It was a nippy 22 degrees in my tent last night at Mather Campground and it snowed 4-6 inches.  Of course, I don't have any crampons, so the initial descent today should be exciting.  We meet at Lipan Point at 8:00, but decide to wait until around 9:30 to start down to allow the ice to melt some.  The snow line continues well into the inner Canyon.

Marsha, Art, and Richard
3-30-2007 @ 9:32
Art at the trailhead
3-30-2007 @ 9:41
Looking down the trail
3-30-2007 @ 9:48

     We are glad that someone else started down before we did.  The trail would be difficult to find in all this snow if you were the first person down.  It is a little slippery in places and the going is slow.  There are numerous switchbacks to deal with the rapid descent.  The further we proceed the more the view back to the trailhead shows just how vertical the initial descent is.

View up to the trailhead
3-30-2007 @ 10:58
View up to the trailhead
3-30-2007 @ 11:32
View up to the trailhead
3-30-2007 @ 12:36

     Art and I have a much faster downhill pace than Marsha and we soon leave her far behind.  As we reach Stegosaurus rock, aptly named when viewed from the side for the vertical, fin-like rocks on top, we miss a cairn and walk across the tops of the rocks expecting to reach the other side of the drainage that way.  Oops, we realize our mistake when we reach the large drop-off at the north end.  A little backtracking and we take the correct route down the east side.  We meet two men about our age who are doing almost the same hike we are.  We are near Escalante Butte and it's noon, so we stop for lunch just below Stegosaurus rock.

Escalante Butte
3-30-2007 @ 11:37
On top Stegosaurus Rock
3-30-2007 @ 11:42
View below Stegosaurus Rock
3-30-2007 @ 12:34

     The Desert View Watchtower is now in view.  It's easy to see why Mary Jane Colter selected this location for her tower.  It has a magnificent view to the north and down the Tanner Trail into the inner Canyon.

Desert View Watchtower
Wide angle
3-30-2007 @ 12:49
Desert View Watchtower
Partial zoom
3-30-2007 @ 12:49
Desert View Watchtower
Full zoom
3-30-2007 @ 12:50

     The trail continues its descent and then begins a large loop to the west that passes near Cardenas Butte.  We go by a small patch of cryptobiotic soil that you should avoid walking on.  This section is basically a long, relatively flat stretch that is significantly easier than the upper section.

Cardenas Butte
3-30-2007 @ 1:02
Cryptobiotic soil
3-30-2007 @ 1:27

     We see more plant life the lower we get and I soon find my first Indian Paintbrush.

3-30-2007 @ 1:40
Indian Paintbrush
3-30-2007 @ 2.28

     When we finish the large loop, we are approaching the top of the Redwall and our campsite.  The two men we met back there camp on the south side of the clearing while we go a little farther and camp right on the edge of the Redwall with fantastic views of the river.

Campsite above Redwall
3-30-2007 @ 3:03
Campsite above Redwall
3-30-2007 @ 3:04
River view from the Redwall
3-30-2007 @ 3:48

     Marsha arrives in a few hours and explains she was having all sorts of leg cramps that really slowed her down.  Hopefully that won't interfere with the remainder of our trip.  We are all pretty tired, so after supper, it's bedtime for us.


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