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Day 3 - Jacob Lake to Esplanade

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08:45 - Jacob Lake Lodge

It looks like we got about 3 inches of snow last night. It accumulated on the SUV and on the grass but most of the stuff on the road has melted already and it shouldn't be too much trouble getting to the trailhead if he rest of the plateau is the same. I expect we are going to hit some mud.

Last night before going to bed we spent some time checking the gear and finshed as much packing as we could. We were up around 6 this morning and finished it off. We met Sue and Tom for breakast at the lodge when they opened at 7:30 and now we are on our way to the trailhead.

10:10 - Monument Point

"Some mud" was a serious understatement. 3 or 4 inches of snow seems to be the most that any location received and a good portion of the distance along the road did not appear to have any. Most of the roads were in fairly good shape with the exception of 22 and 425 which we literally covered in mud. The SUV is not 4WD and it did a fair amount of sliding in some in the curves as well as on the hills. Right now about 90% of is covered in a slick reddish-orange mud and it looks like its been through a war. I am going to have to try and do something with it after the trip. Alamo will not be pleased if I return it looking like that and they would probably charge me an extra cleaning fee.

10:50 - Bill Hall Trail, Canyon rim

We finished the hike along the rim and the trail is now heading down into the Canyon. The whole area between here and the parking lot had a big fire a few years back and most of the trees have been burned. There is now grass growing everywhere. I remember reading about the fire and how a group of hikers had to be airlifted out of the Canyon because they could not come back up the trail while the place was burning.

11:25 - Bill Hall Trail, Toroweap formation

We have finished the first descent and have just passed behind Bridgers Knoll. The trail should level out for a while now as it works its way northward to the break in the Coconino cliff.

12:50 - Bill Hall Trail, Coconino formation

We are at the top of the break in the Coconino cliff. We dropped down a little ways after the traverse in the Toroweap and then hit the tricky little section where there is a small cliff. I think it was giving people the creeps so we took off our packs and people lowered them down to me. I think that was a bit overkill and we probably could have just handed them down. It doesnt look nearly as bad from the bottom looking up as from the top looking down and I should have been able to do it with my pack on. I dont think we will have any trouble on the way up. We took a little rest and had something to eat before continuing down the trail.

14:50 - Thunder River Trail, Esplanade

We have finished the descent to the Esplanade but its been very slow going. Its almost 3 pm already and seeing we have just reached the junction with the Thunder River Trail, so I am pretty much giving up on the idea of going all the way to Upper Tapeats today. The descents have been more than Sue and Tom have bargained for and they just are not used to this stuff. I can see that they are worn out already and trying to go down Surprise Valley and then to Upper Tapeats would be just asking for trouble. We dont want any stinking accidents. I think we will stick with our original plan of camping on the Esplanade rim. Now I wish I hadn't got the permit changed to Upper Tapeats. Duh!

15:40 - Thunder River Trail, Esplanade

We are near the location where I plan to camp for the last night and have just cached a total of 8 liters of water to use for the last night and the hike out.

17:30 - Thunder River Trail, Esplanade

Camp, Sweet, Camp.

We found some good campsites right on the Esplanade rim. The trail starts to head downward from here, towards the break that leads to Surprise Valley, so it is a perfect place to camp.

There is another group, that we have been playing cat and mouse with for a good portion of the day, camped just the other side of some slickrock formations.

20:10 - Thunder River Trail, Esplanade

The sunset from the Esplanade was awesome tonight. It really started to cool off once the sun went down.

I just finished updating my journal for today and I am almost ready to settle down for the night. It has been a very long day and I though I don't feel bad myself I am sure that Sue and Tom (and even Robin) are enjoying some rest. Why did I think we could go all the way from the rim to Upper Tapeats in one day? I know I would not have any problem with doing this myself but I should have known better as far as the others were concerned. Dumb!

The start of our backpacking trip

Bridgers Knoll

Heading down the Bill Hall Trail

The Esplanade

Resting in the shade of a Pinyon pine

Potholes on the Esplanade

Mushroom rocks

Sunset on the Esplanade for the first night

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