Grandview Trail Area
The mini-blogs

Various Short Trip Reports

by Dennis Foster

Horseshoe Mesa dominates the view along the Grandview trail.

Click on any picture to see a larger image.

     Writing up a full-fledged trip report for every hike I have done in the Grand Canyon would suffer from at least two problems.  One, there are plenty of trips where not much happened.  This was especially the case for day trips that I took mostly for the purpose of hiking down and back as fast as I could.  Second, it would get repetitive.  How many trip reports do you need to read on hiking to Plateau Point?  Well, just one really.  But, there are usually some interesting features to remark on for every hike, and some unique photos.  So, I will endeavor to fill in this page (and, others) with these short stories and photos.  They are arranged, from top to bottom, in chronological order and linked to the list below.

2012/08/09 - To O'Neill Spring ... Again

2000/08/20 - A Day Hike to Ayer Point


To O'Neill Spring ... Again
Thursday, August 9, 2012

     This past April, I had made two trips to find O'Neill Spring (again) and see if there was any water in its pool.  There was none.  Now, deep into our monsoon season, I decided to make another check to see if this spot might serve as a pothole source of water.  But, despite a lot of rain in the past month, this site was bone dry.  So, if any water does trickle in here, it must disappear into some deeper space.  So it goes.
     I left home at 5 a.m. with a pretty light pack - 18 pounds, which included one gallon of water.  I had two liters frozen to cache at the Coconino saddle and just above the mesa.  That turned out to be a bit of a mistake.  Both bottles retained a lot of ice and I couldn't retrieve the ice cubes for my water bladder!  When they did melt (after I was home) they accounted for 12 ounces.  Since I reached the top with barely 6 ounces in my camelpak bag, in a pinch I would have been sorely tempted to pull out my knife and cut into these containers.  One of my buddies, John Eastwood, takes along frozen water in 2 liter juice bottles and he does cut them open - note to self.
     A bit after 7 a.m. I was on the trail and reached the "junction" with the O'Neill Spring trail at 9:25 a.m.  I put up a cairn here (on the other side of the trail) and proceeded to follow this old route to the spring site.  I had improved the route in April and did some more improvements on this hike.  There are some spots that are obscure and where the footing is a bit sketchy, but I added in enough cairns to stay on the route.  There is at least one cairn someone else left that is not on the route, but I haven't made the effort to climb up and knock it down.  Because I was doing some trail work, I didn't reach the dry spring site for an hour.  I stayed for 40 minutes and started on my way back at 11 a.m., with the temperature rising and a blue sky overhead.
     I reached my water cache above the mesa at 11:50 a.m. and was starting to feel the effects of the heat.  But the icy water tasted great.  I knew that we had a significant chance of rain and was counting on cloud cover.  But, it wasn't looking too good at this time.  So, after 15 minutes I got up and on my way, counting on gaining elevation fast enough to counteract the effects of the heat.  That worked fine, and, in fact the clouds did roll in while I was marching up through the Supai layer.  At the Coconino saddle, which I reached at 1:20 p.m., I laid out on a rock and it got dark and started to rain lightly.  That wasn't as concerning as the thunder, which was noticeable since I left the mesa.
     The thunder got louder and the lightening got closer.  I decided I didn't like my position amidst the tall trees of this saddle, so off I went.  I was hoping to find enough of an overhang in the Coconino to duck out from the storm, but had no luck.  Still the lightening got closer and one strike was so loud and close that I fell to my knees and covered my ears with my hands.  At a switchback ahead of me, two hikers missed getting hit by mere yards.  They backtracked down the trail to where I caught up with them and we waited there for 20-30 minutes while this slow moving storm moved away.  We had light rain off and on all the way to the rim, which we reached at 3:30 p.m.  There, the rain became heavier and more constant.  After making a stop at Buggeln to change into some dry clothes (there were tons of people at Grandview) I got back on my way and reached home at 6 p.m. (by way of Del Taco, naturally!).

A view of the rock cairn I put up
at O'Neill Spring, with the
Coconino saddle in the

A structure near the old cook house. 

Trail as it arrives at the spring. 

The hole above the spring - 16" deep.

The storm obscures Horseshoe Mesa.

