Getting tired of hearing about layover days yet?? We had so many of them on this trip and it was seriously fabulous.
Just this past weekend during our 8.6 mile run Nick and I were reminiscing about GC2017– talking about what, in particular, makes the Grand Canyon so hard. From my perspective, it wasn’t that any one particular thing was extremely hard. it was the day-after-day culmination of all the hard work that, when added up, makes the trip exhausting. Yes, we had several layover days, but I wouldn’t consider a single one of them a “rest day”. Each one involved hiking and adventure– with River Day 15 being the biggest hiking adventure of all.
There is so much to see and do in the Grand Canyon from the river. I imagine we could make the trip every year and still not get to see, do, and experience #allthethings. There’s no way I’m wasting a layover day “resting”. There will be time for rest when we get back to real life.
On River Day 15, most of the team did the Deer Creek-Thunder River-Tapeats Creek loop hike.
Loop hike is a weird way to describe it, as it kinda sorta involves using the river to get to the start.
From Racetrack Camp, part of the group pack-rafted the 2.5-3-ish miles down the river to Deer Creek and the rest of the group hiked down to Deer Creek.
The hike down from Racetrack Camp is mostly marked, but there were sections that were very difficult to follow. Pretty sure Nick and I covered a few sections that we just made up before eventually finding the trail again. Since there is a lot of hiking up, down, and around we knew it would take us much longer than the pack-rafts to arrive at Deer Creek. Since we are really fit and enjoy hiking, Nick thought it was take ~1.5 hours for us to go the 3-ish miles. I thought it would be more like 2.5 hours. Ultimately, it ended up taking 3 hours.
There were parts of this trail that were absolutely glorious.
Nick and I were actually able to run some of the trail! It felt amazing.
But there were other sections that posed some challenge.
We spent 45 minutes trying to get down and around a side canyon. And once we reached the slot that marked Deer Creek we missed the trail marker to get back to the Deer Creek Patio so we took this super sketchy, loose gravel, straight down in the slot route. Not recommended. Several times I had to stop and sit down because I was feeling vertigo. The entre time we were traversing the side canyon to get back to the Deer Creek Patio I always had three points of contact. I was basically on my hands and knees “side-stepping” my way along.
I kept repeating silly things to myself in a sing-songy tone–
“You’re a badass, you’re so strong, look how far you’ve come mentally.”
“Just keep walking, just keep walking.”
“Walk like a human.”
Man, was that an out-of-the-comfort-zone growing experience.
We saw the pack rafts pass us as we were nearing Deer Creek. We were unsure if they would wait since we pre-planned not to wait past a specific time. We were happy to find out that the group was just heading up to the Deer Creek Patio as we were heading down to it!
I was starving when we arrived. It was nice to have a bit of a break to reenergize and enjoy the beauty of the Deer Creek Patio before starting the Deer Creek-Thunder River-Tapeats Creek loop hike.
During the hike we stopped at the Throne Room, crossed Surprise Valley, and spent some time at the Thunder River waterfall.
The last few miles of the hike along Tapeats Creek was probably the most challenging section. Maybe partially due to being tired, but there was so much up and down and the trail was rocky and steep.
The Deer Creek-Thunder River-Tapeats Creek section was ~7.5 miles, so add in the initial 3-ish miles Nick and I hiked to get to the start, and it made for a long day.
Despite how challenging this hike was, it was incredible. We had such perfect weather. Sitting around the camp fire that night I felt the tired sense of accomplishment you feel after pushing yourself physically and mentally.
I am continually amazed by how much my perspective and comfort level changed from GC2015 to GC2017.
River Miles: 0 miles
Camp: Racetrack [mile 134.2]
Water Flow: 11,000 – 16,000 cfs
Temperature: 31 – 56 deg F
Precipitation: 0.00 in
Wind: 1 -5 mph, no gusts
Weather Event: N/A