Thursday, March 29, 2012
After playing in the puddle, we climbed back up to the plateau and crossed over to the south side of the hill. It is necessary to make a traverse through a very brushy area to get to the east end of the hill. So, down and over we went through brush and boulders, balancing on tree logs, and finally arriving on sandstone again.
As we summited, we met the two hikers that had found another way from the first peak.
It was decided that four hikers would descend from the peak on the usual route. The remaining hikers took fate into their hands and took the route with "mucho exposure." Interestingly, it was the crack (or "Yikes moment!) at the bottom that was talked about the most. What exposure?
At this point, five hikers had left the hike for various reasons, so thirteen hikers climbed the nearby sandstone hill to inspect the closed arch. Another exciting climb down sandstone, as seen in the photo below, topped off the day's hike and, finally, it was time to return to the cars.
We found the Turtlehead Trail and followed it all the way back to Sandstone Quarry. After five hours of scrambling 4.5 miles, most of us were ready for a nap!
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
The Grand Canyon from Tuckup Trail at Toroweap.
We started our hike and Pepe shot down the slope as if fired from a cannon. We didn’t see Pepe again until he started back up (of course before any of us had reached the bottom). Paul did his best to follow Pepe but soon lost sight of him. George and I followed Paul with the seven other slower hikers following the two of us. On the way down George kept saying how he thought we were not on the right route down and should be further left on a well-vegetated ridge. Nevertheless, we kept going down a treacherous wash following cairns as we went. Paul made his way to a small knob about two thirds of the way down or 1000 ft above the water. I reached Paul’s position and then George. Over the next hour hikers straggled to the impromptu meeting point. I was apprehensive at this juncture since it was getting hot and it was also almost 12 noon. I had also thrust my foot into a cactus the previous night and my right angle was swollen and sore. We later determined that it was slightly infected. Also, I had neglected to check my water and some had leaked out of my bladder giving me only a liter and a half at that point in the hike.
The rest of the hikers decided to continue. They started down from the meeting point about 1000 ft above the water at around 12:15pm. George had warned everybody that the way down from there was even more dangerous than before. George put me in charge of the small group heading back up from the meeting point. I decided to follow the cairns that were going up where George said the trail should have been. Immediately after we had started up Bill decided to go off on his own. I was worried about Bill. He is a seasoned hiker but he is a septuagenarian. Matt got slower. We were half way up the vegetated ridge when Natalie suddenly fell to the ground and said she was sick and couldn’t continue. Her boy friend Michael rushed up from below and gave her some of his water. Matt joined us and gave us a Mylar emergency blanket which we used as a sun shield for Natalie. I was starting to get very worried. We had at least a 1500 ft, very difficult climb ahead of us with very little water left.