After living in Arizona for over 30 years, one would think I have hiked the Grand Canyon at least once. As it may be, not true. I’ve been one of the millions of onlookers from above and that is all. Our original goal was to take the little guy and go on a backpacking trip over fall break, however some five months ago that wishful thought was denied as there were over 2,400 plus backcountry permit applications for the month of October. Luckily we did get a permit for November and that trip will be 7 days just minus the little guy.
With that said, how could we get the little guy and myself to experience the Grand Canyon? My Father-in-Law had the perfect answer: A Day Hike! He has been hiking the Grand Canyon for years now with his buddies, so we knew we would be in good hands! We left the Bright Angel Trailhead at 10:30am and took off to our destination of Plateau Point. We made stops at Rest House 1 and Rest House 2. Scoped out possible camp sites for the following month when we arrived at Indian Garden. Then headed out to Plateau Point for a late lunch and then the turn around back to the top. It was 8:09PM by the time we returned to the Bright Angel Trailhead and a brisk 36 degrees. A total of 12.3 miles and almost 10 hours of hiking with an AEG of 3,356 ft. It was an experience like no other. Words cannot express the magnitude of the Grand Canyon. I was in complete awe the entire time down and back up.
Enjoy the photo gallery, no particular order or reason. It’s just the Grand Canyon and whatever a camera could capture.
An adventure I’ll soon never forget. I had it all planned. 7am drop off at the Lost Dutchman State Park. Hike up the Siphon Draw Trail #53 to Flatiron. Hop on over to Superstition Peak 5024 and camp out along the Superstition Ridgeline Trail to Three Sisters and bag 5057. Then head on out to the Carney Springs Trail Head. Sounds like an amazing experience, am I right!? Only one thing…I’m a novice and that’s where my new adventure begins.
I loaded my pack (45lbs to be exact) and thought this would be a great prep hike for my upcoming 7 day Grand Canyon backpacking trip. I had everything I would need. 7 liters of water. Food/Snacks for 2 days. Tent, sleeping bag, hiking poles, stove, water filter, back up clothing, maps, GPS/phone, compass, solar, headlamp, first aid, and then some. Anything I could possibly need and honestly I’m glad I had it all!
Sunrise over the Superstition Mountains
No matter where you are in the valley, when you look to the east the Superstition Mountains are there. Specifically the Flatiron portion stands out as the most prominent. It is definitely one of the Valley’s more sought after hiking venues.
Siphon Draw Trail 53
The path into Siphon Draw. Looks simple enough!
Enter into the Superstition Wilderness, part of the Tonto National Forest.
Sunrise over Siphon Draw
Hiking into the Siphon Draw Trail is an experience. Especially when there are hardly any other hikers on the trail. Simply put, awestruck.
Sunrise on Flatiron
As the morning sky began to brighten the path along Siphon Draw so did my overall experience. This was going to be an amazing adventure!
Slick rock heading into the basin. I could only imagine what it’s like when wet. It’s bad enough dry and I surely would not want to be in here when a thunderstorm hits!
Siphon Draw Hike
More slick rock and a good vertical climb! Doing a zigzag up seemed to help.
Siphon Draw Trail
Once you pass the basin/waterfall climb, the view of the canyon going up is simply breathless.
A view of some hoodoos across the way.
The Wall at Siphon Draw Trail
Not exactly “the wall” just yet, but once you climb these the 12′ wall you must climb to get to the trail over to Flatiron awaits. Carrying a 45lb pack was brutal coming up to this point. Not something I took into consideration. When you get to the wall, if you need to, use the left side to pull yourself up. That’s what I had to do.
View from Siphon Draw Trail
The view that waits above, “the wall”.
View of the Valley from Flatiron Summit
Once you get out to Flatiron, this is the view of the valley that awaits. It is seriously impressive. This was a clear day. I could see the White Tanks to the West (Cardinal Stadium), Mt. Lemon to the south and I have no idea how far to the north. I was hoping to see the Peaks but I hear that’s only possible from on top of Brown’s Peak.
Superstition Peak 5024
To the left is Superstition Peak 5024, not to be bagged by me on this trip.
Four Peaks View from Siphon Draw
The view to the north, Four Peaks and a whole lot more!
East Valley View
Of course a selfie, because it didn’t happen if you didn’t take a photo of yourself up there, right? Despite the smile, I was hurting pretty bad by this time. You can see the trail below me to the right. Not to forget, I LOVE this hat!
Just a favorite view of mine. Clouds, blue skies and the hoodoos.
360 degree view from Flatiron
Tried to capture a 360 view from the tip of Flatiron.
Siphon Draw Trail Track
My track. I didn’t zoom in enough to where you could see the back track I did while coming up the trail. I did take a wrong turn, briefly. Not a good idea.
Merrell shoes and my new best friend
A view of the east valley and my new best friend. This little character came right up next to me. Friendly little creature. And of course my Merrell shoes which took a harsh beating later on.
Osprey Aether AG 70L Pack
My Osprey bag, love that thing! And of course being on top of Flatiron is a great place to get a quick charge on solar.
A zoomed in view over towards Three Sisters. Again, not to be had by me on this trip.
Superstition Peak 5024
My dinner view. I wanted to bag 5024 but I was hurting and decisions needed to be made. Always side with common sense, not your pride. It’ll save your life.
My other dinner view, Flatiron.
Jet Boil and Mary Janes Farm
Yes, I did get to try out my new Jet Boil and Mary Janes Farm Lentils, Rice and Indian Spice! YUM! I needed this!
Tragedy at Superstition Mountain
In 2011 there was a plane crash in the Superstitions. Six people died that night.
Setting Sun on Superstition Mountains
The smartest decision I could make. I could not make heads or tails of the Superstition Ridgeline Trail. Perhaps it was my inexperience, exhaustion or both but I decided the safest thing to do was to head back down Siphon Draw and race the setting sun.
A long century plant in the mountains.
Flatiron at Sunset
As I stated above, I’m a novice and this trip did not turn out how I had originally planned. Knowing when to fold your cards and call it quits is the smartest thing anyone can do when hiking/backpacking. Watching the setting sun against the Superstitions is just as beautiful as watching the sun rise.
Sunset from Flatiron
As this adventure comes to an end you can tell I did not make it down during daylight. Before the sun set, I reached for my headlamp and prepared for a night hike (bouldering/scrambling). It was not fun. Legs and back were killing me. 7 liters of water were down to about 1 liter which eventually became empty. Climbing down in the dark is not fun. Not an adventure I liked or wanted, but definitely worth the overall experience and knowledge. Eventually I reached the basin and I saw the moon rising behind me. All that did was remind me that this trip was one I’ll never forget. My headlamp and hiking poles were my new best friends after the basin. I heard and saw some cool critters on my way down. The best part of the journey was arriving back at the Lost Dutchman State Park and having some headlight high beams flash at me. My awesome wife and son had just pulled in as I was wobbling out. I am entirely grateful to them as they were tracking me coming down the draw. I’m one lucky guy!
Would you say Flatiron via Siphon Draw is the toughest hike in the Valley? Leave your thoughts below.
Time to gear up for my next adventure! See you on the trail!