June 5, 2012

A Father & Son's Journey Out West

Taking off tomorrow night for eleven days in the western states with my father. We're hitting a bunch of National Parks and checking a couple more adventures off the Backpacker Magazine's Best 20 Hikes Ever list, having already bagged the Presidential Traverse last year.

Full itinerary to follow:

  • Day 1: Fly into Vegas and skip the tables for a warm bed at the Nellis Air Force Base BOQ. That's the benefit of traveling with The Colonel.
  • Zion NP - Checkerboard Mesa

  • Days 2-3: Hike Zion National Park and the East Rim Trail.
  • Zion NP

  • Day 4: Break out the water shoes and probing poles to tackle one of the top hikes in the country, going through the Zion Narrows.
  • Zion NP - Narrows

  • Days 5-6: Keep the water shoes handy to hike Buckskin Gulch from Wire Pass trailhead into Paria Canyon, camping overnight in the canyon on a patch of dry land. Then proceed through Paria Canyon from the Buckskin Gulch confluence out the White House trailhead.
  • A dry section of riverbed in Paria Canyon

  • Day 7: Glen Canyon Dam, Lee's Ferry, and North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
  • Lee's Ferry, AZ

  • Days 8-11 (Itinerary Option #1): Depending on the walk-in permits we can get at the trail office, the final three days will follow one of two different options. The first option, which we have confirmed permits and campsites for, is backpacking the Escalante Route in the Grand Canyon, going from the South Rim to the bottom and Tanner Rapids on day 8, along the Colorado River to Hance Rapids on day 9, and back out the South Rim on day 10. I'm planning on carrying my trail running shoes, and if there's a nice section of trail, I will hopefully get in a trail run before coffee some morning. I can't pass up the opportunity to get a quick run along the Colorado River.

    This route, though more difficult and less well-known than the Grand Canyon's rim-to-rim hike in itinerary #2, is among the best hikes in the country according to several publications. This route would give us an additional day in the Canyon, with day 11 being a quick tour of Bryce Canyon NP en route to flying out of Vegas late that evening.
  • This view from the Canyon's rim shows the Escalante Route
    and the winding Colorado River below

  • Days 8-11 (Itinerary Option #2): If we're able to pull a permit for camping at Phantom Ranch, this itinerary will have us hiking the North Kaibab Trail from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to Phantom Ranch at the bottom on day 8, and continue up and out the South Rim on day 9 via the Bright Angel Trail. We'll catch a shuttle all the way back around (six hours!) to our car on the North Rim, tour Bryce Canyon NP on day 10, and then we get day 11 to either hit Death Valley or play around in Vegas before our flight. Similar to the above itinerary, I'm hoping to make time for a quick trail run in the morning, hitting a piece of the popular rim-to-rim trail that runners attempt to bag.
  • North Kaibab Trail

Photos above were snagged from Google Images, but don't worry, I'll no doubt have some of my own when I get back from our epic journey.