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rubywrangler
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rubywrangler
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PostSun Dec 11, 2022 2:56 pm 
Continuing the trend of out of state trips... Julia and I met up on the north rim on the day before Thanksgiving for our second annual turkey day in the canyon. I had saved a bunch of info and TRs from this area on my phone but hadn't really read them yet, so we didn't have much of a (any) plan. We loaded up with water and set out from the saddle mountain trailhead (the lower elevation option off of buffalo ranch road/fr 8910) around 11am, hiked through a 2016 burn scar, and climbed 1500' to the park boundary/rim. Then we descended on the very meandering nankoweap trail to tilted mesa, where we dry camped in very windy conditions. Luckily there was a wind bunker waiting for us there. The park service description describes this as "MOST difficult of the named trails in Grand Canyon" but its really not that different from other non-corridor trails. Our camp spot was very scenic with views to nanko creek, mesa and butte as well as little nanko creek and lots of other stuff.
a new wilderness
a new wilderness
on the nankoweap trail
on the nankoweap trail
on the nankoweap trail
on the nankoweap trail
On day 2 we descended the rest of the way to nankoweap creek, then headed downstream to the river. We crossed paths with a couple other backpackers and then two trail runners who were part of a very kind private river rafting trip on a layover day. We took a break for lunch on the beach and then hiked up to the nankoweap granaries - WOW what a spectacular view! After awhile we headed back to the beach to find a campsite. On the way we passed through the rafters' camp and they invited us back later. We found a sweet campsite on a private beach facing downstream and I ate my first (home cooked and dehydrated) thanksgiving dinner. Then we walked over to the rafters camp where they fed us another thanksgiving dinner of traditional sides plus ham, plus beverages, around a campfire. It was a really lovely evening and I went to bed properly overstuffed.
sunrise self portrait
sunrise self portrait
tilted mesa view toward nanko creek
tilted mesa view toward nanko creek
julia in the wind fortress
julia in the wind fortress
nanko creek - mesa - butte
nanko creek - mesa - butte
looking back to tilted mesa
looking back to tilted mesa
nanko creek
nanko creek
granaries
granaries
nanko granaries
nanko granaries
view from camp
view from camp
Day 3 was a little slow starting due to the previous night's fun times. After a quick detour up the granaries trail for photos we headed back up nankoweap creek from whence we came. We dropped overnight gear in a creekside campsite we had noticed the previous day, and headed for nankoweap mesa. The route goes up a gully which starts easy, and then splits, then comes back together. We took the left fork because the right fork looked kind of brushy. It was fun and solid until the last bit of steep scree we had to climb to get out. We ended up on a ridge overlooking the other gully and worked our way down to it easily. We kept going straight up this gully and ended up at a saddle. According to caltopo we were on route, but caltopo is wrong. After wandering a little further and re-reading some descriptions we determined that we had missed a turn, so we dropped down and climbed up to a different saddle a little further east, where we found a bootpath. The path faded after we descended but eventually we worked our way to the main gully which leads all the way up to the mesa. It is long and scrambly but mostly not difficult. This description was very helpful for the section above the Hermit shale.
fall color
fall color
en route to nanko mesa, above the first gully
en route to nanko mesa, above the first gully
en route to nanko mesa
en route to nanko mesa
only 1000' feet to go
only 1000' feet to go
route climbs up to the right here
route climbs up to the right here
climbing talus to the final saddle
climbing talus to the final saddle
Nankoweap mesa is huge and has all kinds of views. We spent over an hour criss-crossing it from side to side and end to see them all. Then it was time to go. We were running low on daylight and hoped to get down to the bottom of the main gully before dark. Almost made it. Then up and over the saddle and back to the split gully. We took the other fork this time which was a mistake imo, it was more difficult and not fun by headlamp (but probably would have been fun to ascend in the daylight). It took a long time and I was totally zoned out and then suddenly we popped out in nankoweap creek! It was late and cold so we ate dinner quickly, guzzled hot chocolate, and went to bed.
nanko mesa view
nanko mesa view
tiny glimpse of river
tiny glimpse of river
nanko mesa
nanko mesa
nanko mesa looking south(ish)
nanko mesa looking south(ish)
descending
descending
On Day 4 we decided to move camp upstream in one of the nanko side canyons to be in a better position to try an off-trail route out of the canyon. Then we explored Mystic canyon, which was FREEZING. It is one of those narrow side canyons that does not see the sun at this time of year. As per usual I only had running shorts so I was extra freezing, and every little branch that smacked my legs felt like a whip. But it was worth it once we made it to mystic falls, a huge waterfall that flows from a perennial spring high in the canyon. From there we tried to decipher the location of some granaries based on cryptic reports, and were able to locate them not far from the falls. From the granaries I spotted another something in the wall across the canyon that looked distinctly not natural so we hiked over to check that out and found some more ruins, accessible only via a steep gully far from any trail. We found some old corn cobs in these ones. I don't think they see many visitors. We made it back to camp in time to watch the sunset, had dinner and went to bed early as we planned to get an early start the next day.
heading upstream
heading upstream
sieber pt
sieber pt
mystic falls
mystic falls
mystic falls
mystic falls
mystic falls
mystic falls
granaries
granaries
mystic falls
mystic falls
mystic falls
mystic falls
spotted another building in the wall across the canyon
spotted another building in the wall across the canyon
On our last day we took the Marion-Sieber route, also known as the "freefall" route due to its directness, which climbs ~3 mi to the rim that between Marion point and Sieber point. The descriptions of this route are very convoluted and past reports had indicated that it could take anywhere from 8-14 hours. But we found it to be pretty straightforward. You follow the canyon between the two points (marked with occasional cairns) (some scrambling required but not continuous) until it splits, then follow a cairn on the left up a scree slope, then keep going up until you get the supai, then follow cairns back to the trail. It took us a little over 4 hours to get back to the rim, and another hour to the car where very very cold car beers and snacks were waiting. Then a long drive back to flagstaff for excellent burgers at Diablo burger.
starting out on marion-sieber
starting out on marion-sieber
climbing above the 5600' spring
climbing above the 5600' spring
typical scrambling up the canyon
typical scrambling up the canyon
looking back down the steep scree slope, almost out of the gully
looking back down the steep scree slope, almost out of the gully
looking back down the final scrambly bit
looking back down the final scrambly bit
in the supai!
in the supai!
climbing through the supai
climbing through the supai
back on the trail
back on the trail
Fun time in a new part of the canyon for me. Thankful to get to spend a few days here with good company, again!

