Jan 12, 2008 at 1:34 pm #1226697
Michael CassidyBPL Member
I'm thinking about doing a 3-5 day trip this winter (Jan or Feb) and have limited winter backpacking skills. Is the Grand Canyon a good option or am I crazy? If it is, what does anyone know about a thru hike of the Tonto Trail?Jan 12, 2008 at 5:10 pm #1415871
@joshjknappLocale: Northern Mn, Superior Hiking Trail
I think it is a great time to go! Not many people, and better weather. (imo) Once you descend from the rim they should not be much of a risk of snow. Although I was camping on the south rim during january of 2001, and we received 2 feet of snow in about 9 hours!! However about a 1000 feet below the rim there was no snow. I think this is very far from the norm on the south rim, but the north rim receives quit a bit of snow. I found some good weather info at this nps website.
http://www.nps.gov/archive/grca/pphtml/subenvironmentalfactors21.htmlJan 13, 2008 at 10:24 am #1415918
I hiked S. Bass to Tanner along the Tonto in 2000. It's about 105 miles. I think we started late February. Past April,water can get tricky. March is considered prime canyon season. It was 5 F on the S rim at night, but once you get into the canyon at the Tonto plateau level it maybe only got down to freezing at night. We had one week's food muled down to Phantom Ranch and reservations at the dorms to get cleaned up, eat some real food, and re-pack. We weren't going UL, maybe 35-40 lb packs. We had 2.5 lb down bags, a 4 lb tent, hard shell goretex pants and jackets, polarguard or down jackets. We slept out of the tent all but maybe 2 nights.
The primitive road into S. Bass can be tricky (mud, frozen) so we prefer to start there getting dropped off by someone with 4WD. The Escalante route east of Hance where the Tonto trail peters out is also easier to follow after you had time in the canyon. If you start at Tanner, getting onto the Escalante route is confounded by river rafters trails.
I know people who have through hiked the Tonto in 9 or 10 days. I suppose higher mileage is possible, but going down hill the first day usualy takes its toll, and the trails can be primitive and hard to follow in spots. Also, below the rim all camping is permitted, and the park narcs will fine you if you camp off permit either ahead or behind schedule. The back country rangers will also discourage issuing permits that have long days. They get a lot of unprepared people lured by the easy downhill walk, and tend to assume backpackers don't know what they are getting into.
I recommend trelling poles for the canyon. Their use on the first day going in is worth it alone.Jan 18, 2008 at 1:59 pm #1416676
I did East Tanner to West So Bright Angel> in late Jan 2005 or 06.
Lots of snow at the top to about 25% of the way down via a storm that just moved through. I had to be carfull (in the dark) not to slip on the ice/snow on the way down. But, there are many Pinon Pines to grab if you start slidding.
Poles would help. With food I was at 12 lbs. After a long drive to the So rim, I stayed @ the motel & relied on the one "taxi" to get to My Tanner start.
I thought I did everything right by reserving a very early pick-up way in advance.
That was blown out by all kinds of excusses the driver had. He was 1 & 1/2 hours late to pick me up.
Allong the Ecalante & Tonto elevation it was warm, +/- 60 deg days & +/- 40/45 deg nights. A new storm cought me with rain @ the base of Hance Cr. My 30 deg 18 oz down bag was too warm in my space blanket bivi. A tarp and synthetic bag would have been much better. The poles can help there too as it is a little difficult to pick spots that have enough brush to tie off to. This is partlly due to my averssion camping at the base of the creeks were the brush and "trees" grow. Major flash floods had occured 1 or 2 days before .
I was not in very good shape so holding +/- 30 mi/day was difficult with the shrot days.
A good flash light & some rain gear helped me climbing out in a heavey hail storm. Snow & ice were tricky the last 1 1/2 hours to the rim at about 11:30 PM.
I had the ability to carry up to 5L water. I expected to find more water sources than I did. I try to limit drinking Col river water.
It took extra time to get seapage and side trips into canyons for above ground water.
Happy Trail;s to Yoy.Feb 6, 2008 at 10:35 pm #1419486
The Tanner trail has been closed due to damage and no date has been given yet on its reopening. I'm running the Colorado through the Grand Canyon from Phantom Ranch to Diamond Creek at the end of March, so I'll be able to tell you what some of the hiking trails are like then.
NancyMar 17, 2008 at 8:44 am #1424627
@mcjhrobinsonLocale: Waaay West
In the beginning of March I did S. Kaibab trail coming down (from south rim) to bright angel campground and back up Bright Angel trail (camping at bright angel as well). Both trails weren't snowy, just icy. Anything below around 5000ft wasn't icy or snowy. I would suggest buying shoe spikes, they have them at the Marketplace $25 for a pair, and a trekking pole.Mar 24, 2008 at 8:46 am #1425390
@dsarkaLocale: Sierra Nevada
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