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Trip Report - April, 2016 - Tanner-Escalante-New Hance Backpacking Trip

Well, first off, this was not supposed to be a Tanner-Escalante-New Hance trip, it was supposed to be a Nankoweap trip. Originally it was supposed to be a solo trip and I was hoping to repeat the Nankoweap/Marion-Seiber loop that I did back in 2006. I was looking forward to getting back to the Kolb Natural Bridge again after a failed second attempt back in 2012. After I started planning the trip my hiking buddy from New Hampshire, Alysia, decided she would like to give it a try with me as well. I was very happy about that since we had a great time together on a Deer Creek/Thunder River trip a few years ago and I was really looking forward to sharing some of the fabulous sights in Nankoweap with her. The Deer Creek/Thunder River trip had been her first Grand Canyon backpacking trip and she did very well on it. I knew that Nankoweap was considerably more difficult but I had no doubts she could do it. The trip that I did back in 2012 was with Pam, another hiking buddy from New Hampshire, and it was her first backpacking adventure in the Canyon so I could not see any reason why Alysia shouldn't be able to do it. I sent Alysia links to the trip reports I had from my previous Nankoweap trips so she would know what she was getting into. Then Alysia talked her husband Chris into going along on the trip with us. I didn't see a problem with that since he was a strong hiker as well. He had never really done any backpacking before but if Alysia thought he would be ok I was fine with that. Two more people ended up getting added to the trip and then one dropped out because of back problems so at one week from the start date we had a Nankoweap trip with four people.

Then five days before the start of the trip the crap hit the fan. Chris was doing some research on the Nankoweap Trail online and found a YouTube video of one of the scary portions and became very concerned, and then got Alysia very concerned as well, and they both thought they were in over their heads with this one. Perfect! Why anyone would wait until five days before the start of a backpacking trip to finally start researching it, especially when they have never backpacked in the Canyon before, is beyond me. Alysia had links to the trip reports for months but apparently she never shared these with Chris. Her bad! There is still no doubt in my mind that Alysia would have been able to do this trip and I am very sorry that she missed out on it. There is way too much bad hype about the Nankoweap Trail on the Internet and it's unfortunate that some people still want to believe everything they see on the Internet. If you are an experienced hiker and not deathly afraid of some exposure you should not have a problem with this trail. It's only dangerous if you suddenly come down with a bad case of the stupids or forget how to walk. Somehow they were convinced they would be the first to go Over The Edge at the scary spot so I was not about to try and talk them into doing it.

So... anyway... as much as I had been looking forward to Nankoweap I was really more interested in doing another Grand Canyon trip with Alysia so I was left scrambling for a Plan B. Alysia still wanted to do a trip and she asked me if I could change it to something else... anything else. Springtime, especially April, is prime hiking season for Grand Canyon and I was not optimistic but I told her I would try. With only four days to go before the start date for the trip I found myself waiting in line at the Backcountry Office hoping for anything I could get. We arrived there early but had to wait for all of the walk-in permits for that day to be sorted out first. I knew a walk-in permit would be another option as a last resort but that is a time consuming process with no guarantees and typically only works for main corridor trips, which was something I definitely did not want. The backcountry ranger was very helpful and tried many different options for my first choices but there really was nothing available. I finally decided to ask about a Tanner/Escalante/New Hance trip even though I knew the Escalante had a couple of rough spots around Papago Canyon. This was still nothing like the vertical drop at the scary spot on the Nankoweap but that section of trail on the Nankoweap actually had much better footing than the Papago slide. Alysia said "anything but Nankoweap" and I was out of ideas. Even my first choice for that was not available. I could get Tanner and Escalante but Red Canyon (New Hance) was not available for the night I wanted. Then the backcounty ranger looked a day ahead and said he could give me Red Canyon if I would take two nights in Escalante. Score! I figured we could just have a nice quiet lay-over day at Escalante Creek before starting the hike out. The backountry ranger actually suggested camping on the east side of the Escalanate use area on the second night of the trip and then moving to the west side (Escalante Creek or Papago Canyon) for the third night and that would work as well.

The original plan for the trip had been one night at Tanner Rapid, two nights at Escalante Creek and then the last night at either Hance Rapid or somewhere further up the New Hance Trail. That ended up getting changed to one night at Tanner, one night at Cardenas Creek, one night at Escalante Creek and the final night just below the Redwall in Red Canyon. In the end I was glad of the two nights in the Escalante use area as going all the way from Tanner Rapid to Escalanate Creek in one day with this group would have been a bit much. We could have done it but it would have been a long and tiring day and we would have been dragging our butts into camp late with no time to enjoy it. Taking an easy day on day two and just moving camp from Tanner Rapid to Cardenas Creek was nice and relaxing.

Trip highlights

  • Doing another Grand Canyon backpacking trip with Alysia
  • The fabulous food that Alysia made for the trip! (more on that later)
  • The views along the Escalante Route
  • Free beer from TWO river trips
  • Lots of flowers
  • Only one collared lizard but at least we saw one


Larger version (1700x2200) camera Photo map

Day 1 - Tanner Trail to Tanner Rapid
Day 2 - Escalante Route to Cardenas Creek
Day 3 - Escalante Route to Escalante Creek
Day 4 - Escalante Route to Red Canyon and New Hance Trail to Redwall camp
Day 5 - New Hance Trail to New Hance trailhead

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