DAY 1 - DOWN THE NEW HANCE TRAIL

November 16, 2019
Bianca Milione

 

Itís a beautiful, sunny, and mild day and itís my first time on the New Hance trail.  Iím excited to try a new trail and Iíve heard several people say that the New Hance is an especially tough one.  We leave Grand Canyon Village around 11 am and find a little pullout to park in near the trailhead.  From the road, the trail is not marked and would be easy to miss.  There is some signage however as you walk out to the rim. 

 

New Hance trailhead at the road

Approaching the rim

New Hance inner trailhead

 

As we start down the trail around noon, it doesnít strike me as particularly steeper or more difficult than the Tanner trail.  Soon though the steps between rocks become bigger and there are a few minor scrambles, so it definitely is more rough as we move through the first half of the descent.  The views of Coronado Butte are spectacular, even though thereís some haze in the air from a fire on the north rim.  

 

   
 

Coronado Butte

 

 

We run into a couple who are hiking out and Dean is wearing his Park Service cap, so they are eager to chat and ask questions.  The woman tells us that she is a mountaineering guide and that all of the trails here at Grand Canyon are ďso easy!Ē  I mention to Dean afterwards that Iíve never heard anyone describe this trail as easy before, and he says heís never heard anyone say that either, after 20 years of working in the park!

 

   
  Sinking Ship  

 

About halfway down, at the top of the Redwall limestone, thereís a traverse of about a half mile.  Thereís some respite from the steep descent here, yet itís one of the more difficult sections on the trail since thereís quite a bit of boulder hopping and scrambling.  Here we run into another couple.  They tell us that theyíre on a day hike that started down Grandview trail, all the way to the river, and theyíre hiking to the rim now.  This itinerary sounds horrendous to me, but they seem to be in ok shape.  At the end of the traverse, we stop for lunch under some pretty juniper trees and enjoy the views before starting on the final descent.

 

We take up the steep trail down again, but soon the intensity starts easing off and weíre able to pick up the pace a little.  Thatís a good thing, because sunset is at 5.20 pm today and weíre well into the afternoon.  The final two miles are relatively flat, as we drop into the bed of Red Canyon, although the last half mile does involve some scrambling over boulders, and avoiding a dry waterfall.

 

Looking up from below the Redwall

Lower portion of the descent

First glimpse of the Colorado River

 

We make it into camp in good time to set up and start dinner before dark.  Itís so peaceful to be at the river with no one around and I love the sound of the rapids churning into the night.  Just before bed, we see some lights from headlamps high above us, and realize that it must be the day hike couple we met earlier approaching the rim.  

 

 

FORWARD TO DAY 2