Grand Canyon NP Backpack Pt. 1 Thunder River Tr.-->Esplanade-->Tapeats-->Deer. April 18-23, 2021

John Morrow

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May 22, 2015
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689
Last leg of my Utah/Arizona 2021 Desert Trip. With the wonderful company of Kimberly S., Maureen S. and Rhonda M.

Here are the first three days: Thunder River Trail-->Esplanade Camp-->Tapeats Cr Camp-->Colorado River-Granite Narrows Route-->Deer Creek Camp. With a couple of desert scrambles along the way.

April 18th:
Down the Thunder River Trail from Indian Hollow Trailhead to a camp on the Esplanade near Bill Hall Trail Junction beneath Monument Point.


Getting started
by John Morrow, on Flickr


Kimberly crosses Deer Cr head
by John Morrow, on Flickr

Afternoon scramble of Bridgers Knoll 6602'. Route description I put on PB:
Route ascends occasionally loose-ish scree and vegetation up a steep slope above the Esplanade to the base of the limestone layers of the west face. An obvious ramp splits the limestone face from lower right to upper left. The ramp is wide but with loose footing. An alternative is the outside edge of the ramp on solid, but exposed, downward sloping limestone. Once through that layer a series of short steps leads through the west face of the short upper limestone layer below the summit block. Loose grit and rocks on ledges but mostly solid, otherwise. Memorable mountain on a less than memorable route!


Kimberly ascending ahead of smoke
by John Morrow, on Flickr


The crew on Bridgers Knoll summit
by John Morrow, on Flickr


Maureen on descent
by John Morrow, on Flickr


Our west face route
by John Morrow, on Flickr

April 19th:

Down Thunder River Trail to Surprise Valley, then Thunder Falls, and finally camp along Tapeats Creek.


About to descend to Surprise Valley
by John Morrow, on Flickr


Scale
by John Morrow, on Flickr


Cooled off and happy!
by John Morrow, on Flickr


Happy camp lounging
by John Morrow, on Flickr

I took a side jaunt up Cogswell Butte 4545'.
Route description on PB: N/NE Ridge is an enjoyable scramble on solid rock. Begin at the trail junction in Surprise Valley at the base of the ridge in a campsite. Gentle solid footing with occasional sandstone scrambling up higher leads to the crux. The Class 3 crux is an impeccably solid ten foot sculpted trough in the first limestone ledge. Blocky scrambling on limestone then leads to little upper red ledges and a final 20 foot limestone face rimming the summit. Take any number of fun vertical scramble routes or completely bypass on the west side by walking the base on a rising traverse (my descent).


North Ridge of Cogswell route
by John Morrow, on Flickr


Colorado River!
by John Morrow, on Flickr

April 20th:

Amazing day hiking down Tapeats Creek to the Colorado River. Then a use trail along the river known as the Granite Narrows Route took us to our next two night's camp in Deer Creek Canyon.


Climbing to descend????
by John Morrow, on Flickr


Gorgeous spot on Tapeats
by John Morrow, on Flickr


The Colorado!
by John Morrow, on Flickr


Maureen pauses to view
by John Morrow, on Flickr


beaches!
by John Morrow, on Flickr


Marueen crosses the Patio
by John Morrow, on Flickr


deepening narrows
by John Morrow, on Flickr


Funning
by John Morrow, on Flickr


Kimberly at Deer Falls
by John Morrow, on Flickr


Soon I hope to write up Part 2 April 21-23.

Full album:

 

napatony13

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Feb 5, 2021
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Beautiful pictures! This is the hike that convinced me (at age 59) that I needed to become a backpacker. In 2017 I went solo Bill Hall to DC and then across and made camp at Lower Tapeats, then hiked up TR and back out the next day. Didn't spend much time relaxing, but it was exhilarating and I have great memories. Did you cross the "ledge of death" or take the upper route along the River?

DSC00080 (2).JPG
 

Titans

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Very nice John, beautiful photos! Those ladies all look super happy :)
Do you know if that was a prescribed burn or already a wildfire burning?
 

John Morrow

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689
Very nice John, beautiful photos! Those ladies all look super happy :)
Do you know if that was a prescribed burn or already a wildfire burning?
While we were at Deer Cr a NPS crew arrived to retrieve the collar off of a deceased condor high in the Redwall. Nice group of strong young folks with climbing and biology backgrounds. I asked them about the smoke we endured a couple days prior and they said it was, indeed, a prescribed burn on South Rim (Unk if USFS or NPS...forgot to ask). Not sure I have ever seen so much dense smoke from a prescribed burn. Guess that is how they do it down there.
DSC08103.JPG
 

Reef&Ruins

Colorado Plateau is calling...
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Feb 3, 2017
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AWESOME!
Did miss the first part(s) of your Utah/Arizona trip TR?
 

SEAlpine

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Feb 4, 2014
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Funny, pretty sure I chatted with Maureen at Deer Creek while she was soaking her feet from the hike! My family and I were a part of a rafting trip who hiked up from the river. Deer Creek Patio is quite the spot!
 

napatony13

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Feb 5, 2021
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There was a prescribed burn up on the North Rim when I was there in October 2017, with an inversion layer pushing all the smoke down into the Canyon.
IMG_4586 (2).JPG
 

fossana

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Jan 11, 2018
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Wow, the patio looks so peaceful. It was jam packed with rafters last I was there (pre-COVID).
 

John Morrow

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May 22, 2015
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689
AWESOME!
Did miss the first part(s) of your Utah/Arizona trip TR?
Haven't got around to them...
Wow, the patio looks so peaceful. It was jam packed with rafters last I was there (pre-COVID).
Oh, I ran up canyon (not vccinated yet) when the masses arrived, fortunately the second afternoon was quiet.
Funny, pretty sure I chatted with Maureen at Deer Creek while she was soaking her feet from the hike! My family and I were a part of a rafting trip who hiked up from the river. Deer Creek Patio is quite the spot!
I think I walked past you two talking. I was anxious to be among so many people in Covid times. Maureen is also blessed with far more social grace than I!
There was a prescribed burn up on the North Rim when I was there in October 2017, with an inversion layer pushing all the smoke down into the Canyon.
View attachment 98020
Fortunately for us winds out of the east pushed it westward after west winds had sent it toward us.
the winds change direction:
DSC08100.JPG
 
Last edited:

John Morrow

Member
Joined
May 22, 2015
Messages
689
Beautiful pictures! This is the hike that convinced me (at age 59) that I needed to become a backpacker. In 2017 I went solo Bill Hall to DC and then across and made camp at Lower Tapeats, then hiked up TR and back out the next day. Didn't spend much time relaxing, but it was exhilarating and I have great memories. Did you cross the "ledge of death" or take the upper route along the River?

View attachment 97977

We didn't tempt fate and did the upper route. The trail has become continuous and obvious.
 

Bob

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Mar 3, 2013
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Nice....... How were the mice at Deer Creek...they usually carry your tent away
 

John Morrow

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May 22, 2015
Messages
689
Nice....... How were the mice at Deer Creek...they usually carry your tent away
Surprisingly no mice! But ravens were carrying everything they could lift from ours and the other campers in Upper Tapeats.
 
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