DAY 1 - WALDRON TRAIL TO HERMIT CREEK

April 24, 2020
Bianca Milione

 

Dean and I leave Grand Canyon Village at 7 AM for our three night trip.  We are going down the Waldron and Hermit Trails to Hermit Creek for one night, over to Boucher Creek for two nights, and then out the Boucher Trail the next day.  This is actually a work patrol for Dean, one of the Park Rangers, with whom Iím fortunately able to tag along!  We take the pleasant drive through the forest on the old boundary road to a locked gate and park the car.  Dean tells me that years ago the Park Service used to let you drive all the way to the Waldron trailhead.  Grand Canyon National Park is closed to the public due to coronavirus concerns, so there is no one else to be seen.

 

 


A locked gate

 


We set off hiking at 7.45 AM after Dean makes a call to Park dispatch.  It is less than a mile from the parking area and locked gate until we reach the actual trailhead.

 

 

 
 

The Waldron trailhead

 

 

Then the trail begins a very easy walk through the forest on the rim passing a bone dry Horse Thief Tank before we begin descending.  As far as Grand Canyon hiking goes, descending the Waldron Trail is very moderate.  There is plenty of shade and the grade is not too steep.  We reach the junction with the Hermit Trail at 9 AM and stop for a break, enjoying all the pretty spring flowers.

 

Spring flowers

Agaves starting to form flower stalks

Beautiful Cliff Rose


We continue on the Hermit Trail past Santa Maria Spring, and descending further, we pass some Red Bud Trees in bloom. The Hermit trail is well constructed and maintained, and in my limited experience, it is one of the easiest trails down into the Canyon.
 

   
 

Flowering Red Bud Tree
 

 

Bianca on the Hermit Trail
 

Sage in bloom
 

Dean ahead of me on the Hermit Trail
 

Mohave Daisy
 

Century Plant and magnificent views
 

Brittle Bush and Globe Mallow
 

We pass Lookout Point, Breezy Point, descend the Cathedral Stairs, and make our way down the steep section by Cope Butte.  As we reach the Tonto platform, itís turning into a very hot day.  We stop in the shade of a large boulder not far from Hermit Creek for another break around noon.  We see some cute hummingbirds hovering around the Globe Mallows.

 

More flowers and views on the Tonto

A break just before Hermit Creek

Small waterfall near Hermit Creek

 

Dean is photographing the trail signs for work, as the Park Service is considering replacing all of them.  We stop for a few moments at the turn off to Granite Rapids to photograph the sign, and shortly after arrive at Hermit Creek.  Itís still early in the afternoon and itís hot.  I feel very fortunate to stay here during the park closure and have the place completely to ourselves.  To be honest, it would be tricky with many people around as there is so little shade.  We set up camp under the one overhang in the campground to have lunch and rest for a while.  We spend the rest of the afternoon cooling off and relaxing by a large pool in the creek. 

 

Our overhang camp spot One of the many frogs we see

 

Around dusk, some tiny bats start flitting by very close to us as we settle in under the overhang.  We sleep out under the stars, enjoying the interesting silhouettes of the Canyon against the night sky.

 

   
 

The evening view from my sleeping pad

 


 

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