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  1. #1
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    Default Grand Canyon Hermit Loop

    Starting April 29, I did a 4-night 5-day Hermit loop trek in the Grand Canyon. I started with a day exploring the rim, including about 8 miles on the Rim Trail and a 1/2 mile off trail trek to the rarely seen Zuni Point overlook. Prehike meals of note were the Navajo Tacos at Cameron Trading Post and lunch at El Tovar (reservations required).

    Trek itinerary was S Kaibab to Bright Angel Campground, then Bright Angel Trail to Indian Gardens Campground, then Tonto Trail to Monument Creek Campground, then Tonto Trail to Hermit Creek Campground, then Hermit Trail to Hermit's Rest. That adds up to about 46 miles and 10,000 feet elevation gain and 10,000 feet loss.

    I submitted a permit request in late Nov for the Dec 2 lottery for an April hike. I lucked out, having mine picked on the first day. To prepare i lost 24 pounds and walked 30 min on the treadmill every night. I had zero physical problems (blisters, joints, muscles, etc) which suprised me. At 63 YO i had never done a hike of this magnitude and had not been backpacking for a few years. Pack weight was about 15 lbs, not including food, water, and camera (Fujifilm XE3 /18-55 mm zoom). Weather was high sunny, high in the 90s. Heat was not really an issue, but wind was ferocious on a few days.

    Day 1 gave amazing views on the S Kaibab Trail. There are new composting toilets at Cedar Ridge and Tip Off, which also also has a new rest shelter (which is amazing -had lunch there). After setting up camp i had a lemonade and iced tea at the Phantom Ranch Canteen. I then went down to boaters beach to rinse my socks, soak my feet, and lubricate them with a hand salve. I did this everyday. This plus my Brooks Cascadia trail runners gave me no foot problems. I went back to Phantom Ranch for the stew dinner (pre paid reservations required).

    I started the next morning with the Phantom Rach breakfast (the PR meals were a nice treat). Before heading up to IG, i hiked the N Kaibab trail up to the Phantom Creek junction to see some of The Box. I then hiked up to IG. This was a short day (camp set up by lunch) so for an afternoon excursion i hiked to Plateau Point, with a mile of off trail excursion along the rim of the inner gorge down river. The views from the Tonto are amazing - 360 degree views unlike thev180 degree views from the rim overlooks.

    The next day was a 10 mile trek west on the Tonto. Hot with no shade or water, but really not bad as it is mostly level. The worst part was going through Monument Canyon. The trail is marked with cairns, but in several places it was hard to follow. Just down stream from the campground the creek goes through a narrow slot canyoun of rose granite and other ancient metamorphic rocks. Very cool. Slaching in the water, sliding down thevslot is a great way to spendca hot afternoon.

    The next day was the easiest - just a few mile to Hermit Creek. This camp is amazing. My sitevwas directlyvabove a swimming hole with waterfall. Due to the short hike i had most of the day to explore, so I followed the creek down to the river and Hermit rapids. Hermit canyon has some of the most interesting rocks i saw. There i ate lunch and watched a raft run the rapids. Back at camp, i went swimming and rested up for the big climb out the next day.

    I got up before sunrise to get an early start on the 8 mile 3600 ft climb on the Hermit Trail. This is a good way to hike out since the trail follows the west side of a ridge so you are in the shade all day. There are a few rock fall that have not been cleared so a bit of scrambling is required. This is not maintained like the corridor trails. But the great thing about the Hermit loop is you can enjoy the seclusion of being off the corridor. There is wayer and a rest house at Santa Maria Spring. Its good to rest as the last climb from there is brutal. I had a good chat with a volunteer who was staffing the rest house and a park ranger and biologist i ran into on the way out.

    On my last day i met the GM of the Xanterra concessions at the park. We talked for a while about the staffing shortages they still struggle with. Then on the way to the airport, i can recommend MartAnnes Burritos for breakfast in Flagstaff.

    Let me know if you have questions or need info on hiking the Grand Canyon.
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  2. #2
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    Default

    Sounds like a great trip! Pic number 5 very unique.

  3. #3
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    Wow what a beautiful place!!
    Thanks for sharing:)

  4. #4
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    The Hermit Creek campground sounds amazing. Was there alot of people around like around camp ,swimming, hiking etc?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by HankIV View Post
    Sounds like a great trip! Pic number 5 very unique.
    That's the Monument slot canyon rch in rse colored granite.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by JNI64 View Post
    The Hermit Creek campground sounds amazing. Was there alot of people around like around camp ,swimming, hiking etc?
    Not crowded. I think i saw a dozen people that day. Only a few groups are given camping permits per night. There was another solo guy like me (not swimming) and a group of 4 women who were. Its unlikely you would get many day hikers. There was a group camping by the river (1.5 miles away).

