Keith and I have breakfast at the Maswik and then start the drive to the trailhead. We drop my car off at Grandview Point, where we will exit in a few days. We then continue to the New Hance trailhead in Keith's car. You used to have to park at the Forest Service road a half-mile to the west and walk to the trailhead. However, the Park Service now allows you to park on the south side of the highway a few hundred feet east of the trailhead. That is extremely convenient.
We start out on the level but dusty trail. The dry pond shown in the second picture below was full of water my last time up this trail.
In no time at all, we reach two trail signs. The second sign used to be broken and was in bad shape, so this one is fairly new.
Immediately, Coronado Butte comes into view. It is the dominant feature on the west side of the trail.
After leaving the two trail signs, you better cinch down your pack straps as this baby goes downhill in a hurry. It's like being on the express elevator. After about an hour, we reach a level point where the hiking is considerably easier on your legs and knees.
Mid-April is a nice time to hike in the Canyon. The temperatures are pleasant and many of the flowers are in bloom.
We find lots of the usual desert plants and a pretty blooming Redbud tree.
We walk the level part of the trail to the north to the edge. Just before you start to loop around to the right, we find a flat place that could serve as a campsite in a pinch. It is not as good as I remembered. At the end of the first loop is another campsite where Keith and I camped once. It too is only marginal. We complete the last loop and reach the top of the Redwall. I've always considered this Redwall to be one of the easier ones in the Canyon. At the base of the Redwall is another campsite where I have camped before.
Below the Redwall is a gently sloping meadow you have to cross.
We find more blooming plants.
It's easy to see how Red Canyon got its name with its strikingly red walls. At the far end of the meadow, we descend abruptly to the right, cross a small creek bed, and make our way back to a huge boulder where I camped my first time down this trail. We have lunch on the north side of the rock in the shade.
Then it's easy hiking down the gravel creek bed. I thought I remembered a bypass you had to climb up to, but we never leave the creek bed and only encounter one or two small obstacles.
Hance Rapids is a welcome sight as it means we are near our camping spot. It does not show well in these pictures, but Hance Rapids has all kinds of rocks and boulders in it. On all three of the motorized raft trips I have done down the Colorado River, we either broke a prop or a motor shooting Hance Rapids.
We meet a hiking club trip leader from Friday Harbor High School on San Juan Island in Washington State. His group hiked here from Hance Creek and they are camped at the rapids. None of them has been up the New Hance Trail, so we answer a lot of his questions about it. They have come a long ways to hike.
Keith and I are camping about a quarter-mile or so west of the rapids. Fortunately, our intended spot is unoccupied, so we set up camp. This is a very nice, level spot with a great kitchen area. We are right next to the River, which makes filtering water easy. I give Keith a surprise I brought him, a little 1.5 ounce bottle of cinnamon flavored whiskey.
A large lizard is sunning himself on a rock behind the kitchen.
Tomorrow we are continuing to the west over to Hance Creek.
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