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Topic: Grand Canyon in December, Tanner-Excalante-Grandview Circuit< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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cfrun02 Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 04 2012, 9:24 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I am planning a 5 night hike that was described in the latest Backpacker mag, the Tanner-Excalante-Grandview Circuit. I got really excited reading about it! Has anyone done it??? I plan on going with my cousin from Dec 23-28. I need some advice on the weather conditions i might see on that route. I am an experienced hiker, but have never hiked through the grand canyon or in really cold conditions. Thanks in advance!!
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High_Sierra_Fan Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 04 2012, 9:37 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

The Grand Canyon backcountry permit process is one place to start:
http://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/backcountry-permit.htm

There are some sections of climbing and "pack hauling" from the description as well as a fair bit of off trail navigation: have you done much rough terrain backpacking over such loose sedimentary rocks? The two vertical miles of elevation gain and loss will also be a factor alongside the shorter days. Those mentioned "narrow scree slopes" will be a test of balance.

Looks like a nice route.
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Eric H Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 04 2012, 10:25 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

It's somewhat edgy for a first GC trip. I've done big chunks of that route, not all.

Top of the Grandview has major exposure, thrilling when the snow is old, black ice. Microspikes, or similar, poles are wise. South rim routes are typically snowy (i.e. a shady north slope) for several miles under the rim. Fresh snow can translate into a winter mountaineering-like experience -- routefinding, breaking trail etc.

What you didn't mention is whether you have related experience -- canyon routefinding, desert water, snow travel etc. That becomes more important simply because of the short days -- gathering water, routefinding in a relatively efficient manner increases in value.

If the L. Colorado is flooding, river water for drinking is a chore.

GC in winter is nirvana and I've done 34 midwinter trips there. It's well worth figuring out, just caution on jumping in the deep end your first visit. Don't take that as discouragement, it's just a place that has a learning curve.
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starwalker Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 05 2012, 1:20 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'm going to be there visiting my son's family about that same time.  I'm not going to do any major hikes, though, just some day-hikes along and maybe down into the Canyon a ways.

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"Straight paths made by man
Are unnatural and full of curses
But a trail is a song."

Louis Oliver (Creek Indian poet)
"Songs on Winding Trails"
in Chasers of the Sun
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cfrun02 Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 05 2012, 9:22 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks for all the great info. Maybe I should do a shorter trip being my first time hiking in that area and with snow. I do have a little route finding background that developed from being in the military a few years ago. I do not have much experience in snow hiking though, so I am thinking a trail with less snow cover may be better for now. How about the Boucher -Hermit Loop? Have any of you done that one?
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 05 2012, 9:55 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

It's pretty unlikely that you'll be hiking in snow.

At the river, December/January average temps are highs in the mid-50's and lows in the mid-30's.  It's also a desert environment, so very little precipitation.  Dec/Jan are actually pretty dry months, averaging well under an inch for each month.

Winter issues, if you have any, will be icy trail conditions at the very upper elevations of the trails, generally the top mile or two.  That said, Tanner and Grandview are somewhat notorious in having rough icy conditions in cold weather.

I've hiked New Hance to Grandview but not the Escalante, but I have a permit for this coming March for an extended version of it, including Beamer, over 8 days.

I've done Boucher-Hermit, as well.  To be honest, I think upper Boucher, above Yuma Point, as it traverses along upper Hermit Canyon would be pretty scary in snow -- and it's high enough to get snow.  Love Boucher as a trail though.  If you do this loop, I'd go *down* Boucher since you can be sure of the conditions the first day.  And go all the way to Boucher Creek camp in one day; camping below Yuma or Whites Butte will be brutally cold in December.

All that said, neither would be typical first hikes in the Canyon.


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Duct tape is like the Force.  It has a light side, a dark side, and it holds the universe together.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 05 2012, 10:32 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

My group did the Escalante Route in 2008.  The Tanner is very steep and rocky and would be treacherous if it was snow covered.  The Grandview is steep but well maintained when we were on it.  The route was mostly marked, we only had a few times where we had to look for the trail.  The water out of the Colorado is super silty, carry a collapsable bucket to let the water sit before you pump.  The other water will taste like crap IMO, bring plenty of powdered drink to mask the taste.  Let me know if other questions.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 05 2012, 11:43 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Maybe consider going down Grandview, then across the Tonto Shelf and up South Kaibab?  You won't see many people until you join the SK trail, and it is much less "remote" as far as route-finding etc.  Or, down Hermit and up Bright Angel.   Or, down Grandview, to the river at Hance Rapids, and then back out?

If you've never been in the Canyon before, you'll be awestruck by just about anything.  I second the advice about Microspikes.  At a minimum, get some sort of traction enhancer for your boots - Microspikes are expensive and heavy, but definitely the "Gold standard".  Don't forget to watch the meteor showers at night!  Also be prepared for very short hours of daylight - this is the thing I had to adjust to.  It gets dark before 5pm toward the solstice......


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"Love many, trust few, and always paddle your own canoe"  author unknown
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 05 2012, 10:04 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

+1 on Grandview to Kaibab. I've done it all the way thru 4 times, major segments as in and outs from either end another half dozen times. Time on the Tonto is where it is at. And not unusual to see no one else until you hit the Kaibab.

FWIW, I much prefer carrying water out to the "points" (directly above the inner gorge) to sleep.

1. Much longer direct sunlight.

2. Warmer air. Cold air cascades down the drainage's in the wee hours. The points' temperature relates to the inner gorge.

3. Awesome broad (and long up and down river) views.

Typical water carries (i.e price of those views) is a mile or two, not that big a deal.
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