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Trip Report - April/May, 2001 - Phantom & Haunted Canyons

In contrast to the problems encountered with the prior week's trip, this one went off without a hitch, and was simply fabulous.

I actually started this trip two days early and went down and spent the first two nights with my friend, Chuck, who is a ranger at Indian Garden. On my layover day at Indian Garden I hiked part of the old Bright Angel Trail and went to visit the old Anasazi ruins locate along its route. I also visited the ruins at the base of the Tapeats on the east side of Plateau Point and ended up contouring all the way around Plateau Point and coming out the drainage on its west side - Prospector Canyon. From Indian Garden I had a nice easy hike to Bright Angel Campground for the third night.

From Bright Angel Campground I headed up the Utah Flats Route on day four and spent the next three nights camped at the Overhang Camp, just south of the confluence of Phantom and Haunted Creeks. My layover days there saw me hiking up both Phantom and Haunted Canyons as far as the Redwall cliffs and narrows. Upper Phantom Canyon ends with another section of narrows and high pour-offs that are impassable. I probably could have gone a lot further in Haunted Canyon as the Redwall cliff up there seems pretty easy to climb. I started to get a little nervous about my water supply as there didn't appear to be any water flowing up there and decided instead to call it quits and head back to camp. The weather was perfect for the whole trip but was especially nice while I was up there in Phantom and Haunted Canyons. It was nice and sunny and a little cooler than normal for the time of year. I did not see another soul from the time I left the campground until when I returned - exactly what I had been hoping for.

On day seven I lounged around by Phantom Creek, just above the lower narrows, and then hiked back up to Utah Flats during mid-afternoon to camp for the night. I could have stayed another night at the Overhang Camp but I wanted to get up out of the Canyon and someplace a little higher for one night. That night was very cool and comfortable. While lounging at Phantom Creek on day seven I also went down to look at the waterfall just above the lower narrows and I think I found the bypass route that goes around it.

Day eight was another easy day. I was up and packed early and had a glorious early morning hike along Utah Flats. I was in no hurry to get back to Bright Angel Campground so I took my time and really stretched it out. I found some awesome overlooks of Phantom Ranch, Bright Angel Campground and the Colorado River during a rest stop just below Piano Alley and above the Bonzai section (right above Bright Angel Campground) of the Utah Flats Route. I was back at the campground by just a little after 10 and had camp established and was sipping a nice cold lemonade at Phantom Ranch before 11. I lounged about at the ranch, the campground and down by the river for the rest of the day and waited for dinner. I was lucky enough to find an opening for dinner at Phantom Ranch that night and had the stew dinner. I met some wonderful people at the ranch and my neighbors in the campground were awesome as well.

I was up well before the crack of dawn on the last day and was out of camp before sunrise as well. I like walking along the river in the cool darkness of the early morning hours. I stopped a couple of times to talk to people and was back on the rim just a little after 11.

One of the high-points of both trips was the profusion of wildflowers in the inner canyon. The hedgehog and beavertail cactus was in full bloom and the prickly pear was just starting. Yuccas, phlox, paintbrush, monkey flower and a variety of other flowers were also in bloom.

Happy Trails

P.S. Data for this trip report was assembled while still in the backcountry using my Hewlett-Packard Pocket PC


camera Photo map

Day 1 - Bright Angel trailhead to Indian Garden
Day 2 - Layover at Indian Garden
Day 3 - Indian Garden to Bright Angel campground
Day 4 - Bright Angel campground to Overhang Camp
Day 5 - Layover at Overhang Camp, Day hike up Phantom Canyon
Day 6 - Layover at Overhang Camp, Day hike up Haunted Canyon
Day 7 - Overhang Camp to Phantom Creek Overlook
Day 8 - Phantom Creek Overlook to Bright Angel campground
Day 9 - Bright Angel campground to Bright Angel trailhead

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