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Day 4 - Esplanade to Upper Tapeats

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05:30 - Thunder River Trail, Esplanade

I am awake but just laying around in the sleeping bag. Robin is awake too. We will get up in a little while and have some breakfast and start to break camp but I am in no hurry to get moving. I want to give everyone as much time as possible to rest. Our camp at Upper Tapeats is not that far away, only about 3 miles or something. I know it is going to take time going down the descent to Surprise Valley and then to Upper Tapeats but it shouldn't be too bad.

08:00 - Thunder River Trail, Esplanade

Camp is all packed up and we are headed off for Upper Tapeats.

08:10 - Thunder River Trail, Esplanade rim

We are at the very edge of the Esplanade rim and about to start down the break into Surprise Valley.

09:45 - Thunder River Trail, Supai/Redwall formation

It's 9:45 and we are just getting into the Redwall. This is taking a lot longer than I thought it would.

10:30 - Thunder River Trail, Surprise Valley

Yay! We are finally in Surprise Valley. I expected it to take an hour or maybe a little more to get here and it took about 2½. Luckily the morning has been pretty cool so far.

11:30 - Thunder River Trail, Surprise Valley

We are just approaching the Tapeats rim and things are not looking so good. It's not really that hot but the heat there is, combined with the exertion from yesterday, is taking its toll on Sue and Tom. The other party that we camped next to last night is closing in on our heels and I am going to race ahead to Upper Tapeats and snag the first campsite I find for ourselves. I don't want to make Sue and Tom do any more walking than necessary today. I just want to get them to camp as soon as possible and let them start resting up again. I told Robin to let them know where I went and that I will be back as soon as possible to help them out.

12:45 - Upper Tapeats camp

I stopped at the first campsite that I found and it looked like a good one so I took it. I pitched my tent and emptied most of the stuff out of my backpack and put it inside the tent. Now I am heading pack up the trail with an empty pack to see if I can take some of the load away from Sue and Tom and make it a little easier for them.

13:40 - Thunder River Trail, Thunder River

I met up with Robin coming down as I was going back up and stopped to talk with her a while. I could see Sue and Tom resting further up the trail closer to Thunder River. Robin said she waited at the Tapeats rim for about 30 minutes for Sue and Tom to catch up and that Sue was having problems with the heat.

14:15 - Thunder River Trail, Thunder River

We are finally resting in some shade at Thunder River. I met up with Sue and Tom as they started back down the trail and took several pounds of their gear and put it into my pack. They seemed to do much better with the reduced load. Camp for the night is only about ¼-mile further down the trail and its still pretty early so they should have plenty of time to rest.

20:00 - Upper Tapeats camp

I just finished updating my journal and am just about ready to settle in for the night.

I know now that I totally under estimated Sues abilities and I think she under estimated the rigors of Grand Canyon backpacking. As the day wore on and we got deeper and deeper into the Canyon it all just got to be a little too much for her. The heat and the miles started to take their toll and by the time we reached the final descent into Thunder River she was just about out of energy. Sue and Tom only seem to manage about ½ mile per hour on these downhill sections and I am hoping that like most people they will do better with the uphill stuff.

The plan for tomorrow is to continue to rest through the morning and then to start down towards Lower Tapeats after lunch. It will be hot but there will not be nearly so much downhill as the prior two days and there will be some nice places to rest along the way. I am trying to be optimistic.

Morning sun on the Esplande, day 2

Surprise Valley from the Esplanade rim

Resting near the floor of Surprise Valley

Cogswell Butte, Surprise Valley

Thunder River

Thunder River

Thunder River

Robin cooling off in Tapeats Creek

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