Grand Canyon

Natalie and I have returned from our wonderful trip to the Grand Canyon and we can’t wait to go back! Click here if you want more pictures.

We flew to Phoenix and drove our rental car to the Grand Canyon area.  Anyone can camp in the Kaibab National Forest for free, so we parked the car right off the highway and hiked in on Forest Service road 306 for 1/4 mile (the minimum allowed).  The road was covered with snow and mud and we saw a stuck pickup truck off in the distance from where we pitched our tent.  The first night, we gathered up snow in our cooking pot and made mashed potatoes with bits of beef jerky. 


Later that night, the apparent owners of the pickup came back in another truck and it got stuck too.  The following day as we hiked back to the highway we saw the second truck had the logo of the Grand Canyon airport, which was just up the road.  3 inches of snow had fallen that night, so we cleared off our car and drove the last few miles to the Grand Canyon.

It turned rainy and misty as we descended into the canyon. Here we are in the Supai layer.

We passed a half-dozen people that day, more than we saw on the next 4 days put together. Here’s a view from the Boucher trail towards White’s Butte.
White's Butte
Notice the distinctive pale meadow on White’s Butte. We camped there rather than continue in the dark. The following morning, I climbed it at sunrise.


We headed down to Boucher creek and found a delightful little beach with stones of all colors. Here we are drying our sleeping bags:

After I walked down Boucher creek to the river, we headed over to slate canyon. The clouds gathered and shed some light sprinkles, foreshadowing the following day.

All Tuesday morning, it was cloudly, turning into a downpour with fierce winds in the afternoon. The tent stakes pulled out of the mud a few times and a lot of our gear got wet. Allowing time for things to dry off, we didn’t get on the road until 4 or so in the afternoon. I took a sidehike down slate canyon but gave up at a waterfall I couldn’t bypass. I suppose it would have been possible to cut around it, but it was already starting to drizzle by then.

Here is picture from Tuesday morning our tent, a tiny blue dot in the lower left. The red mountain in the background is Mencius temple and the yellow mesa in front of it is Scylla Butte.
As we headed out of slate canyon, we thought we might like to camp on the saddle of Scylla Butte, but it was too windy, so we proceeded to agate canyon. That night, we slept out on the Tonto platform with a nice river view.

Here we are Wednesday morning:

It turned cloudy and sprinkled a little as we finished our route to agate canyon (no running water, but pools), continued to sapphire canyon (running water) and returned to slate (lots of water). The naming pattern continues turquoise, jasper, jade, ruby, emerald, and quartz. See why this section of the park is called “The Gems”?.  We camped almost right in front of Scylla Butte this time.

Thursday was completely clear. We found out later that the rim had a blizzard during the first half of the week, which helps explain why we hadn’t seen any other people since Monday morning when we passed a tamarisk eradication coordinator going the other way. As we made our way back to Boucher, we finally saw some other human life: a team of tamarisk eradicators led by the man we met on Monday. That night we camped near the beach. Here’s a long view of our campsite:
The tent is in there, but it only gets about 4 pixels.

Friday, we decided we hadn’t seen a enough of slate, so we left our tent and walked the 9 mile roundtrip in the desert heat.
We napped until later in the afternoon and headed over to Hermit Creek camp, making this a 16 mile day. We got into Hermit creek right at dusk and for the first time, had a share a camp with two other parties. It felt like standing room only.

Saturday, we hiked out. As on the way in, the trail seemed to be clogged with people, mostly dayhikers.

More pictures can be found here.

Special thanks to Mom and Dad and Matt and Nat for providing us with so much gear! And Natalie’s parents for our long underwear.



  1. Dad said

    Fantastic pictures and such a memorable trip!

  2. jane said

    Hi Jonathan and Natalie,
    I enjoyed your account of the trek, and the pictures, very much.
    Hope to see you soon,

  3. Grandma said

    So happy you’re back!! The travelogue was extremely interesting and the pictures made me feel like I was almost there. Love to you both.

  4. Nita said

    Great scenery. Paul and Nancy from TN are visiting and were asking about your trip. I just printed the weblog to show them. Grandma will enjoy seeing it too. Thanks for putting this together for all of us!

  5. wade scherrer said

    What a wonderful trip! Great pictures. Looks and sound as though you had some pretty diverse weather to deal with.
    Food looked good too.

  6. Craig Larson said

    Did you drink the Santa Maria Spring water? Sans water purification pills? I would love to see the same views when everything has greened up-or does that happen? Congrats to you both for pulling off this adventure.

    • wellons said

      Yes. But, we treated all the water with our Iodine solution, including Santa Maria spring water. We never got sick!

      I think it’s about as green as it’s going to get in the pictures.

      It was quite an adventure! Now we’re trying to select the next place to go.

  7. Dianne Schmitt said

    Great pictures, great adventure! Thanks for including us.

  8. Mom said

    Loved reading about your adventure! It brought back some good memories of earlier trips there.

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