We had an incredible group, 11 of us on both top and bottom halves, with two
people leaving and two people joining at Phantom Ranch. We set a good schedule, on the River most mornings by 9A on rowing days. That is a real accomplishment for a winter trip with short days; sunrise wasn't until around 7:30. Our Trip Leader, Jon Fuller, was up well before sunrise to make the first pot of coffee and put on the kettle. Everyone pitched in to pack the boats fast in the morning and unload when we arrived at camp, usually in early afternoons. Earlier starts on rowing days meant more layover days, and we certainly took advantage of as many as we could. A good group makes the trip, and we had the best!
Our Phantom-down group in Blacktail Canyon. Blacktail is one of the best places to see the Great Unconformity.
Looking downstream from Nankoweep
We had a total of seven layover camps, two nights each at Cardenas, 110, Fossil, Racetrack, Parashant, 220, and Surprise. As I mentioned on my last trip, layover days means not having to pack up camp and time for some longer side hikes. At Cardenas, I hiked up the Escalante Trail to the ridge overlooking Escalante Creek, wonderful view. I backpacked this trail years ago when it was more just a route. Still is to some extent. The wind blew all day long and we were all glad not to be on the River (why does the crazy wind always blow up-canyon?). At 110, I hiked up to the divide overlooking Shinumo Creek. At Fossil, I hiked up Canyon to where it narrows to a deep pool in the Redwall that disappears around a corner, with no way to go on but swim. At Racetrack, I hiked up Tapeats Creek to Thunder River. Last time I visited Thunder River was probably about 30 years ago! It was as lovely and spectacular as I remember it, and Tapeats Canyon was spectacular; cottonwood leaves were still golden. Several of our group made the full loop up and over Surprise Valley to Deer Creek and back along the River route. My longest hike was up Parashant, I hiked close to 16 miles round-trip. I made it past some absolutely lovely Redwall narrows; I highly recommend the hike if you have a layover at Parashant (just get started early). At 220, I hiked up above the Tapeats onto the Tonto Plateau just right in back of camp the afternoon we arrived, and the next day up 220 Canyon to just about where it deadends against the Redwall. Only on our last layover at Surprise Canyon did I not do a long hike. Three of us started up the Canyon but it rained that entire day and we turned around after only a couple of miles. We were soaked by the time we got back to the River; something to complete next time.
Above Cardenas Camp, looking east towards the Palisades of the Desert
Our camp at Nankoweep
Redwall narrows in Parashant Canyon
Tapeats Creek looking back towards the Colorado River