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Trip Report - May, 2004 - Phantom and Haunted Canyons

I fell in love with Phantom and Haunted Canyons when I first went back there with Robin during our trip in December 1998. That trip was very short though and we were only back there for one night and I could not wait to get back and explore some more of the area. The love grew somewhat more intense during another, longer trip, in May 2001 when I spent almost 4 days back there and had the whole place completely to myself. During this trip I fell in love some more. I did some more exploring and even though I did not get to do exactly what I originally planned to do, I still had a wonderful time and was not disappointed in the least.

I originally planned to try to climb the Redwall cliff at the back end of Haunted Canyon because it looked possible the last time I was there. After looking at photos I took during that last trip for the past 3 years I somehow managed to convince myself that this was going to be something fairly easy to do and that all I would need to do is bring a rope to help me get back down. Time definitely tarnishes the memory because when I went back there on this trip I look one look at that cliff and could not understand what I had been thinking. With time I had totally lost any sense of perspective when looking at photos of the cliff and somehow it because less steep... less vertical... less difficult. When I got there and looked at it live this time I could make out a route most of the way up but not a complete route, there were several gaps and unknowns. I also only had fifty feet of rope with me which if used as a hand-line would only give me 25 feet to play with. I could not even find places on the cliff where I would be able to use the hand-line on the way back down and I did not want to be coming back down this thing without out. So, after fighting with myself and going over it for the better part of an hour I decided the smart thing to do would be not to do it at all. I did experiment briefly with a little ravine to the right of the cliff thinking that might go but the limestone in there was not in the greatest condition and it crumbled very easily. So that didn't work either. I really wanted to get to the top of this thing and having the bail out on the idea was not pleasant.

Another problem, but one I was willing to deal with, was the fact that it took a long time (5½ hours) just to get to the base of the Redwall from my campsite. I didn't get up there until noon and even if I had just gone up and come back down that was likely to take several more hours. The hike back to camp was likely to take a little less time than the hike up had taken but not significantly so and I knew I would be getting back to camp after dark. I had a headlamp with me though, and some warmer clothing, and even my water filter, so I did not have to go back to camp and that was an option as well. The biggest problem was being worried about not having enough rope. It was still a beautiful day and the hike as it went took most of it so by the time I got back to camp I was really not that disappointed.

The next day was more relaxing and I just stayed around the Haunted / Phantom confluence for the most part. I climbed lots of the hills in the area and got some spectacular views. I went up Phantom Canyon as far as the spring and ended up having a nice lunch break up there next to the creek. I got back to camp early and played around in the creek and had a very relaxing dinner while watching the sun fade away in the inner canyon. It's hard to go wrong on a trip back here unless the weather really turns foul on you. And if you're camped under the overhang at the Overhang Camp even that is not likely to be too much of a problem.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous for the entire time I was back there. The temperature were a little cooler than normal for that time of year but when you're talking mid 80s instead of mid 90s that's actual not too hard to take. The weather for the trip as a whole was pretty good; the intense wind storm during the first day at Bright Angel Campground being the biggest problem, and that was survived. I did not see another person from the time I left Bright Angel Campground until I returned 4 days later and that felt very good. I had the whole place to myself... again.

Southern portion

camera Photo map

Northern portion

camera Photo map

Day 1 - Bright Angel Trail to Bright Angel Campground
Day 2 - Bright Angel Campground to Phantom Canyon via Utah Flats Route
Day 3 - Day hike up Haunted Canyon
Day 4 - Day hike up Phantom Canyon
Day 5 - Utah Flats Route back to Bright Angel Campgound
Day 6 - Bright Angel Trail back to the rim

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