also see three big birds soaring up in the sky.
I walk by myself in the morning and check out a lookout tower but unfortunately the cabin is locked and there isn’t too much of a view from the stairs.
I catch up to Brenna and Nicole at their lunch break and we walk together the rest of the day. They’re great company.
Nicole wishes for a fire ring at camp and we actually find one right around the time we want to stop hiking. Perfect!
Brenna builds a small fire and we enjoy the warmth while having dinner. How sweet!
Day 51, 18 miles, at viewpoint over the canyon
I start hiking at 4 am to make sure that I will make it through the closed trail section before 8 am. I only have to cover about 5 miles but I’m not sure how steep the climb is and how slow I’ll be. As it turns out I could have slept another hour but then I would have been worried.
The trail goes by roaring springs and the waterfalls across the valley are indeed roaring. So much water!
When I get closer to the north rim there is a helicopter below. I’m impressed with the ability to fly and land in such a narrow canyon. The work crew is walking down past me now and there is another crew doing trail work about 1/3 mile from the rim. I thank them for their work.
Finally done climbing I lay out my pad in a sunny spot and rest and snack some. There is quite a bit of snow around but the road is dry. Cheetah shows up and then Brenna and Nicole. Cheetah takes off before we do and I hike with Brenna and Nicole on and off for the rest of the day. They’re great company.
We follow a tiny bit of Arizona Trail to the Point Sublime road and walk in patchy snow. It’s beautiful up here with big ponderosa pines and some aspen. Melt water is streaming all around. Our feet are getting pretty wet but at least we don’t have to worry about running out of water.
We are chatting away and wondering if the big footprints in the snow are from cows which wouldn’t make sense since we’re still within national park boundaries. Then we see them. A small herd of bison! About a dozen of them are grazing right in front of us! So cool! They’re not as tame as the ones I’ve seen in Yellowstone as they run off as we get closer.
We continue our roadwalk and find an excellent place to set up camp. We have a great view across the canyon towards the south rim and mountains in the distance. Dinner is on some cool rock formations while we soak up the views. Good times!
Day 50, 15 miles, Cottonwood campground
I have some coffee with Ben or ‘Cheetah’ a fellow Hayduker. He sets off down the canyon while I take care of my resupply. I’m pretty sure I’m buying too much food but it all looks so good.
When I’m in my tent organizing my food bag, the Hungarian hiker I met yesterday stops by and says he couldn’t get any permits until Friday. I invite him to come with me to Cottonwood since I have a permit for two people still (I was hoping someone would join me for this stretch). He looks pretty fit and I ask him if he thinks he can do the mileage. He thinks so and we make a plan to meet in about an hour and then head down the canyon.
I make some phone calls, pack up and we’re at the south Kaibab trailhead around 12:30pm. It’s a nice temperature at the rim with a sweet breeze and the down hill hike isn’t too bad. My backpack is very heavy again because of all the food but this stretch might take 8 days. Who knows?
Loads of tourists are hiking down and up. The up does not look pleasant. Some mule trains pass us going up as well.
The views are obviously awesome again and Jan (I’m shortening my Hungarian friend’s name here because I don’t know the actual spelling) gets to see the Colorado River for the first time. We snap a few pictures and continue on. He wants to hike a section of the PCT this spring and we talk about what it’s like. Yes, the trail will be easier than this trail. Haha.
We make it to Bright Angel Campground around 3:30 and do a late lunch in the shade. I love this place!
The Bright Angel creek is rushing, I haven’t seen it this wild before. All the snowmelt from the north rim must be feeding it.
We both enjoy the last seven miles in the shady canyon towards Cottonwood camp and to my surprise Cheetah is there. I thought he would have hiked on to the north rim already. And there’s more! I’ve finally caught up to Brenna and Nicole! I’ve been seeing their footsteps since day 1. It’s so fun to meet them and exchange experiences. They had a rough one at it in the Bull Valley Gorge as well. It even started raining on them. And the day I stayed in my tent all day they were getting snowed on in Bryce. Ugh.
We all talk about the stretch coming up and are worried about Tapeats Creek. Two of my phone calls this morning were with my friend Sirena and her friend. Both very knowledgeable about the Grand Canyon. The confirm my concern about hiking Tapeats creek and Saddle canyon. Saddle canyon might be doable but both will have lots of water and might not be safe. Sirena suggests a road walk around and that sounds like a good idea to me. I
tell the other Haydukers about my plan to road walk around the dangerous section and they had been thinking along similar lines.
It’s too bad I have to cut the chatting short since I have to get up really early tomorrow morning. There is a work crew out on the north Kaibab trail during the day and the trail will be closed during that time. We can pass through if we make it to Supai tunnel before 8am. That means getting up before daylight. Sigh.
Day 49, zero miles.
I am TIRED and homesick. Rest and more food are in order. I post on Facebook that I miss my friends and good trail and that I’m tempted to call it quits. I receive lots of encouragement and that’s just what I needed. Thanks everyone!!!
Day 48, 11.5 miles
I wake up at 4am and am on the trail soon after. The trail is good and the sunrise is amazing! I can’t stop snapping pictures. It goes from soft pretty light to blazing colors. I love it!!
It takes me a while to get up to the rim but when I hit the road I am cruising. It’s not all that busy, I have my cushy sandals on and even see three elk really close up. Why is it that I see most wildlife when I’m walking on roads? One of the elk casually saunters across the road not perturbed by the cars who stopped to take photos. I got some good ones on my camera. I’ll post them later.
I love love the ponderosa pines and breathe deeply. At a picnic area I eat some food and am still amazed at how much I ate these past days. All that extra food it’s mostly gone!
After about 9 miles of road walking I arrive at the south Kaibab trailhead and hop on the free shuttle bus to the village. Once at the village I watch a movie about the park and am basically overwhelmed for a while trying to figure out where to go. I eventually find a hiker site for $6 at the Mather campground and chat with some hikers there. And I eat lots of food. Obviously.