I am up early at my Mather campsite, pack my tent and gear, and pick up Keith at the Bright Angle Lodge at 6:15.  We drive over to the Maswik for breakfast and then call the park taxi service at 7:00 for a cab to Lipan Point.  We are told that they probably can't get to us until around 10:00.  Well, that's just great!!!  There's nothing quite like cooling your heels for three hours in the lobby of the Bright Angel Lodge.  We spend the time talking to a group of ladies who are getting ready to go down the South Kaibab for their first Canyon hike.  Fortunately for us, the taxi arrives around 8:30, so we can't complain too much.  I park my car at the Forest Service road a half-mile west of the New Hance highway trailhead and we continue in the taxi to Lipan Point.  After a $50 payment to the taxi driver, we start down.  There is a lot of snow right away, so Keith and I break out the Microspikes.

Keith at the trailhead
3-31-2010 @ 9:31
Time to put on Microspikes
3-31-2010 @ 9:39
Microspikes going on
3-31-2010 @ 9:39

     The snow is quite deep and we learn first hand the meaning of the term, "post-holing," which is where your feet occasionally punch all the way through the soft snow up to your knee or thigh.  It would be easy to break an ankle or leg doing this.  Our Microspikes help out immensely when we don't poke through the surface of the snow.

Deep snow
3-31-2010 @ 9:45
Keith sinking in snow
3-31-2010 @ 10:06

     The going in the deep snow is very slow and tedious, requiring us to keep our Microspikes on until just above Stegosaurus Rock.  When viewed from the back side, it's easy to see how the rock got its name with its vertical fin-like rocks on top resembling a prehistoric dinosaur.

Nearly to Stegosaurus Rock
3-31-2010 @ 11:09
Stegosaurus Rock
3-31-2010 @ 11:54

     The farther you are down the trail the more the view back toward the trailhead reveals just how steep and nearly vertical the upper part of the trail is.  It doesn't seem that steep when you are going down it.

View back to the trailhead
3-31-2010 @ 11:21
View back to the trailhead
3-31-2010 @ 1:25

     The Desert View Watchtower soon comes into view.  Mary Jane Colter picked a great spot for the tower with its magnificent views looking down Tanner Canyon.

Desert View Watchtower
Wide angle lens
3-31-2010 @ 12:05
Desert View Watchtower
Partial zoom
3-31-2010 @ 12:06
Desert View Watchtower
Full zoom
3-31-2010 @ 12:06

     We pass Escalante Butte and soon start the loop that goes around by Cardenas Butte. 

Escalante Butte
3-31-2010 @ 11:23
Cardenas Butte
3-31-2010 @ 12:13

     There aren't a lot of blooming flowers, but that is to be expected this early in the year.  We do find a few at the lower elevations.

3-31-2010 @ 12:18
Small-flowered Milkvetch
3-31-2010 @ 1:15
Desert Phlox
3-31-2010 @ 1:41
Indian Paintbrush
3-31-2010 @ 2:33
Common Fiddleneck
3-31-2010 @ 2:41

     Keith and I reach the top of the Redwall just before 2:00.  The views of the River from here are really astounding, so this makes a great spot to camp.  We camped here on a prior hike, but decide to descend the Redwall and then make camp at its base.

Redwall campsite
3-31-2010 @ 1:57
River view from the Redwall
3-31-2010 @ 1:59

     It takes about a half-hour to reach the bottom of the Redwall.  We are both tired and decide to set up camp here.  The wind has really been picking up, so this will be a good test for my new Rainbow Tarptent.  There is rain in the forecast, so I put a waterproof pack cover over my pack and leave it outside my tent. 

  Our first night campsite
3-31-2010 @ 5:21

     After cooking supper in my tent, I head to bed.  Our plan for tomorrow is to camp at Cardenas Creek.    


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