Grand Canyon via Bill Hall trail

20-24 Sep 2006 - by Jim Leininger

Headed up to the GC with Bill O, John L and Chris and Walda. Met Chris and Walda in Jacob Lake, then drove out to the trailhead - 67 to 22 to 425 to 292/292A to the parking area. Sorted and packed our gear and headed down the trail from Monument Point about 5:15 PM. The trail is initially quite steep and rugged, then there is a long slopping tra- verse across the White Wall, then a fairly steep section down to the beginning of the Esplanade and the junction with the trail coming in from Indian Hollow. Probably about 3 miles and about a 1600 foot drop. You can camp anywhere in this area, so we set up camp in a nice open area... We were up by about 7:15 AM on Thursday and on our way by about 8:45 AM. We hiked about 2 miles or so and found a spot to cache our extra water for the return hike back thru this area. Another mile or so of relatively flat area led us to the top of the Red Wall. We stopped here for a break and snack, and then headed down the steep trail into the Surprise Valley. The trail is fairly rugged but well set, then angles down and out across the bottom of the valley, turning left toward the Thunder River junction. This area is typical desert, very dry and bushy. We were all awe-struck when we reached the top of the rim where we could first see the Thunder River. The water literally spews straight out of vertical wall, tumbling down the wall in a majestic river that is really something to see.

After a nice rest and lunch, we headed on down the trail the rest of way to Upper Tapeats camp where we would spend the night. The camp is right along the creek, and fairly nice for a few campers. We set up and then relaxed for the rest of the afternoon, washing up and setting up camp. Dinner was good noodles with vegies, and then it was into bed early since it had been a long day and we had another ahead of us... Friday a.m. we were up about 7, had a quick breakfast, broke camp and headed on down Tapeats Creek towards the Colorado River. The trail along here can be on either side of the river, but we stayed on the right side all the way. There were 2 difficult, exposed sections where the trail was only a few inchs wide, sloped down and covered with gravel. I had to help Bill out in 1 short section by taking his pack and helping him thru a specially thin section, but it all worked out OK, and we were on our way again...

We reached the river by late morning. There were several rafts there from boaters on the river, whom we had seen heading upstream to Thunder River... We took a good break here and had a nice lunch... After that we turned right and followed the Colorado for a while. The trail was skimpy in the rocks, but there wer enough cairns to keep us headed in the right direction... We had to limb up and over one steep notch, the back along the river for a short ways... Then the trail headed back up onto the rocky bluffs that run high above the river. We plodded along for another 2 or 3 miles, and finally hiked up and over a small ridge that dumped us right down into the Deer Creek drainage, where we would be spending the night. The camp was along Deer Creek, and was a fairly nice, open area with plenty of room. There were 2 others that spent the night with us, they were also heading back out the next morning...

Saturday we were up about 7 since it was going to be a long day, 6 or 7 miles and over 3000 vertical feet of climbing. We left Deer Creek at about 8 and headed up the creek, then across and started up across a long, steep rockfall area. Ths slide area goes up along the Deer Creek Spring, which is another, smaller stream that comes directly out of the sheer rock wall... After passing this area and then traversing across the top of the cliff area, we headed up a small valley that eventually led us back into the Surprise Valley, which we had crossed when we came down off the Red Wall on our way in to Thunder River...

This was where I really hit the wall. My legs were tired and sore, and I kept having to stop every few minutes to regain my breath and rest my legs. It probably took me over an hour just to climb up thru this one steep area.... By the time I reached the top, everyone else had been there for a while so we rested a few minutes, then headed back across the Esplanade to where we had cached our water on the way in. We were there by about 2, so we decided to rest here in the shade until about 4 and then hike on to where we had camped the first night, at the bottom of the White Wall. We reached here about 5 or so, set up camp and just rested up until our dinner, which was chicken soup with extra chicken and noodles... That hit the spot.. Since it was fairly cool again, we were in bed by about 8 PM, wanting to be up early and on the way out...

Sunday we were up, packed and on the trail by about 7 AM. This is a fairly steep section of the trail, especially the last section, but it went quickly and we were back at the cars by about 9:15 AM. A little cleanup and we were on the way out by 10 AM. We all went back to Jacob Lake for a quick lunch and then headed on home... We were back in Tucson by 8 PM....

Overall this was a good trip with some incredible scenery up and down the canyon. The hiking is often steep but can be managed..


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