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Upper Phantom Canyon

 
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Hnak





Joined: 06 Jan 2003
Posts: 1765
Location: Prescott, AZ

PostPosted: 3/23/2011, 10:01 am    Post subject: Upper Phantom Canyon Reply to topic Reply with quote

A couple months ago I ran into an old friend at a local shopping center. I've known Dave for quite a few years, taken a few classes he taught at Yavapai College, and went hiking with him once, around 10 - 12 years ago. At that time, he was trying to get to the summit of Isis Temple, one of the taller buttes in the Grand Canyon. On that trip we got up to Utah Flats, an area up on the Tonto Plateau area above Phantom Ranch. When we got there, we were thoroughly rained upon and decided to bail out rather than prolonging the ordeal.

While we were talking, he mentioned that he was going to try it again and asked me if I would like to go along. I wasn't too confident in my capabilities after having to bail on a hike last October, but I said I'd like to try. After all, Dave is 74, so I hoped I would be able to keep up with him. He's no slouch though, as he and a friend of his did the first ascent of Zoroaster Temple (another rugged, technical climb in the Canyon) back in 1958. He said a couple other climbers were coming to do the technical stuff, and we could just follow them. It began to sound like fun, sorta...

So, off I went. I met Dave and the other two guys at Bright Angel Lodge bright and early Saturday morning. Along with Dave was Steve, age 57, who climbed Zoroaster with Dave again in 1976, and James, a guy in his late 30's to early 40's who was a very strong climber, and would carry all of the technical gear and rope for the climb. After a great breakfast at Bright Angel Restaurant, we caught the shuttle bus to the South Kaibab trail head, and headed down the trail. It was really nice to be in the Canyon again, and I was really enjoying myself. As we passed the Tipoff, and headed into the inner gorge, I smiled to myself. It had been 3 - 4 years since I had been down here, and it was really good to be back! We finally got to the river, and went up to campsite #1 at Bright Angel campground, and sat down to rest for a while. Steve and Dave went up to the canteen to pick up the duffels they had shipped down on the mules. After packing up the necessary gear, we started up the route to Utah Flats...



I had forgotten how steep and loose this route was (or maybe I'm just getting 'more mature'), but it was quite a climb. I'm really glad that I didn't take some of you up this route when we went to play in Phantom Creek. You'd still be cussin' me out about it. As we approached the top of the climb, we were momentarily confused about how to get through the 'Piano Alley' area, a jumble of piano and larger rocks. We finally just made our way across however we could, and eventually topped out just as the sun was setting. We found a relatively flat spot and called it home for the night...



Sunday morning, after a leisurely breakfast, we headed up the ledges from Utah Flats, trying to find the route to Phantom Creek. We soon came across a reasonable path, and and after wandering through a large field of cactus, we headed up a hill to where the route would parallel Phantom Creek for a mile or so. The path contoured along, in and out of a number of small drainages before turning and going steeply down towards Phantom Creek, just above 30 foot waterfall. From here we headed upstream for a couple miles on a route that was sometimes fairly nice, and sometimes really brushy. At the confluence of Phantom and Haunted Canyons we decided to call it a day as we were getting tired and the daylight was fading. After some searching we found a small grassy area that would be home for the night.



Monday was the day that the climb to the summit was to be attempted. I decided that it would have been a really long day, so I decided to hang out in Phantom Canyon while the climbers went off up stream to climb the Redwall break and make the summit attempt. After they left, I slowly packed up and wandered back downstream. I stopped for a while at the 'Overhang camp', where I had camped some years ago on another rainy trip. This place probably has room for a dozen people under the overhang, and is a really nice camp. I then continued on down to the camp just above the waterfall and hung out there for a good part of the day, taking pictures and enjoying the quiet of the Canyon. Late in the afternoon Dave, Steve and James appeared and joined me at the campsite. As it turned out, it was a lot further to the Redwall break than we had thought, and they decided that there just wasn't enough time to do all that was planned and still get back at a reasonable hour (daylight), so they decided to head back downstream. We had a nice evening together, telling stories and being generally crazy...



Tuesday was a long day. We began by packing up and heading up the long climb out of Phantom Creek, then the traverse below Cheops Pyramid before wandering back to the Utah Flats area. We had originally planned on staying here Tuesday evening and hiking out on Wednesday. Steve realized that in order to get his excess stuff in a duffel ready for the mules to haul out, he would need to be down at Phantom Ranch before 6:30 AM Wednesday morning. We discussed some alternatives, like hiking down from Utah Flats before dawn (scary), hiking halfway down and camping on the saddle, then doing the rest early in the morning (illegal, and still scary), or just going down to Phantom Ranch tonight and hoping to find a cancellation at the campground. We chose the latter...



