What a terrific first day out! I met up w/Whippet, his long-time friend and hiking buddy, Oakes, and Brent—a friend from Indiana at gas station in Valle & headed out. It was about an hour drive to the trailhead, and I took the time to get to know my hiking partners a bit better. We got to Lipan Point near the East entrance to the Park, and got started just after 0830 on the 10(ish) mile hike to the Colorado River for the first leg via the Tanner Trail. The Tanner trailhead is believed to be the spot where García López de Cárdenas stood in 1540, becoming the first European to see the Grand Canyon. Later, it was named Tanner Trail after the prospector Seth Tanner, who ‘improved’ the trail for better access to his mining claims in the canyon. After today’s hike, I think old Seth Tanner was the last person to improve the trail! This is one of the toughest trails I’ve hiked … it’s really rough w/lots of rock climbing and route finding. Just about all of it was covered with loose rocks / scree of some kind—and it’s the Grand Canyon, so it was relentlessly down hill all day. My quads have been reminding me that I haven’t been hiking w/a heavy pack for many months!
The morning was beautiful—about 55 deg to start w Arizona’s signature deep blue sky. Unfortunately that clear blue sky and the Canyon’s lack of vegetation meant that by noon, it started to get really hot with precious little shade. Brent really didn’t feel well (most likely altitude and dehydration), so we took lots of breaks–which was totally fine by me, w/my aching quads and shaky knee! One nice side effect of being slower was that we did get some nice stretches of shade from Canyon walls after lunch.
I’ve been really worried about my knee holding up after my surgery last month-it held up pretty well, but I just don’t trust it —especially on the kind of steep, rocky trail we were on. It was really slow going for me picking my way down the steep trail, favoring my right knee & praying I didn’t fall. I was a little embarrassed about how slow I was, but I don’t think I held up the group too much, and everyone was very forgiving.
We hit the river right at 4 pm & found a sweet little spot to camp (though not quite as awesome as the one we were hoping for). We took a little break in the shade while Whippet & I tested out our spiffy backpacking chairs … totally worth the extra 17 oz!
After resting a bit & cooling off, we headed down to a fabulous little beach by an eddy in the river for “cocktails.“ Oakes & Doug enjoyed some bourbon while I had a glass of red wine (served in my all-purpose titanium coffee cup.) It was a truly heavenly hour cooling our feet in the river, enjoying the stunning views and swapping backpacking stories (Whippet & Oakes have been camping in the Canyon for decades, & had some fabulous tales to tell).
After cocktails we cooked dinner & Whippet & I tried our new homemade meals … Whippet’s bean, rice & frito recipe will definitely be on my rotation from now on—it was delicious! After dinner Oakes & Brent settled in for the night while Whippet & I sat and admired the spectacular night sky … no ambient light, no moon & no clouds made for a truly awe-inspiring display. It was the perfect end to an incredibly rewarding day. I‘ve left the rain fly off my tent so I can enjoy the sky as I fall asleep.