My first hike on the Grandview Trail took place on August 14, 2008.
As described in my previous post about the New Hance Trail, I took advantage 2008’s temporary shuttle bus system along Desert View Drive to facilitate this day hike.
That most recent hike in the Canyon was a near-disaster, so I toned things down for something less ambitious. Rather than a circumnavigation of Horseshoe Mesa, for example, I simply went out to the end of its west arm. The round trip hike was about 8 miles.
For a brief overview, the Grandview Trail descends 3 steep miles from the South Rim to the U-shaped feature pictured below, called Horseshoe Mesa.
The trail officially ends upon reaching the mesa’s south end, but from here there’s numerous spur trails that lead in all directions. You can continue descending deeper into the Grand Canyon via Redwall Limestone breaks to the east and west. Additionally, spur trails lead to the mesa’s 2 northernmost points, and there’s a 3rd descent through the Redwall Limestone from the mesa’s west arm.
Points of interest abound, including mining relics from the early 1900s and cave systems. The most notable cave is called The Cave of the Domes.
In addition to being reputedly steep, the Grandview Trail is known for its elaborate stair-step and rip rap cobblestone construction. I was initially amazed that these log staircases held up so well over the course of 100 years, since Peter Berry’s crews’ construction.
After repeatedly hiking the trail over more than a decade, I suspect that the National Park Service is mostly to be credited for this, with its efforts in “stabilization” and “revitalization.”
I was lucky to take note of this USGS marker. There’s something to be said for my newcomer’s eyes as I experienced Grandview for the first time, rather than as a routine hike to transport me from point A to point B.
There’s 2 such markers to be found along the trail.
The above photo, I may say, is my first attempt at such a classic close-up shot of an agave cactus. It is the first of many – none of which will ever be symmetrically perfect.
This old mining adit was formerly along the main trail. On this day I took advantage of the shade it provided for a quick rest break.
In the ensuing years, the Park Service did a survey in the area with a Geiger counter, and determined that radiation in this particular area exceeds healthy levels. So the trail was re-routed, and the square half-mile or so that encompasses this and other former adits is now closed to visitation.
For the record, it was copper ore that was mined at Horseshoe Mesa – never uranium.
It was around the same time that these 2 pickaxes seemed to have disappeared. I’d like to think that they were walked out by the Park Service for safekeeping in their history collections, as opposed to being stolen by poachers.
This easy-to-miss marker is another feature that I’m happy to have noticed on this day. There’s some conjecture as to its exact meaning among Grand Canyon historians. In any event, it’s fair to assume that its a a sort of reference number or serial code in designating mining claims.
This is the main structure still standing in the area, the mess hall. Sleeping quarters were constructed of canvas and wood.
I walked right by the unmarked turn-off for the Cave of the Domes as I proceeded toward the west arm of the mesa. I don’t remember if I consciously chose not to go looking for the cave, or if I was still ignorant to the cave’s existence at the time. Probably the latter.
The landscape narrows as it approaches the end of the west arm of Horseshoe Mesa.
It was a hot day in mid-August, and this tree provided some much-needed relief from the sun.
According to the time stamps in my photo files, I took a leisurely 8 hours to complete the hike.
My wife and I spent three days and 2 nights exploring on Horseshoe Mesa. A magical place. We had a full moon and my wife woke the first night swearing she saw an Indian standing about 50 feet from our tent watching us. I put on my headlight and searched all around and found nothing. We were the only ones camped on the mesa that night. I had heard of Grand Canyon ghost stories and I have no reason not to believe that she saw something. The next night I awoke to a tarantula crawling on the outside of the tent roof.
Jamie Compos says
Once out in western Grand Canyon I had a dream that someone was approaching the tent – he looked like a grizzled old miner. I woke in alarm and said “There’s someone out there!” It shook me and spooked the hell out of my girlfriend, because I never have vivid nightmares… especially a nightmare that transgresses into wakefulness.