Unfortunately, as this was Spring Break weekend, the campground was not only full, it was overbooked. Our contingency plans of either Indian Gardens or the Cremation area didn't work either. However, on the plus side, we did manage to snag 4 cancellations for the stew dinner, which was REALLY good! So, after gorging ourselves, we shouldered our packs and headed for the South Kaibab trail. Near Boat Beach we stopped to rest for a while, and let the dinner start to digest. After a short nap, we started slowly, very slowly up the trail. In many areas we didn't need the headlamps, as the moon was nearly full. We proceeded slowly up past the Tonto junction and up through the Redwall. At Skeleton Point we stopped for a break and some food. The three others decided to pull out their sleeping bags for a short nap. I was getting cold so I continued slowly up the trail, walking just barely fast enough to stay warm. I didn't want to go too fast, because I would then just have to stand at the trail head, freezing in the cold wind, and wait for the shuttle buses to start. After about an hour I saw their headlamps coming up the trail behind me, which was a relief. On through the night we went, finally arriving at the rim around dawn. We then took the buses back to Bright Angel lodge, had another great breakfast, and headed home.

It was a great trip, and it felt really, really good to be back in the Canyon! I also added a couple new editions to my Phantom Ranch t-shirt collection. Can't wait to get back...

Hank

P.S. I put a few more photos in the gallery...
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desertgirl





Joined: 19 Jan 2003
Posts: 3350
Location: Chandler, AZ

PostPosted: 3/23/2011, 1:36 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

What a great story Hank! Applause
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wanderingsoul





Joined: 19 Jul 2004
Posts: 2285
Location: Gilbert AZ

PostPosted: 3/24/2011, 8:15 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Nice Trip Hank

Been a long time coming but your BaaaaacK !!!

Sounds like you had a Great time and enjoyed

Thanks for sharing your pics
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Wanderingsoul (Michelle)

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LongStoryShort





Joined: 04 Oct 2004
Posts: 402
Location: Doha, Qatar

PostPosted: 3/24/2011, 11:25 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Nice trip, Hank. I'm jealous.
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tibber





Joined: 16 Feb 2004
Posts: 247
Location: Phoenix

PostPosted: 3/25/2011, 8:55 am    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Great write-up & photos, thank you for sharing it with us! Glad you got to get back to the GC so soon.
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azbackpackr
Hi Tech Wizardess




Joined: 31 Dec 2005
Posts: 3639
Location: Needles CA

PostPosted: 3/25/2011, 11:09 am    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Hank, I sent this to my pal, Mike C. He appreciated it very much.
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Hnak





Joined: 06 Jan 2003
Posts: 1765
Location: Prescott, AZ

PostPosted: 3/25/2011, 12:22 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

azbackpackr wrote:
Hank, I sent this to my pal, Mike C. He appreciated it very much.

Would that be Mike Coltrin?

and...

Thanks to all for the kind words! I'll have to put together a GHOTM before it gets too hot down there... Mr. Green
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paintninaz





Joined: 06 Jan 2003
Posts: 3515

PostPosted: 3/25/2011, 7:40 pm    Post subject: Re: Upper Phantom Canyon Reply to topic Reply with quote

Hnak wrote:
I had forgotten how steep and loose this route was (or maybe I'm just getting 'more mature'), but it was quite a climb. I'm really glad that I didn't take some of you up this route when we went to play in Phantom Creek. You'd still be cussin' me out about it.


I distinctly remember you telling us that route was "interesting" Say What? so we wouldn't have been cussin' you out...we knew the potential consequences of anything you deemed "interesting"!! Eek Chuckle

Great trip report Hank! Glad you're getting some playtime in the Canyon!! Agree
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azbackpackr
Hi Tech Wizardess




Joined: 31 Dec 2005
Posts: 3639
Location: Needles CA

PostPosted: 3/25/2011, 9:31 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Hnak wrote:
azbackpackr wrote:
Hank, I sent this to my pal, Mike C. He appreciated it very much.

Would that be Mike Coltrin?


One and the same!
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MaxPower





Joined: 16 Nov 2010
Posts: 28
Location: Prescott, AZ

PostPosted: 3/31/2011, 5:13 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Nice trip Hank....fantastic photos too! I hear you on the "crowded Canyon during spring break" issue. I was day hiking down on Hermit last Sunday and it was pure insanity, with the groups going in and out. Usually I hardly see more than a half dozen people on this trail all day!
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Hikngrl
Canyoneering is my 'Happy Place'




Joined: 27 May 2003
Posts: 5578
Location: Peoria, AZ

PostPosted: 3/31/2011, 7:01 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Oh Hank! How wonderful! So there IS hope! I can't wait to go back! I pray our weekend this month works out!!! I'll go anywhere as long as it's in the canyon!
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Hnak





Joined: 06 Jan 2003
Posts: 1765
Location: Prescott, AZ

PostPosted: 4/1/2011, 2:06 pm    Post subject: Reply to topic Reply with quote

Hikngrl wrote:
Oh Hank! How wonderful! So there IS hope! I can't wait to go back! I pray our weekend this month works out!!! I'll go anywhere as long as it's in the canyon!


Yes, there IS hope! And, we WILL figure something out for that weekend this month... Hiking Hiking Hiking
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