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Trip Report - May, 2011 - Deer Creek and Thunder River

This was one of the best trips ever and definitely the best time I have ever had backpacking in the Deer Creek and Thunder River areas. After three prior trips in this area and seeing the quality of the west side trail down Tapeats Creek continue to degrade it seemed the best opportunity for a pleasurable trip here was to avoid that stretch entirely. If I ever do the complete loop version of this hike along the Colorado River and through the Granite Narrows again it will only be during low water in Tapeats Creek when it is possible to cross to the east side. Leaving out Tapeats Creek completely, except for day hiking down Thunder River and Tapeats Creek to the upper Tapeats camping area, made for a most pleasurable trip.

The choice of companions for this trip was another reason it was so successful.

This trip was originally planned as an introductory Grand Canyon trip for my cousin, John, and one of his friends. John hails from southern California and has done lots of backpacking both there and in the Sierras so I was not worried about him in the least. He had always wanted to backpack the Grand Canyon and we talked about doing a trip together when I was visiting with his dad in California several years ago. I am glad that we finally pulled it off and I think it will be a very memorable trip for both of us. Hopefully we will be doing some more backpacking together in the future as well.

I had hoped that my wife, Robin, would be able to do this trip as well but when I received the permit and it was for the first week in May it turned out that she would not be able to get away from work. John's friend was also not able to go and I was left with a permit for four people and only two people who could make it.

There was a considerable amount of confusion in filling the slots and after promising more slots than I had to too many people I decided to add two more people to the permit. I invited Janice, a friend I had met through an Internet blog site a few years ago, along. She had expressed interest in doing the Deva Temple attempt with me last October but eventually backed out; a wise decision on her part. This was to be a much easier trip the way I was planning it and even though she had never done any backpacking before I was sure she would be able to handle it. She was in excellent physical shape to start off with but she also did a considerable amount of work to prepare for this trip, including a 20+ mile day hike we did together on Cape Cod... over sand... and carrying a 25 pound pack. Her enthusiasm in preparing for this trip and also that which she exhibited continuously throughout the trip itself had me feeling very good about my decision to ask her along. For someone who had never backpacked before she came through this trip with flying colors and was an absolute joy to have along. Hopefully there will be more hiking and backpacking adventures in our future as well. Since she lives relatively close by there are many opportunities for day hiking.

Two other slots on the trip were filled by Mary and Robert, two fellow members of the Grand Canyon Hikers and Backpackers Association. I had done some inner canyon work trips with them through GCHBA several years ago and had always wanted to do a real backpacking trip with Mary. She is an ultra-light backpacker and has been all over the Canyon, logging many more miles than I could ever hope to achieve.

I was never able to fill the final spot on the trip and the week before the hike I finally gave in and had the permit changed from six people to five.

The weather for this trip was incredibly awesome as well. We car-camped the first night on Forest Service land just south of Fredonia and that night was very cold. Our first night's camp in the Canyon, on the Esplanade, was a little on the chilly side as well. Aside from that the weather was absolutely perfect with almost completely sunny skies and very comfortable temperatures for the entire trip. It really doesn't get much better.

Larger version (1996x1462) camera Photo map

Day 1 - Grand Canyon south rim and car camping
Day 2 - Bill Hall Trail to Thunder River Trail to Esplande camp #1
Day 3 - Thunder River Trail to Deer Creek Trail to Deer Creek
Day 4 - Lay over day at Deer Creek
Day 5 - Across Surprise Valley to Thunder River
Day 6 - Thunder River Trail to Esplanade camp #2
Day 7 - Thunder River and Bill Hall trails back to Monument Point

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