Nankoweep Termination

"As long as there are canyons, man will be drawn to them"AnonymousLeaving work on Friday afternoon was quite challenging and stressful,howeverwe were able to make it to Marble Canyon Lodge around 7:30P.M. in time foranice trout dinner and a good nights rest.In the morning we got an early start to the connecting trailhead which wasa35 mile backroad drive. This approach to the Nankoweep trail is longer andmore difficult than the approach from forrest road 610, off the North RimParkway.The approach trail at the North Rim is shorter, and not as steep, butHighway67 from Jacob's lake was closed. This route is highly recommended over theone we took, if the road is open.Our route took us through the beautiful Saddle Mountain Wilderness. Weendedup taking the wrong trail a mile in. We took the Saddle Mountain trailwhichdoes not show on the trails illustrated Topo. It does show on the forrestservice map. This trail is a more distinct trail at an intersection with alight trail going into a drainage being the correct connecting trail thatweshould have followed. We spent much unnecessary energy on elevation gainandsome distance prior to determining that this trail was continuing NorthEastand we needed to go South.Lesson learned-Take off your packs and check out both trails prior to goingforward!Back on track, losing an hour, we ascended another 1200 feet to the top ofthe saddle where the Nankoweep trail begins. Lost about an hours time.Note: The other trail was the Saddle Mountain trail that goes 6 miles outandapparently offers incredible views of Marble Canyon.The Nankoweep trail is billed as the "scariest" (Arizona Highways) and thetoughest Canyon hike in most hiking books. It has the greatest elevationloss from rim to river in the Canyon.We cached water at Marion point ridge approximately 6 miles in and thenheaded for Tilted Mesa ridge. This is a beautiful trail, and certainly doeshave exposure, is difficult and demanding like many canyon hikes, butoverallto this point I felt the danger and difficulty was overrated. You do needtowalk carefully as the trail often has a very narrow passage withconsiderable exposure along the edge of the steep cliffs.We arrived at tilted Mesa -about 9 miles at 2:00. The next leg to Nankoweepcreek, our original destination is a steep 2000 foot drop in 3 and a halfmiles.It was at this point that my hiking partner Steve announced that he was alldone having fun. He had made the decision that he did not want to negotiatethe next phase and there was no changing his mind. Perhaps due to the factthat one of the masters of the Canyon had done this hike five times prior,itwas simply not worth it for him.Steve wanted to go back to Marion point? and hike out the next morning andgoback. This would cut our trip from 4 days to two. I really had no choicebuttry to make the best of it and go along with his decision. This wasdifficult, but El Lobo handled it.Soooooo we hiked back to Marion's Point and set up camp after logging 12miles with heavy packs and probably 3000 feet of elevation gain/loss.The campsite was nice with great views on a ridge, but really windy.We both had purchased new Walrus one person tents in lieu of using bivysacks and they worked out great!! We both really like them. Highlyrecommended-light and roomy!The next morning we rose early and was back to the car by 9 and at MarbleCanyon Lodge for the traditional shower at 11:00. El Lobo enjoyed a16 oz.budlight while Steve got his usual burger and fries.Made it back to Phoenix at 4:30, in time to have a few glasses of vino withClint & Jakes Mom, Gerry, whom already had been into a little winewhileenjoying a Mother's day luncheon with Clint.Even though not not getting to Nankoweep Creek was extremely disapointing,Irate the hike an 8 because it still is the Grand Canyon!!!This will give me the opportunity to get there another time via the otherconnecting trail, and to see a different part of the Saddle Mountain

No comments: