As usual, this post will look best on a big screen.
Last month, I led another trip starting from Indian Hollow, on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. The crew consisted of Chad, Ian N., Pete B., Rich, Ryan, Willie, Char and me. A few complications made this an interesting trek, but it was still a rewarding one.
We did roughly the same loop I’ve hiked twice before – see my other posts on Kanab Pt. 2 (photos) and Kanab Pt. 2 (video). The main difference this year is that we did the first two days as described in Chapter 4, Tapeats Creek / Kanab Creek Loop from the guidebook Hiking Grand Canyon Loops by George Steck. In Steck’s book, the first day’s route heads cross country almost immediately. He describes a landmark called Ghost Rock, which leads the way to upper Cranberry Canyon. From there, you walk down a flat bench to a campsite with a sublime view of the Colorado River and the inner canyon.
Last year, we tried to hike this route but couldn’t find Ghost Rock with map and compass. This time I brought an iPhone with a GPS app, so we were able to find Ghost Rock. From there, it was simple enough to walk out to the campsite, and Steck’s book held up to his promise with regard to the view point:
Looking upriver from Cranberry Canyon
But on the morning of day 2, we found the guide book to be a bit misleading, to say the least. Here’s Steck’s description:
The chute you want goes down steeply in a series of steps that unfortunately blocks the view of where you want to go, so you may think you are off route. Once this happened to me and I went on to the next chute – which looked even worse. The second time around, the correct chute looked much better . . . The chute is narrow and steep, but no rope is needed unless you want one for lowering packs.
The problem with his writing is that he’s very unclear about which chute you actually want. It’s a pretty simple situation: you approach from the overlook and encounter three chutes. The first two chutes are very steep. The third one is a non-option; it essentially runs into the vertical wall where it forms a corner, so you are choosing between the first chute and the second chute. You take the first chute.
Also, I disagree with his description of equipment needed. You should definitely have a rope for lowering packs, and for safety’s sake, you should also have equipment for a belay. We made it without belay equipment, but it was sketchy. A final recommendation for any trip in Steck’s guidebook: take a small group, 6 people or less. Any complications you encounter are harder to overcome with a big group.
Aside from grumblings amongst the group about this poor description, the hike itself was, as always, grand. Ryan had an old knee injury that flared up during our descent, so he ended up heading back up the trail on Day 3, along with Chad, Willie and Ian. They got out a few nights early and did some exploring in southern Utah, car camping and listening to metal. Ian made this video (highly recommended) showing his version of the week’s travels. Pete, Rich, Char and I continued on as planned and we all met up at the end.
Satellite map of our route
This collection has photos taken by Rich, Chad, Char and me.
I’ve just received confirmation of the hiking permit I applied for to explore the Grand Canyon in April of 2015. I’m stoked. The backcountry of the Grand Canyon has become one of my favorite places to go backpacking. For its isolation, beauty, and challenge, there’s nothing better.
Kanab Creek, April 2014
To tide myself through the winter, I’m happy to look back through these photos of our trip from earlier this year. Willie, Colin and I started from the overlook near the Indian Hollow trailhead, and followed a route from George Steck’s guidebook, Grand Canyon Loop Hikes. Our upcoming trip is another chapter from the same book, and will travel through similar terrain, mostly cross-country, in Tuckup Canyon.
This is a video from a backpacking trip I took earlier this year with Colin and Willie. We started from Indian Hollow, on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Willie and I had been on a similar trip organized by Chad in 2011. On this time around, we tried to find the cross-country route through Cranberry Canyon via a landmark called Ghost Rock. Despite our efforts, Ghost Rock lived up to its name. We never did find it, so headed back to the trail and continued onward.
After that, we followed the same route as that earlier trip: southeast to Thunder River, then west to Deer Creek, down the Colorado to Kanab Creek, and north up Kanab Creek, Jumpup Canyon and Indian Hollow, eventually curving east back to our starting point. It’s a week long voyage, mostly cross-country, that traverses all the layers of the canyon from top to bottom to top again. Don’t miss Colin catching a sucker fish with his bare hands, which is known as ‘noodling’. It starts at about 12:10.