- Dec 8, 2017 at 5:34 pm #3506225
Stinson 108BPL Member
You folks have been super helpful in the past and I sure appreciate it. I’m hoping to snag a permit for the Thunder River Deer Creek loop for late May. Basically I could start any day from May 21 on. Just FYI I did the North Kaibab this past year in late July so I know how hot it can be at the bottom. Late May is the best I can do because of work. I did South Kaibab and Bright Angel maybe 4 years ago in March. I’ve also done a lot of hiking in southern Utah. I love hiking in the desert SW. I’m also familiar with the permit process.
My questions are really about where to camp and how much water to bring. I know I need to cache water on the Esplanade. What’s the best way to do that? Gallon jugs from Wally world? One trip guide suggested camping on the edge of the Esplanade the first night but most people try for Upper Tapeats? Then maybe along the river, then Deer Creek and then up to the Esplanade? I’d like to do this as 4 nights and 5 days. I like to dawdle and look at stuff, I’m not at all mileage goal oriented. Also do I limit my permit chances if I try for 6 people? Is 4 more realistic? I’m not going alone but I have a core group of 4 but might add a couple of students if 6 would work out. Let me know what you all think and as always thanks for all the advice.Dec 8, 2017 at 6:20 pm #3506230
To start with an easy one – a “small” group is defined as 1-6 people, so applying for anywhere between 1 and 6 (hiking as one group) has the same chance of success. Applying for 7 or more would be a “large” group and reduce your chances.
It’s impossible to give a definitive answer about how far any group should aim for on the first day, or how much water to carry & cache, beyond “a lot”. It depends so much on fitness, pack weight and conditions. In any event, Monument Point to Upper Tapeats is 9.2 miles per GCNP sheet:
I don’t think critters are attracted to water per se. The only time I’ve had critters interfere with a water cache has been when I have transferred food smell to the container from my hands. I’ve had a rodent chew laboriously through the hard plastic lid of a platypus (and then not drink anything) when it could have chewed through the soft sides in a few seconds. I don’t think the bottle material matters that much – if a rodent wants in, it will get through any kind of plastic; but they are not interested unless it smells of food. I have on rare occasions put a 2L platypus inside an OutSak UL mesh bag for a life-or-death cache. I don’t think that’s necessary, but I would certainly split a critical cache among multiple smaller containers rather than one big container, and hide in more than one location. Quite honestly, my biggest concern would be other humans stealing my water, so hide it well.
The only reliable water is Tapeats Creek, lower Deer Creek & the River.
The last time I did the route along the river (2 years ago I think) between Tapeats and Deer it was straightforward. A few steep bits of washed out trail, but nothing I would classify as scrambling.
Oh, and when you’re on the fun bit of trail through the lower Deer Creek narrows, don’t forget to look out for the handprints on the walls. The first time I visited I had no idea they were there and walked right past them.Dec 12, 2017 at 1:29 pm #3507055
David ChenaultBPL Member
@davecLocale: Queen City, MT
The edge of the Esplanade there is an awesome campsite. Flat slickrock and sunset views for 50 miles. I’d consider going down Deer Creek and up Tapeats. First, because you can tank up with water near the Thunder River spring and gain a bit of elevation over Deer, and second because as spectacular as the Deer narrows and waterfall is, Thunder River is moreso.
On a hot September trip a while ago we ate dinner at the Thunder River spring, tanked up, and hiked the couple hours up to the Esplanade after the sun disappeared. We camped on the Esplanade and finished up the Bill Hall trail before things got too hot. Our route didn’t allow us to cache water, and this approach made it so we didn’t have to haul too much overnight.Dec 13, 2017 at 6:41 am #3507227
Nick SmolinskeBPL Member
@smoLocale: Rogue Panda Designs
As far as campsites go, bear in mind that the Thunder River sites have some extremely aggressive mice. I would expect Deer Creek to be similar. Definitely bring your A-game with the rodent protection.
We were there in December, in the middle of a 2-week mostly off-trail adventure, and were not carrying any protective bags due to the remoteness of our campsites. But at the Thunder River one the mice were bad. My partner had a mouse actually tunnel it’s way through the length of a Snicker’s bar, leaving the chocolate shell intact but eating all the filling.Dec 13, 2017 at 3:23 pm #3507257
For rodent protection, you can just hang your food from a branch. But its best to use very thin cord, I use the 1.2mm Dyneema cord like this:
Or you can incorporate a length of thin wire.Dec 13, 2017 at 8:10 pm #3507322
Nick SmolinskeBPL Member
@smoLocale: Rogue Panda Designs
Hmm, I like the idea of adding some very thin wire or thin slick cord. I still would not be surprised if the Grand Canyon mice were able to figure it out though – they are rather crafty.
Although at that campsite, I actually hung my food sack from my Trailpix tripod and that was enough to protect it. Or maybe the mice just found that it was easier to get at the food in my partner’s pack (just hanging off a branch). The old “bring a slow friend to bear country” tactic.Dec 13, 2017 at 10:38 pm #3507350
Rodent skillz seem to vary considerably, but I have never had one manage to climb down that thin Dyneema cord.
The only time a critter has defeated a hang like that for me is at Elephant Canyon #2 in Canyonlands, where something was smart enough to climb onto the branch, chew through the Dyneema cord (no easy project) near the branch and drop the whole bag to the ground. It’s a notorious spot, apparently. This was during the day, and I forget what the rangers thought it was, but not a mouse, I don’t think a mouse is smart enough to work that out.
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