Hermit Rapids to Monument Creek
Distance 8 km, 660 m elevation gain, 470 m elevation loss, 4 hrs 20 min
It was a slightly challenging night’s sleep. Sharing a duvet (the one sleeping bag we purchased) was not as easy as it sounded. Emily and I both sleep at different temperatures. I was comfy at the beginning of the night and overheating after a few hours, whereas Emily started cold and finished at a comfortable temperature. After sleeping on inflatable mattresses, we both found the hard pads uncomfortable. Sleeping was a struggle for the entire trip, but we did the best we could, given the circumstances.
We woke up at 7am. This was to be a short day, just 8km, so we did not rush to get out of camp. Breakfast was oatmeal, dried fruit, plus some fresh fruit we had purchased and instant coffee. Just love banana chips in the hot oatmeal.
We were a little tired and stiff from the big elevation loss the day before, but I soon realized that my ankles had taken a real beating. My hiking boots irritate the front of my ankles and I’m able to relieve the pressure by simply applying medical tape across my ankles. The medical tape had been lost in the equipment bag that never made it, so I had taped my ankles with duct tape. Duct tape is good for many applications, but comes off quickly when you sweat. I was left with redness and abrasions where the duct tape had rubbed away the skin. This meant that for the rest of the trip I was not able to tie my boots all the way up; luckily I have good ankle strength, so the lack of support was not an issue.
After breakfast, we explored the area a bit more before heading up the trail. It took us about 1hr 40min to break camp, but we were not in a rush. It was a fun walk back up the canyon.
It was a fun walk back up the canyon. I enjoyed looking at the rocks, and seeing where the contact was between the schist and the sandstone layers.
It took about 1hr 20min to get to the junction with the trail that led us back to the Tonto (the one with the wall). After taking photos, I made a big mistake, continuing up the stream. Emily had left a few moments earlier, heading up the cliff. I was very confused why I could not see Emily up the stream. I could not understand how she had gotten so far in front of me. Of course, she hadn’t, she had gone up. This was a very confusing time for both of us. I was calling out to Emily. The real kicker was it could have been avoided had I used the whistle that I had purchased (we each had a whistle attached to our packs). This little episode was a source of a lot of stress that so easily could have been avoided. One benefit was that I found Hermit Creek Campground, so once Emily and I reunited, we walked up the creek to check out the campground.
It took us about 2.5hrs to get to the Tonto Trail, and another 20min to get to the junction of the Tonto and Hermit trails (where we had come down yesterday). Now heading east, this was all new trail for us.
From the junction it was only 3.5km to Monument Creek. We had a slight rise of 140m as we traversed around Cope Butte. The trail was smooth and well graded. The trail runs along a very steep cliff, but it is quite a few feet away from the edge, so there is little exposure. Going around the tip of Cope Butte jutted us out into the inner canyon, and gave us amazing views back to Hermit Rapids where we had camped the night before.
Getting to the other side of Cope Butte meant that we leaving Hermit Canyon. It took just under an hour to get to the beginning of the descent to Monument Creek. We decided that this would be a good place for lunch; it had been about 3.5hrs since we left camp.
While the path down to the bottom of Monument Canyon looked a little daunting, the trail was well graded and there was little exposure to the cliff. It took less than 20min to get to the campsite.
This was the hottest day of the trip. Emily cooled off by bathing in the stream. We took to exploring the campsite. The composting toilet was actually quite intriguing. Some other people who had come to the campsite ventured down the canyon to the visit the river. Emily and I discussed the idea, but it looked a little steep in places, and we did not have any rope. Plus we were tired and had been to the river the day before. If I hike this section of trail again, I would investigate how to access the river from Monument Campground. At this time it was a great unknown. The geology fan in me was happy that the canyon was deep enough to have exposures of the Vishnu Schist just a short hike downstream.
Emily did a great job of rehydrating a very delicious dinner. My knee had improved somewhat, it was looking good to finish the hike, something that I had been worried about. There are only five campsites at Monument Campground, and they were all full. It was a very nice group; we chatted with a few of the campers, but for the most part, they kept to themselves.
I woke up at about 11pm to take night photos of the sky. While the Grand Canyon has very little light pollution, the sky seemed unusually bright and it did not provide any interesting pictures. But it was very pleasant to wander around in the quiet and stillness of the night.