Day Hike to Ayer Point
Sunday, August 20, 2000

     There was a time when Coronado Butte was called Ayer Peak.  In George Wharton James' 1903 book, In and Around the Grand Canyon, appears this passage on page 88:

Opposite the Hance Camp the three rock masses on the left of the Canyon down which the Old Trail reached the river have been named the "Three Castles," and the towering mountain to the right has long borne the name Ayer Peak, in honor of Mrs. E. E. Ayer, of Chicago, who was the first white woman to descend the canyon at this point."

     Since then, Mrs. Ayer (her husband ran the lumber mill in Flagstaff) has been demoted to a view point atop the Redwall east of Hance Creek.  I had read of a route up to this point and on this day I was going to try it out as part of a day hike.  My recollection is that my sister, Sue, met me at the trailhead in order to join me on part of the hike to Horseshoe Mesa.  At 5:30 a.m. we were at the Grandview trailhead and on our way.  It was the first light of the day and the skies were clear.  We did not hike together as I needed to cover many miles for this trip.
     At 6 a.m. I reached the saddle below the Coconino and took a 30 minute break.  I had started the hike with three liters of water, two of which were frozen.  I cached one of the frozen bottles here, quite sure that it would have melted by my return.
     At 7:15 a.m. I was on Horseshoe Mesa and cached my other frozen water at the shallow mine.  [Since then the park service has posted a sign warning of radiation danger here!]  At 7:45 a.m. I reached Page Spring on my way down to the Tonto Trail.  I spent 45 minutes here and finished drinking my third bottle of water.  Before leaving I filled up with two liters of water.  I took the opportunity here of putting on sunscreen and calling up Sue on the walkie talkies that I brought along.  She had only come down as far as the saddle below the Coconino and was set to return to the rim.
     At 9 a.m. I was on the Tonto crossing the bed of Hance Creek, where there was a good flow of water.  In my notes I wrote, "Hot in sun!"  After a ten minute break I was on my way.  At 9:45 a.m. I had reached the ravine I needed to ascend in order to get atop the Redwall at Ayer Point.
     Part way up the Redwall, at 9:45 a.m., I was able to get ahold of Sue again - she was already back on the rim and soon to head home.  At 11 a.m. I reached the rim of the Redwall at Ayer Point having already finished off more than a liter of water along the way.  With only three-quarters of a liter of water left, and feeling the effects of the heat, I decided not to stay for long.
     There is an awkward spot in the upper Redwall that has some rocky steps.  Going up was OK, but coming back down I decided to lower my day pack using my shoe laces and hiking pole.  At noon I found a nice shaded overhang just a few minutes before reaching the Tonto Trail.  I ducked in to take a fifteen minute break.  I felt better and while I was down to four ounces of water, I was sure I'd get back to Hance Creek without any problem.
     I reached Hance Creek at 12:55 p.m. and stayed there for two hours to recoup, eat my lunch (pb&j, pudding, apple sauce, snacks), refill my water bottles and douse myself to cool off.  I even napped a bit.
     At 3:35 p.m. I reached Page Spring and made another bottle of water.  After twenty minutes I was on my way.  There were a few clouds rolling in during the afternoon and the off and on shade felt good.  Climbing up to Horseshoe Mesa from the spring was mostly in the shade and that was nice.  At 4:35 I reached my water cache at the mine.  Although I don't remember it now (May of 2021), my notes say that this was actually Kool-Aid.  LOL.  I stayed here for twenty minutes.
     I reached the saddle at 6 p.m.  Picking up this water cache left me "water rich" so I dumped out what I had left from Hance Creek.  [I am quite sure that I had only just treated it with an iodine tablet, as I was wont to do back in those days.]  After fifteen minutes I was on my way.  I had seen the first other day hikers (two of them) while coming up through the Supai and another two in the Coconino.  I took a break part way up the Coconino as my legs started to cramp up.  I reached the rim at 7:15 p.m., seeing a bighorn along the way.
     I was ready to leave by 7:30 p.m., noting that my odometer read exactly 100 miles from where I filled up with gas in Flagstaff that morning.  [I would be 201 when I got home.]  I had 14 ounces of Kool-Aid left and 26 ounces of water.  Taking that into account with the fact that I drank water at my stops, I figured that for the day I drank six liters.  That's a "good" sign that it was a hot day!

Sunrise view of the Watchtower.

Collecting water at Page Spring.

Blooming Datura.

The descent from Horseshoe Mesa.

The view east from atop Ayer Pt.

The view west from atop Ayer Pt.

Wotan & Vishnu from atop Ayer Pt.

Redwall "steps" to Ayer Pt.

Redwall route to Ayer Pt.

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