Thunder River

This was one of the best backpacks I have participated in. Nothing lessthangreat.My good friend of 36 years-Bob Shea arrived on schedule Friday morning fromDenver and we were able to get on the road by 1:00 P.M after some finalprep.We arrived at North Kaibab Lodge around 8:00 P.M. and made contact withSteveYahner, the GC warrior whom I hiked the South Canyon with in July. We hadagreat trout dinnner at the lodge and were able to retire early and was abletoget a good night's sleep.Steve's two friends Lynn and Russ met us in the morning and it took us onlyanhour on backroads to reach the trailhead at monument point. The backroadsare reasonably smooth and the Bill Hall parking trailhead is close to 30milesfrom the pavement.Russ finished the drive with a flat tire. We decided to change it when wereturned. The winds were high on the rim and it was quite chilly startingoutat 7050 ft.The trail eventually drops abrubtly and is difficult downhill travel,contending with the steepness and the rock/loose shale.The temperatures were perfect for this type of hike. The trail offers someofthe best scenery in the Canyon. We enjoyed beautiful long range vistas andbroad slickrockfor the first part of the descent. Some of this is very reminiscent of theslickrock around Moab in Canyonlands. We all carried an extra gallon ofwater(additional 8 lbs.) and cached it at the Esplanade where we would stay onthelast night.After descending a moderate grade through the sun scorched Surprise Valley,Iexclaimed what is that sound Bob? Is it Thunder? Yes!!! It is THUNDERRIVER,MAN!!!!!!!!THUNDER RIVER came into view and is one of the most remarkable sights thatIhave ever seen. THUNDER RIVER surges out of twin caves, dropping 150 feetandthen crashes steeply down a canyon for a half mile, rushing into TapeatsCreek. AMAZING!!!!!!The whitewater roar is deafening. Tall cottonwoods line the banks of theriver. The view of this river is equally impressive to a view of the GeatBarrier Reef.IT'S THUNDER RIVER, MANNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!We followed a relentlessly steep trail down to Lower Tapeats camp area andsetup camp close to the gushing Tapeats Creek.We enjoyed a pleasant evening, socializing with Steve, Russ, and Lynn.Therewas a full moon that night and the stars were abundant.The next day, Bob and I day hiked down to the Colorado and spent some quiettime relaxing. Lower Tapeats camp looks real nice but offers little shade.We enjoyed another pleasant evening with the group and started out earlythenext morning. The trip out and up was a lot easier coming in, than goingdown.We were able to find our cached water on the Esplinade and camped in anareathat had a view to kill for. We enjoyed yet another evening with the group.That night the temps got down to a "freezing" 39 and Bob from Minnesotacouldnot understand why us Arizonans were shivering in the morning and dressedlikeEskimoes.The hike out that morning although steep, proved to be easy for the entiregroup and we reached the rim early. Russ and Bob changed the tire in timetobe out of there at 10:00 A.M.Bob and I got back to Phoenix close to 7:00 P.M. in good shape to take careofour gear and get him to the airport the following morning with a goodnight'ssleep.Overall, I rate this hike a 9.9. It would get a ten but there were two manycars in the parking lot. We saw only few people, but knowing that they wereout there somewhere cost the hike .1 point.This was certainly one of the best packs that I have been on. The companywasgreat, and the beauty and taste of the Canyon magnificent.This hike was rated very strenuous in the book-dropping and climbing >5000ft.is always difficult, but I would give it a moderately strenuous rating.Definitely going uphill was easier than going down. Perhaps it would beverystrenuous in hotter climate. Our climate was close to perfect. October isprobably the best month to go.EL LOBO GRANDE SEZ:If you have ever wanted to see the Canyon. Do it!!!!!!! This is the bestpartof the GC.If you have ever wanted to do this loop. DO IT!!!!THUNDER!!!! THUNDER RIVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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