Hance Trails Area
The mini-blogs

Various Short Trip Reports

by Dennis Foster

Coronado Butte dominates the view along the New Hance 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.

1981/11/23-24 - The Escalante Route - A Failed Attempt

2004/05/16 - To the rapids and back

2011/10/23 - Atop the Redwall on New Hance


The Escalante Route - A Failed Attempt
Monday-Tuesday, November 23-24, 1981

     While working up at the South Rim for all of 1981, I did quite a bit of hiking.  In November I decided to try and hike the so-called "Escalante Route" which runs between the New Hance Trail (to the west) and the Tanner Trail (to the east).  I think back then there wasn't a name for this route, and it was very little traveled.  I drove my little 100cc motorcycle out to Lipan Point and had someone drop me off at the New Hance trailhead.  All I have from this trip are my recollections, as I didn't keep a journal back then.  And I only took these two photos!  They show some of the remains at Hance Rapids where John Hance had a camp for tourists (and a boat to cross back and forth over the Colorado River).  I found parts of an old iron stove as well as some fencing.  In the years since, I haven't seen anything remaining at this site.  I don't remember the hike down to the river, but it must have taken all day, although the days are short in November.  I don't remember it being especially cold.  I do remember meeting a couple of guys, either this evening or the next morning, that had waded/swam along the section we call the Papago Wall to get to this beach!!  I don't remember what the Papago Slide and Papago Wall were like, but I was young and most of this hiking was well off the beaten path.
     On my second day I had a permit to camp at Tanner Beach, and that seemed like a reasonable objective.  But, along the way I lost the route.  It must have been in the Escalante drainage that I missed the turn back out of the bed and back toward the river (and that is the way I drew it on my map many years ago).  I continued up the bed until I saw a way up into the Bright Angel Shale, beneath the Redwall.  I am sure that it dawned on me that I was off the route, but I had been through the Redwall break north of Cardenas Butte the previous February, and I could see that the shale was forming a slope leading me to that spot.  The slope was sometimes good, sometimes spongy and sometimes frightening.  But, I made it around to the Redwall break, then up to the Cardenas-Escalante saddle and down to the Tanner Trail.  While I had another night on my permit, and I had time to hike down to the beach, I decided to call an end to this trip and so hiked up to Lipan Point, hopped on my motorcycle and drove back to my digs at the South Rim.
     It wasn't until 2013 that I finally did complete the Escalante Route, this time going east to west, and coming out at Grandview instead of New Hance.  I had joined Bill Ferris and his son Matthew on this hike and we had a great time.  I kept my eye out for where I went astray so many years ago, but saw nothing.  I am sure that is because at this time the "route" has really become a very well-defined trail.

To the rapids and back
Sunday, May 16, 2004

     The wildflowers were in full bloom as Erik Drake and I did a day hike down the New Hance trail to the river and back.  I must have taken some notes but they now elude me.  According to the time stamps on my photos, we started down at about 9 a.m. and reached the river at 1 p.m.  We hung around there for a short time before having lunch in the shade of a huge rock (shown below) as I remember it was very hot.  The last photo I have is of Erik up in the Toroweap and it is time stamped as 8:42 p.m.  Since there is still some light (although, clearly after sunset), I'm wondering if my camera wasn't keeping Rez time and we weren't really an hour earlier than the times mentioned?  One of life's many little mysteries.

On the trail with Coronado Butte.

Wildflowers in bloom. 

Indian Paintbrush.

More wildflowers in bloom.

Still more wildflowers in bloom.

Blooming cactus.  

Birds-eye view of growing agave

Erik along the trail. 

Nearing the river.

Blooming cactus.

Hance Rapids.  

Lunch spot

Warped rock layer. 

Atop the Redwall on New Hance
Sunday, October 23, 2011

     With just a few exceptions over the years, a faculty hike is organized that I put together.  All are colleagues of mine from the business college at NAU.  This year we did the New Hance trail, down to the top of the Redwall.  We had lunch there and then returned.
     In attendance for this year's hike were TS & Bev Amer, Jim & Teresa Morgan (only to the top of the Coconino), Paul Wagner, Tom Downen, John Eastwood and me.  We met up in Flagstaff and car pooled to the parking across from the Old Hance trail (having first dropped people and packs at the roadside where the "No Parking" signs are, marking the New Hance trail).  I took a group shot at the trailhead (the sign is to the right), but we were all standing in the shade and it didn't turn out well.
     The trail is easy to follow, even if a bit steep in places.  We were on our way down at 9:35 a.m. and it took us an hour to reach the saddle that leads up to Coronado Butte.  From here you can see Sinking Ship to the west.  At 11:15 a.m. we reached the bottom of the ravine that cuts through the Supai to the top of the Redwall.  We wandered along a bit until we found a nice place for lunch.  At 1:10 p.m. we headed back up, reaching the road at 3:30 p.m.  We drove in, and back, through Desert View, so we stopped at the Cameron Trading Post for dinner on the way home.  Most of us had the Navajo tacos.  Quite delicious, but I hardly ever finish the mini-taco!

A group photo, from the back (l. to r.), are Paul, John, Tom, TS, Bev and
me.  This was our lunch spot
atop the Redwall.  

Looking back on our route/trail. 

Signs of old construction. 

Blooming skyrocket.

Sinking Ship.

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