  7. #7
    Registered User One Half's Avatar
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    what resources did you use to plan your trip?

    We are planning on spending next summer in AZ, NM, UT and hitting up all the "spots" like Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, Painted Desert, Petrified Forest, Carlsbad Caverns, Arches, Bryce, Zion, Canyonlands and Capitol Reef. We have as much time as we want but basically April - October before we head to wherever we will be for next winter.
    https://tinyurl.com/MyFDresults

    A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world. ~Paul Dudley White

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Half View Post
    what resources did you use to plan your trip?

    We are planning on spending next summer in AZ, NM, UT and hitting up all the "spots" like Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, Painted Desert, Petrified Forest, Carlsbad Caverns, Arches, Bryce, Zion, Canyonlands and Capitol Reef...
    For most up to date info, use the NP websites. Each park has its own rules for permits, resevations, etc, and they are often changing. Other on line or printed guides and advice are likely to be out of date. Last i saw, at least Arches, MV, and Zion had reservations requirements for some or all of the park. I also participated in the Grand Canyon backpacking Facebook group. Other parks may have active social media groups or forums. For maps i printed custom maps of where i was going from Caltopo.com . Another site i really like for planning info, especially for more obscure off-the-beaten-path destinations is this one

    https://www.americansouthwest.net/

  9. #9
    Garlic
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Half View Post
    what resources did you use to plan your trip?

    We are planning on spending next summer in AZ, NM, UT and hitting up all the "spots" like Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, Painted Desert, Petrified Forest, Carlsbad Caverns, Arches, Bryce, Zion, Canyonlands and Capitol Reef. We have as much time as we want but basically April - October before we head to wherever we will be for next winter.
    Also be aware that walk-in permits are usually readily available. The parks I've been to hold 25% of permits for walk-ins. Especially if you can be a little flexible, you can get a good trip without much advance planning. I did the OP's hike a few years ago as a walk-in, as well as numerous other Canyon trips in "The Corridor." In 2009 I hiked the Wonderland Trail as a walk-in and got all my first choices, including a choice night at Indian Bar. I easily got walk-in permits on the CDT in Glacier and Yellowstone.
    "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." John Muir on expedition planning

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by garlic08 View Post
    Also be aware that walk-in permits are usually readily available. The parks I've been to hold 25% of permits for walk-ins. Especially if you can be a little flexible, you can get a good trip without much advance planning...
    This is all good information. But in my case, i did not have flexibility due to work schedule. Plus my narrow window of opportunity was in peak season. Also, the park web page say permits set aside for walk ups are for 1 or 2 night trips in corridor camps. While this could be combined with the threshold sites, it is my understanding those are not set aside for walk ups. Another complication is that BA Camp is currently operating at half capacity due to infrastructure construction. I do know people who have used the walk up procedure so that is a viable option for some, but i wasn't in a position to travel all the way across the country and hope i might get a permit.

  11. #11
    Garlic
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    Quote Originally Posted by Odd Man Out View Post
    ...Another complication is that BA Camp is currently operating at half capacity due to infrastructure construction....
    Is the potable water system still down? There was a large folding fire tank deployed for campers' use last time I was there. But the campground was fully open.

  12. #12
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    No, it's the waste water treatment system. The campground and PR are both running at half capacity. They may close PR completely next year while they use it to house construction workers. They are not currently taking reservations for next year. I'm not sure if they will also close the campground. I heard they may even close some of the trails next year for construction.

    From https://www.grandcanyonlodges.com/lo...phantom-ranch/

    "Phantom Ranch is now open with limited services. The National Park Service (NPS) will be making critical repairs in the coming months to the waste water treatment facility at the bottom of Grand Canyon. As part of this project the occupancy at Phantom Ranch has to be reduced, in both guest overnight lodging and the campground in order to drastically lower water and wastewater going into the facility until it is repaired. This unfortunately results in the need to close the Phantom Ranch hiker dormitories and reduce the campsites in the campground by 50% at least through September 2022....The National Park Service has informed Xanterra Travel Collection that they are moving forward with the planning and eventual execution of major infrastructure rehabilitation projects, and that the projects will impact some of our concessions operations. Hence, we are pausing lottery entries / bookings for Phantom Ranch overnight mule rides beginning January 01, 2023 and hiker cabins for stays arriving May 01, 2023 onward. Portions of the Bright Angel Trail are anticipated to be closed at different times throughout the project. "

    Also:
    https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvis...l-closures.htm
    https://www.nps.gov/grca/learn/news/grca-phantom-ranch-opps-mod-06-30-2020.htm

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