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Grand Canyon: Arrival and the Tanner Trail

April 21, 2014 — Traveling

Looking at Bright Angel Canyon towards the North Rim

After celebrating the resurrection of our Lord in the morning and flying to Phoenix in evening the prior day, I was back at the airport in the morning to catch a shuttle to the Grand Canyon. The ride passed some tall saguaro cacti, but was otherwise uneventful. Upon arriving at the canyon I retrieved my permit from the backcountry office without any issue. After all the hassle and trouble the rangers gave me in approving my “aggressive” backpacking itinerary, they handed over the permit without saying a word — no warning, water report, advice or cautions.

After setting up for the night at Mather Campground I took a stroll along the rim, where I finally caught sight of the beautiful canyon. It was amazing and impressive, especially its vast size. I will not bother trying to describe the vista in words, as mine would not do it justice. I enjoyed my short walk, taking it all in and burning the image into my memory.

April 22, 2014 — Tanner Trail

Route I hiked this day

Route I hiked this day

I took the morning Desert View Bus Tour and enjoyed the wondrous views along the canyon rim. The scale and perspective never ceased to amaze me as we drove near the edge and stopped at several lookouts. Since pretty much everyone who visited the Grand Canyon except me had a car, I have no idea why anyone would take this tour. The driver provided commentary, but the pricey tour only visited spots that were easily accessible from the highway. The bus was nearly full though. Still, it worked well for me to reach to my trailhead on the east end of the park without having to hitch.

Our furthest point east was at Desert View, whose tower provided even more spectacular views of the Grand Canyon and Colorado River. At the last lookout stop on the way back at Navajo Point I departed the bus and walked a mile down the road to Lipan Point where the Tanner Trail started. This path began with a steep descent along well constructed trail. It was mostly easy to follow, although I did veer off on an old route once and had some rough scrambling before finally rejoining the improved path.

The view from Desert View Point

Desert View Point

Down in the canyon I could see the walls up close, and gaped at the steep slopes and 500ft cliffs growing straight up. Quite a few cacti were also blooming with yellow or pink flowers, which added even more beauty to the afternoon.

The trail leveled on a shelf for a stretch before once again abruptly losing a lot of elevation quickly as it approached the bottom of the canyon. At the Colorado River I took a slight detour upstream on a narrow trail on a steep rock ledge to camp at what I thought was Tanner Beach. There I found a well sheltered site from the strong gusts of wind which had been blowing that afternoon.