On July 8th of 2008 – my first season at the Grand Canyon – I went on a day hike on the Tonto Trail between the South Kaibab and Bright Angel Trails, with a side trip to see Plateau Point.
The Tonto loop from the South Rim is about 13 miles. The extra trip to Plateau Point brought it up to about 16.
I started this hike with Jamie E at around noon.
Such a late start in mid-summer is ill advised.
It was sort of a last minute decision that day to do the hike – a perfect example of how I thought I had just one season to experience the Grand Canyon, and consequently, often pushed through the summer heat in a manner that was just plain dumb.
I drank almost 2 gallons of water throughout this hike, and still felt somewhat affected by the heat. Jamie was affected even more. She was sick on the upper Bright Angel Trail as we crawled up in the dark. The next day she was sent home from work at Maswick, and advised to visit the clinic.
On the way down the South Kaibab Trail, a PSAR ranger (preventative search and rescue) stationed at Cedar Ridge tried to talk us out of continuing – but we didn’t heed the warning.
Years later now as I revisit the photos, I appreciate what a unique experience it was to experience the Tonto Trail at this particular hour, in the doldrums of summer.
It was my first experience on the Tonto Trail – I loved its open nature and constant, expansive views of the world below the rim.
The spur trail to Plateau Point was a highlight. The late evening cast a wonderful light throughout the Canyon as I strove to reach the overlook before sunset. The blasted afternoon hours had calmed into a picturesque light, with a slight breeze.
Jamie stayed behind at Indian Garden, wise for the opportunity to rest before the heat-exhausted night-hike up the Bright Angel Trail.
I was happy to experience the Tonto Trail, and a sunset at Plateau Point.
Most of all, this day as served as an early warning to the risks of hiking the Canyon in mid summer. The true danger wouldn’t truly register until a few weeks later, when I opted to day hike the New Hance Trail in early August.