Sunday, March 25, 2012

Grand Canyon- Hermit Trail

Scott, Paul and Paul, Jessie, Josh (later called the JJ's), John and I headed down the Hermit trail on Thursday morning, March 15, 2012.   The Hermit trail was built in the early 1900's by horse thieves and later developed for the luxury Hermit camp.  The hermit camp thrived because the Bright Angel trail charged a toll and people being people, chose the free trail and Grand Canyon experience.  The stone work on the trail is remarkable showing the effort and care put into making this trail. 
Brickwork on steep areas of Hermit trail
A rocking bench at Santa Maria Springs. 2.5 miles down the Hermit trail
Trail sign
The men determining the names of each peak
About 6 hours and 9.3 miles later, we arrived at Monument Creek.  Scott, being the ever eager, speedy hiker, had zoomed ahead securing the group site sitting above the camp ground.  The views of the Monument were spectacular and the weather was so incredibly warm and comfortable. Besides my toes throbbing from the hike down with my toes being forced into the shoe, I slept well using my sleeping bag liner and my sleeping bag was completely open and unzipped because the temperature was so perfect.

Our camp with the monument in the background
In the Grand Canyon, there are some designated campgrounds and at this location, there was a toilet.  Three of them to be exact.  Three, side by side,open air,  filled with wood chips and a small wall separating them.  Unless you were very friendly with someone, you wouldn't want to walk up to the toilets while someone was there.  I really wish I had a picture to show you just how unusual and awkward these are.

Day two we hiked 1.5 miles down to Granite Rapids where we watched two shows of rafters and kayakers going through the rapids.  While we were at the rapids, little mice were chewing their way through Paul's backpack and filling up on a Clifbar.

When we arrived at camp I said their were mosquito's and no one believed me.  There's no standing water I was told and there aren't mosquito's in the Canyon.  That night the frogs were singing happily because of all the mosquitoes they were eating.  Two days later the entire group agreed with me there indeed were mosquitoes.

Day three we hiked the three'ish miles from Monument to Hermit campground. Along the way we strayed off the path to see the old Hermits camp. During it's time it was a luxury camp with a tram where they even dismantled a Model T and brought it down the cables and put it back together on the Tonto.  They couldn't have driven the car very far but it must have been good entertainment. When the park service took over the Bright Angel trail and the toll ceased, Phantom Ranch became an overnight success and Hermit camp was tore down but the footprints of the building remain along with the cable pulleys.

 When we arrived at Hermit at 11am, Scott, Jessie and Josh were staring up at us from a group site and Scott's tent wasn't set up yet. What I thought was Scott wasn't sure if he liked that site or was waiting for someone else to leave so we could get a better site.  The real reason Scott hadn't set up yet is because EVERYONE in the campground had left due to the impending storm. The storm was to bring rain and 2 feet of snow at the top. If we were to hike out then, we needed to get moving for our 5-6 hour hike. Luckily we decided to stay and see what happened.  It makes for a better story anyways.

Paul, John and I set up our tent under a ledge 1/2 mile down the river and Scott and the JJ's set up under another ledge.  The other Paul set up in a different campsite, open to the elements.

After camp was set up we headed down to Hermits rapid which was running fast and seemed bigger than Granite Rapids from the day before. While we were down at the rapids the little mice were filling up on something super tasty in Jessie's backpack (although there was nothing in there).
John and I at Hermit Rapids
The rain started at 7:30pm and we climbed into the safety of our tent. What we didn't realize was the clothes at the edge and bottom of the tent would become drenched from the rain pouring down throughout the night. The morning weather was cold  but my toes were freezing when I squished my feet into the cold and sopping wet boots.  My feet warmed up along with the rest of my body as we stared hiking out just before 7am in the very light rain.
The snow up on the peaks was beautiful
As we climbed higher the bushes gathered snow on the branches on the side of the trail. After Santa Maria springs the dirt on the trail was replaced with snow. The last mile the snow was a foot deep and I followed the footsteps of Paul and Scott who had left earlier leading the way out.
Above Santa Maria Springs before the snow covered the ground. This is the same Dripping Springs sign as above

It was snowing again at the top and we climbed into Scott's car where Scott and Paul were waiting, to warm up. I grabbed my dry socks stored carefully in a zip lock bag and waited for Paul and the JJ's. On the way home the snow continued to fall and our adventure continued when we got snowed in and spent the night in a hotel on the side of the road.

Each trip into the Grand Canyon I think "this is my favorite".  Three days down the Hermit trail in monument Creek and Hermit Creek succeeded in being another awesome trail and experience into the Grand Canyon.

1 comment:

Black Knight said...

What a wonderful place for the trail and to visit. By the pictures i can only imagine your feelings while looking at those rocks. I made a trip to Grand Canyon in 2000 and I cannot forget the landscapes and the unbelievable silence.