Monday, April 18, 2005
1:10p - Canyon rim, just east of Saddle Mountain
Well, we made it! We started just after 6 this morning and we rimmed out a little after 11. We camped close to the rock I thought was the boulder petroglyphs and I was very disappointed when I saw it in daylight... a few meager and very faint scratchings. It turns out that was not the boulder petroglyph rock and we also stumbled past the real one without even noticing it. We (Chuck) also found the petroglyph panel in the Supai but we never saw any sigh of the one in the Coconino. Oh, well, 2 out of 3 is not bad.
The climbing was fun, especially through the Coconino layer which was almost straight up---a very quick route. This would not have been fun trying to come down with a pack on though. The Kaibab layer was fun as well but near the top (about 40 feet from the rim) we had to raise our packs by rope again. We probably could have climbed it with them on but why take chances that close to the top. The section through the Supai between the Redwall and Coconino was somewhat tedious and that section was probably the least amount of fun. It felt wonderful to be on top.
Chuck and Sam hung out here for a while to have lunch with me and they just left about a half hour ago. They are camping back at the trailhead parking area tonight and I am staying out here. The view is "to die for" and I cannot imagine missing sunset tonight and sunrise tomorrow morning from here. I have been looking forward to this.
It is VERY windy though and I don't know what I will do as far as camping tonight. The wind is gusting up around 60 mph and possibly higher and trying to pitch my tent under those conditions would be foolhardy. I am hold up under a Utah juniper right now and I could just sleep under here with my air mattress and sleeping bag. The temperature could go down into the low 40s or even 30s though. Chuck got a NPS weather report on the way up and they said the winds were supposed die down in the afternoon.
Last night was nice and it was a little warmer than expected. There was the occasional Canyon breeze to caress me as I lay there under the starry moonlit sky. It felt good and I slept very well. I have been sleeping pretty well for most of this trip---early to bed and early to rise. It could be interesting out here tonight and I may even try some time exposures of the Canyon under moonlight if the wind cooperates and dies down. I don't have a tripod though so that could complicate matters.
There is no way I would have attempted the hike out without a hiking partner. I never had a chance to scout the route in advance but if I had I probably would have turned back at the upper Redwall, where we had to raise our packs yesterday. I could have gone up that but getting back down would have seriously bugged me, especially with a pack on. There was another place in the Toroweap where we had to pass packs ahead and again at the top of the Kaibab were we had to raise packs. That's not so easy when you are traveling solo. I'm just glad Chuck happened to be here at the same time as me. It worked out very well for me.
I bit off more than I could chew for this trip and I need to tone things down a notch (or two) as far as solo hiking goes. Solo hiking on backcountry trails is one thing but experimenting with routes like this one is not for the solo hiker.