October 19, 2013
We wake to boy scouts packing up at 4AM and drift back to sleep knowing that we have plenty of time to make the big ascent.
By 7:30 we are on the Tonto trail in the early morning light. In the canyon the light changes every moment, creating yet another photo op. I try to limit the number of stops, but am still blown away by the majesty of the landscape.
We climb steadily without too much difficulty. Our packs are pounds lighter with just turkey jerky and trail mix left in the food sack.
The trail is shaded and cool until we hit the noon sun just below the Santa Maria Spring. Here we picnic on a slab overlooking the creek where we have been camping for the last two days.
Unlike the past days on the trail, seeing only the occasional hiker, we begin to see day hikers at around 10AM. By early afternoon a steady stream are descending, taking advantage of a gorgeous Saturday in October.
The last couple of miles are steep and in full sun. Still, the 3 liters of water we started with at Hermit Creek was sufficient to keep us hydrated for the final slog to the top.
We reach the rim at around 2PM, tired but not worn out. On the short drive back to the rim hotel I’m already plotting the next trip into the Canyon.
The 8.3 mile hike from the Hermit Creek Campground (elevation 2900ft) to the rim at Hermits Rest (elevation 6700ft) took us about 6 and half hours including stops for lunch and photos. Total ascent 4393ft. Total descent 552ft.