Well, the two newbies, Stan and Johnna, took a shake down trip to test camping equipment and susceptibility to extreme agitation brought on by exposure to the great out of doors. We made our big trip to Toroweap Arizona on May 27th and 28th, 2010.
Our first task was loading the transport. I'm calling this a four pack mule load. Why does it take this much stuff for two people to camp for a couple of days? I've diligently gone through everything I require and haven't found even one nonessential; Johnna looked at her stuff and couldn't find anything to dump either. So, overloaded or not, off we went.
Our first major stop was the Mount Trumball school house.
I really like these old school houses. The original was destroyed by vandals and this is the rebuilt replica.
Before leaving the Mount Trumball area, we visited Nampaweap, a rock art site. It's reportedly one of the largest in Arizona.
Just a pile of basalt strewn up a short canyon.
Until you get closer. The pictographs are etched on basalt and not very deep. But they have survived much better than some rock art found in sand stone sites. I didn't find signs of vandalism or gun shot damage, which I sometimes see. Most of the rock art sites we visit are well maintained and respected for their historical impotence. Rock art is intriguing and creates an endless source of glyphs to speculate about. There must be many more pictographs buried in this pile.
A few yards East of our camp site in Toroweap. What a long day; our drive from Dammeron Valley was about 100 miles and took over six hours. In researching the trip I read several times that the last mile to Toroweap Point was a rough, rock strewn, washed out road. In reality, I think it was more like the last three miles.
As the sun was going down I took a short walk to the canyon rim.
And back to the camp site.
After nine PM, and we're all settled in, relaxed and fighting off the last of the cedar mites; they seem to go to bed after sun down. This was our second attempt at popping up the pop up tent. On both occasions in gusting winds that threatened to carry us away. At least the first camping spot was on soft ground where I could drive stakes and attach guy wires; the Toroweap camp ground is on solid rock. Finally, I found enough heavy rocks to use as anchors. After I managed to place several guy wires, the tent held up to some pretty strong winds that blew during the night.
The next morning, after breaking camp and loading up we walked down to Toroweap point. I wasn't too satisfied with the usual photo taking spot and walked back up the canyon rim for a different view point. As this image shows, you can hike the rim to you're hart's content and find a compelling view around every bend. The Grand Canyon, as has been noted many times, is more than just a deep gash in the earths crust.
Same spot, a few feet East. I was tempted to park myself under a shady tree for the rest of the day, admire the canyon walls as they changed color, and watch for rafters coming down river.
Here were two, working their way through some rough water. From the canyon rim, the river appears to be a smallish stream but these boats provide some perspective. I thought they were the smaller, 18 foot long, oar boats rather than the 35 by 15 foot motorized behemoths. I'm not at all sure though, they do appear to be motor driven. It is a long way down and this photo was taken with a 200mm lens.
Johnna and I are thinking seriously about a two week trip next year in April or May.
From Toroweap our plan called for camping over night at SB point, and then on to Kanab Point for another night. SB Point is about twenty miles East as the crow flies, but considerably longer over the twisty roads needed to drive there.
So ... wouldn't you know, we couldn't find the right road to SB Point and decided on Kanab Point instead. And you won't be surprised to learn that we got lost some more and drove all over the place for a couple of hours before calling it a day. We went back to Pipe Springs, about 40 miles, thinking we would camp there for the night and try again the next morning. The wind was howling in Pipe Springs, gusting thirty miles per hour at least, and the camp ground didn't seem to have tent sites. Disgusted with the wind, and not wanting to fight the tent again, we ended our outing and headed back to Dammeron Valley.
This trip, as I've noted, was Thursday and Friday, May the 27th and 28th. The following week, June the 4th and 5th we went back and managed to find SB and Kanab points, camping over night at each spot. We still got lost at least once each day. There are dirt roads crossing every which way and even with BLM maps it's easy to make a wrong turn. We have two GPS devices but neither displays a map of the area. The Garmin Street Pilot did give us lat-long data, which helped us orient ourselves on the paper map.
If you make the trip, and it's worth it, be sure to find some one that's been there. And you do need camping permits. The BLM office in St. George or Pipe Springs has an arrangement with the Grand Canyon National Park Service to provide immediate, or same day, backcountry permits. I think there's one ranger for the entire North rim and it's unlikely he would catch you camping with out an over night permit. But if he did, and decided to give you a citation, it definitely would be pain in the ass you wouldn't want to endure. If you know for sure when you'll need the permit, one can be obtained over the internet.
Of course, a few days after we got back, a backcountry permit arrived in the mail. There was a problem; it was for Tuckup Point, a few miles up the canyon from Toroweap, and stated that the road was closed anyway. I think I'll get my permit from the BLM if we ever need one again.
I couldn't leave Toroweap without taking the usual photo.
The light wasn't to my liking; the photo was taken at about 10 AM. And I've seen much better images from this point. I do wonder though, how long that little pile of rocks will stay perched on the ledge and how long has it been balanced?