Spring Break with Brianna: Grandview and Phantom
Includes Old Grandview Trail to the River

March 21 thru March 26, 2010


NOTE: Click on Hypertext to view photos.

Three maps show the route: Map 1 covers the Grandview trailhead to Grapevine, Map 2 covers Grapevine to Cremation, and Map 3 covers Cremation to Phantom and Indian Garden.


Preface. This was the third Grand Canyon backpack I have done with my daughter, Brianna.   All of them were done during her Spring breaks.   She turned 16 two days after this trip.

March 20, 2010.   Brianna and I flew to Las Vegas, rented a car and drove to Grand Canyon, south rim.   The drive was much longer than expected due to construction of a massive new bridge adjacent to Hoover dam.   We ate dinner in Tusayan, then checked into the Bright Angel Lodge for the night.

March 21, 2010.   A few weeks ago, John Arnold offered us a ride to the trailhead, so early this morning, John picked us at the Bright Angel and drove us to the Grandview Trailhead.   Many thanks to John for his generosity.   John decided to hike down the trail with us for a ways.   The trail was covered in deep snow all the way down and part-way into the Supai.   Brianna and I had Yak Tracks, which made the hike MUCH safer.   I was surprised at how well Brianna handled the exposure.

We reached Horseshoe Mesa by mid-morning and headed over to see the Cave of the Domes, which is in the cliff-side below the west rim of the mesa.   We only made it in as far as the registration box before Brianna freaked out and refused to go any further.   Itís a mystery as to why some things frighten some people but not others.

After eating lunch we started down the trail the drops off the west side of the mesa and into the Cottonwood Creek drainage.   We ran into a couple of other groups who were camped in the area.   We continued down to the Tonto trail, then continued down the Cottonwood drainage for a few hundred yards where we found a nice place to camp.   There was plenty of water flowing in Cottonwood Creek.

March 22, 2010.   I was looking forward to today because we were going to look for the old and abandoned Grandview Trail that drops off the Tonto and goes all the way to the river.   This would be new territory for me.   I had once found the cairn that marked the beginning of the route, but had never attempted to hike it.   It took us about an hour of leisurly hiking to get to top of the route.   The route was fairly easy to follow, with lots of trail construction still evident, but the trail was very steep in places.   There was only a very small patch of sand at the river, and the surrounding Vishnu Schist felt claustrophobic.   It is hard to understand why anyone would put that much effort into building a trail that goes to such an inhospitable place.   But it was interesting.   After climbing the 1300 feet back to the Tonto, we continued on to Grapvine.   After setting up camp, we took a short hike up Grapevine Creek.

March 23, 2010.   We got a leisurly start this morning even though we had almost 9 miles of hiking to get to Lone Tree, our destination for the day.   Water sources are scarce along this section of trail, so if you want to camp by water, your choices are limited.   The only certain water along this stretch is at Cottomwood Creek and Grapevine Creek.   But in early Spring the other drainages often have water.   The hiking along this stretch is easy and very pretty.

Although it was nice to find water at Lone Tree, we also found several other groups camped there.   Either some groups were illegally camped there, or everyone with a permit for the Cremation Use Zone was camped at Lone Tree that night.   All the decent tent sites were taken. However, we were lucky to run into Rob Brading and his partner.   They were kind enough to allow us to set up a tent very near their campsite.   I had known Rob through the Yahoo Grand Canyon Hiking Group, but I had never met him.   It was interesting to learn that Rob and I share the University of Colorado in Boulder as our alma mater, and that Rob graduated from Boulder High, were Brianna is currently enrolled.

March 24, 2010.   This morning we packed up and headed for the Bright Angel Campground and Phantom Ranch.   It is about 5 miles to the Tipoff (and the South Kaibab Trail), and another two miles to Phantom.   We crossed the Colorado on the Black Bridge and headed straight for the campground.   After setting up camp we walked over to the cantina at Phantom Ranch where we drank lemonade and I had a beer.   We then we headed back to our camp.

I had previously arranged for us to have a steak dinner at the Ranch, so at dinner time (17:30?) we headed back to the cantina and had a wonderful dinner.   At that time I also arranged a breakfast for us for the next morning.

March 25, 2010.   We had to get up very early because our breakfast was scheduled for 5:30 (before sunrise).   The breakfast was wonderful, so it definitely was worth it.   After breakfast we walked back to camp, packed up, and headed for Indian Garden.   Since Brianna had been on the Silver Bridge on a previous trip, we decided to go back across the Black Bridge and follow the River Trail to the bottom of the Bright Angel Trail.   We made good time and stopped for only a few photos.

I had read in Wayne Tomasi's book about a route that takes you below Plateau Point at the base of the Tapeats.   I thought this might make a fun day hike.   So after setting up camp we headed for Lone Pine Canyon, an small, unnamed canyon between Horn Creek and Plateau Point.   Finding a route down to the canyon bottom that Brianna would be willing to do was a challenge.   But eventually, with a lot of coaxing, we found ourselves at the bottom of Lone Pine Canyon.   Now it was just a mater of hiking down the canyon for a short distance and contouring East along the base of the Tapeats.   But Brianna decided she had had enough of the brush (she only had on shorts), so we climbed back out of the canyon and then made a beeline for Plateau Point.   I also think hiking off-trail kind of spooked her, even though we were barely off-trail.

March 26, 2010.   This morning we made the short but steep climb to the rim via the Bright Angel Trail.   Just above the Redwall I stopped to take a picture looking back down towards Indian Garden.   After topping out we now had the tedious drive back to Las Vegas.   We spent the night at a hotel there, and the next morning I drove Brianna to the airport where she flew back to Boulder.   I then met up with friends who were flying in for a North Rim backpack (Flipoff).


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