drewcoll, Brushbuffalo, djt63, Gimpilator, Cam, fffej50, jaysway, Eric Hansen, Prosit, Slim, JonnyQuest, silence, John Mac, HitTheTrail, Nancyann, Tom, raising3hikers, zimmertr, graywolf, vogtski, jstern, neek, Kascadia  Lindsay, awilsondc  fourteen410  geyer, kite
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zephyr
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Joined: 21 Jun 2009
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zephyr
aka friendly hiker
PostSun Dec 11, 2022 5:37 pm 
So many beautiful images. Great report. It was fun to hear about your making friends with fellow adventurers along the way. Those homes in the great wall/crack raise a lot of questions. ~z

rubywrangler
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Eric Hansen
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Eric Hansen
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PostMon Dec 12, 2022 8:52 pm 
Great pictures and report Megan. You are styling, doing some great routes there.

Off trail rambler

rubywrangler, silence
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silence
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silence
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PostThu Dec 29, 2022 2:14 pm 
Again, just went back and read your detailed and insightful report for a 2nd time. First off, great photos as always! They help so much to support your awesome and challenging trip. I love imagining how life was in the past, for both for the Navajos and the whites. Thanks so much for sharing your boots on the ground experience. I wish we could do this some day from the rim, but think the only way now for our old legs would be from the river. Please just keep on truckin'

PHOTOS | FILMMAKING Keep a good head and always carry a light bulb. Bob Dylan

rubywrangler
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drewcoll
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drewcoll
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PostThu Dec 29, 2022 3:11 pm 
This looks awesome. Did you need National Park permits for camping, or were you only camping in the national forest? Were they easy to get?

rubywrangler
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rubywrangler
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rubywrangler
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PostFri Dec 30, 2022 5:36 pm 
We camped in the park and needed permits - the rim is the boundary. In my experience, permits are not that difficult to get for non-corridor sites in November. We got ours about 2 weeks in advance. But this was our second choice so there is still some competition.

drewcoll
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