What a day!
After a leisurely morning lingering over coffee and breakfast, we packed up and headed out about 0800. We took a quick side trip up to an abandoned-mine-turned-bat-sanctuary, and then got serious about hiking back to Tanner Rapids. It was pleasant to start, but heated up quickly when we left the shade. The hike was mostly uneventful until the last hour or so when we got off the trail. Getting back on the trail involved freestyling down some steep, treacherous scree—I wasn’t entirely convinced I was going to make it down without a major fall. When we finally made it back to the trail I was ready to kiss the blessedly level ground.
It was pretty hot by the time we got to our camp site (a really sweet spot under a rock ledge just up the trail from an amazing river overhang that turned out to be the best cocktail spot of the trip). We had planned to set up camp & then take a 6-mile out & back excursion, but everyone (except maybeOakes) was beat, so we spent the afternoon exploring the immediate area, and lazing in our shaded spot by the river.
The event of the day was scoring “boat beers.” Whippet and Oakes have been telling stories for the whole trip about getting beer from rafters and finding loose beers in the river. I’m not saying I thought they were lying, but I was pretty sure finding stray beers floating in the river was not a repeatable event that I was going to witness. But, sure enough, we were hanging out on our ledge just after lunch when someone spotted a couple of beer cans floating in the eddy in the river below us. We had just about given up coaxing them in when a raft flotilla & a couple of kayakers came around the bend. The kayakers paddled over time retrieve the beers and toss them up to us. The beer (which had apparently fallen off a previous flotilla) was nice & cold from being in the river, and oh so refreshing on a hot day. Props to Whippet and Oakes for keeping the faith and being alert to the possibility of this bounty!
During our afternoon exploration around the area, we ran into 2 other groups of hikers, both of whom claimed to have carried 90-100# packs down the Tanner Trail (and after chatting w/them and seeing their camps, I believe them) … I cannot fathom carrying that much weight down that steep, rocky, treacherous trail. One group of 2 came down to our ledge & chatted for a bit. They asked for tips on how to lower their pack weight (well, that’s how we interpreted “we know they’re heavy, but what could we leave out”). They thought maybe they should have left the rain fly from their tent since there was no real chance of rain. Or maybe buy lighter packs or carry less food. Then they mentioned that they were carrying a Glock 26 w/an extra magazine for the “2-legged animal threats.” We walked by their camp and saw their portable table with a full set of pots & pans, and they were fixing dinner of canned chili that was being opened with a hammer! I’m pretty sure the rain fly wasn’t their problem 😁 But they were having a good time, and seemed willing to learn … they were clearly capable of schlepping the gear (at least to the bottom), so I say more power to them.
Tomorrow’s another early day since we’re heading back to the rim, and we have a long, hot climb to get out of the Canyon. I’m looking forward to sleeping in a bed tomorrow and eating food that hasn’t been dehydrated, and maybe drinking a beer or two … but I’m a little sad that this adventure is coming to an end and this is my last night to fall asleep under this incredible star-filled sky.