The Grandview Trail, 2003
Grand Canyon National Park

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In May, 2003, we revisited the Grandview Trail to explore a section of the Tonto Trail below Horseshoe Mesa. This was our second trip together down the Grandview, the first being nearly 3 years earlier (see Grandview, 2000). For this hike, we intended to explore a little farther down into the Canyon to the Tonto Platform below Horseshoe Mesa. The weather forecast had sounded less than favorable, but we crossed our fingers and went anyway. In the end, the variable weather would be one of the surprise highlights of the trip.

We drove up from Phoenix on Friday evening and spent the night at Yavapai Lodge. The following morning, we drove out to the Grandview Trailhead and started down the trail at 8:00am. Although the forecast had called for increasing clouds and a chance of rain, the day started out clear with brilliant sunshine. Within 1-1/2 hours, we had descended the 3 miles to Horseshoe Mesa and paused for a snack break in the warm sun. It was a magnificent day and we enjoyed the superb views into the spectacular Grand Canyon.

Down the Grandview
Down the Grandview
Horseshoe Mesa
Arrive at Horseshoe Mesa
Snack Break
Snack Break with a View

After the short break, we dove off the east side of Horseshoe Mesa on a steep trail that descended through a side canyon to the Tonto Platform, a thousand feet below the mesa. Along the way, we passed by Page Springs and took the short side trail to check it out. Page Springs flows year around and provides a reliable water source for Canyon travellers. After a few minutes at the spring, we continued downward to the intersection with the Tonto Trail in Hance Canyon. The steep, sometimes torturous descent was now behind us. At an elevation of 3800' on the Tonto, it was warm and pleasant. The bright blue sky was slowing filling with clouds, which provided occasional shade and added to the comfort.

East Side
Off the East Side
Page Springs Junction
Page Springs Jct.
Page Springs
Page Springs

This descent from Horseshoe Mesa to the Tonto is labelled on some maps as an extension of the Grandview Trail. Like the Grandview, it was steep and punishing and left both of us footweary by the time it was over. Fortunately, we were now faced with a few miles of easy strolling along the meandering Tonto Trail as we worked our way westward to the "middle trail" leading back up to Horseshoe Mesa. There are actually 3 trails that descend from Horseshoe Mesa to the Tonto, and the middle trail is the easiest of the three. That is the trail that we chose to ascend on.

After the Descent
After the Descent
Hance Canyon
Dave and Hance Canyon
Center Trail
Climbing the Center Trail

After 1:15 hours of pleasant walking along the Tonto Trail, we reached the middle trail and began climbing. Within 40 minutes we topped out on Horseshoe Mesa and were back on level ground. Just in time too, as the first of 3 rain showers soon fell on us. The brilliant sunshine had turned to variable cloudiness and now rain. Within 15 minutes, just about the time that we had gotten our rain gear out and had fully covered ourselves and our packs, the rain stopped and the sun returned. The day felt even fresher than before. The sky was still variable though and we kept our rain jackets handy, just in case.

Enjoy the View
Cindy Enjoys the View
Trailside Break
Trailside Break

Another half hour of easy walking across Horseshoe Mesa brought us back to the bottom of the Grandview Trail and the beginning of the long climb back toward the rim. The Grandview Trail is intimidatingly steep and rough when descending, causing one to dread the climb back out, but in actuality the climbing is easier than the descent. Oh yes, the grade is steep and laborious, but footing is not an issue as it was when descending. A few more rain clouds visited us and prompted us to cover up again, but for the majority of the time we climbed in dry comfort. We were treated to delightful views of an inner canyon rainbow and of sparkling raindrops glistening in the sunshine, all adding to the beauty of the Canyon.

More Storm
More Storm
Raindrops in Sunlight

As we climbed higher, the weather settled somewhat and left us with dazzling vistas into a rain-fresh Canyon, sparkling in the evening light. The Grandview Trail is one of the prettier trails in the Canyon and the cloud texture and soft light served to enhance the beauty. At 5:30pm we exited the Canyon, tired and glad to stop, but also wishing it wasn't yet over. It had been a spectacular day and we were both glad that we hadn't let the unfavorable weather forecast scare us off.

Upper Grandview
The Upper Grandview Trail
After Storm
After the Storm
How We Felt
This is How We Felt
At the End

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