May 24, 2010
I hiked the Nankoweap Trail for the first time in May of 2010.
The trip was my friend Donnie’s idea, and he invited our friend Timmy as well. We all worked at the El Tovar together, and managed to get 5 days off to make it happen.
I have hundreds of photos from the hike, so I divided it into 6 separate posts.
This 2nd entry documents the walk from the park boundary to Tilted Mesa – essentially just the second half of Day One. We spent the first part of the day traveling to the upper trailhead and hiking through the National Forest to the place where the trail descends into the Canyon.
The trail immediately went down some steep, tight switchbacks with some big steps.
But not for long.
Soon it began to work its long contour through the Supai layer, where I was impressed by the height of the red cliffs.
The trail’s notorious exposure soon presented itself.
The path’s surface remained fairly good, and there were often “landing zones” immediately below. So a fall wouldn’t necessarily have huge consequences.
I think it overall felt more comfortable than some parts of the Beamer Trail.
We anticipated an encounter with the singular “scary spot” around each corner, but there was never one specific area that acted as the clear winner. If you twisted my arm, though, I’d say it’s in a place located beyond Marion Point.
Despite working a contour that trends downhill, there’s a lot of undulations that require energy. The path goes up and down and around obstacles, picking its way through the shelves of many small cliffs.
Marion Point is the first major landmark through the area, where a long ridge extends out into the Canyon, dividing the upper arms of Nankoweap Creek.
We took a good long rest here and hid some of the extra water we brought for the return trip.
Everything was going great, and Donnie was in a happy place!
The trail had little to no change in character beyond Marion Point.
Finally we turned away from the upper cliffs and began to descend toward Tilted Mesa.
Similar to Marion Point, Tilted Mesa is a long ridge that divides some upper arms of the canyons. The difference is that the trail follows Tilted Mesa out to a place where it’s possible to eventually descend deeper into the Canyon.
This was our destination for the night. The ridge presented several possible campsites. When we saw that the trail sharply descended again (requiring the assistance of a tree), we backtracked to the level area above and called it a day.
The full moon would be the day after tomorrow.
And yes, I apparently still liked to carry a bear canister for rodent protection!