Grand Canyon – The Tonto Trail

2010/11/5-8: Down, along the Tonto, down to river, and back up to rim – 28 miles

Our first short day took us down the heavily travelled Bright Angel trail to camp at Indian Gardens. We had lots of time to laze, and there is even a lending library of field guides to use. We’d only brought a tarp, which we rigged from the picnic table.
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The second day took us away from “the corridor” and eleven meandering miles along the Tonto trail. The Grand Canyon is complex terrain and this contour line trail provided many different views as we made our way to Monument Creek, where a spring emerges at the head of a box canyon.

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We had two nights at this lovely site, which allowed us to wander down to Granite Rapids on the Colorado River the next day and sit among the dunes for a while, watching a rafting group arrive. Our adventure back at our campsite was to discover that our final meal, a package of Harvest Works Beef Stroganoff recently purchased from MEC, was infested with mealy bugs!!!! Having little else left to eat on our last night, we carefully picked the discarded exoskeletons and obvious insect parts from the pasta and dried vegetables, and cooked it anyway, no doubt with quite bit of extra protein.
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Note: We’ve kept the packaging with evidence of the infestation as well as stamped manufacture dates so as to return it to MEC and to ask them to review their quality control and/or stocking practices. I will follow this through, because I know from my own kitchen that it is improbable that this was the only infested package.
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On the last day, we started early up the eight miles and 4500 feet to Hermit’s Rest. The morning was cloudy, and the soft light made for rewarding views as we plodded upward. In the early afternoon we got involved with helping a man who had become separated from his wife, and after some time of raised stress levels and blowing of whistles, it became clear she had  taken a wrong turn at a switchback, and had scrambled some distance into alarmingly steep and exposed terrain before stopping. They were a fit and experienced (he said) pair, but we wondered why they didn’t hike closer together, and we kept an eye on the frantic solo husband in case things escalated. We didn’t leave the scene till they were reunited and back on the trail. We’d noted all their information and were poised to rush to the top and summon rangers.
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We reached Hermit’s Rest in a cold drizzle, and hopped a shuttle back to our car. After a bite, we drove to Flagstaff for a motel with a hot bath, and spent an exciting evening trying to find the hole in the deflating Thermarest.
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