Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim

We're back home and mostly unpacked after a 4-day backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon. Our friends Whitney & Jeff had a permit and invited us, along with their friends Jim and Kiryn. We started at the North Rim (8200') down the North Kaibab Trail to the Colorado River (2450'), and then up to the South Rim (6860'). 14 miles down, 9.5 miles up. Then we caught a shuttle bus back to our vehicles at the trailhead on the North Rim. We camped at the bottom of the canyon, and at midpoints on each side; that made for fairly easy hiking days.

Yes, it was hot! But we managed by hiking early in the morning, soaking our shirts in the creek when we could, and relaxing in the shade during the heat of the day. At Phantom Ranch (the bottom of the canyon) it was 107F in the shade! Maybe that's why I forgot to take any pictures there...

My Picasa web album for the backpacking trip

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Surprise and Amphitheater

What a difference a few days make! Last Sunday Eric and I were hiking in a snowstorm at 8000'. Today we hiked up to Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes; yes, in the snow, but under very different conditions. We were comfortable in t-shirts and shorts at 9800'.

There was patchy snow on the trail starting at about 8500', in the shaded spots. By 9000' we were hiking on all snow. Fortunately, the snow was well-consolidated and supportable, there was almost no post-holing going on. Above 9500' there was a top layer of 4-6" of mush from last weekend's storm cycle.
We got the opposite of an alpine start; we left Lupine Meadows trailhead at 2:45, but that was p.m. rather than a.m.  We met a half-dozen people coming out from the lakes, but saw nobody once we were up there. We ate a quick snack at Surprise Lake,
sat in the sun for a few minutes at Amphitheater Lake,
and then hiked up to the col between Amphitheater Lake and Glacier Gulch. We were hoping for views of the Teton Glacier; it was hidden around the corner so we had to settle for the moraine instead.
Then we headed back down; 3100 vertical feet later we were back at the car by 7:15. A very pleasant late afternoon stroll!