August, 2005

Doug Minderlen, Greg Reinhart and I (Dave Wyant) embarked on a long dayhike in the Grand Canyon to explore lower Phantom Creek. We had visited and explored upper Phantom Creek 2 years ago via Utah Flats and at the time, were blocked from returning down lower Phantom by a 20' waterfall at the 3600' level. At that time, we did not know the location of the waterfall bypass route and were unwillling to downclimb. Now 2 years later, our goal was to visit lower Phantom Creek by accessing it from its lower end, i.e., from its outlet. Our "long" dayhike would include descending the South Kaibab trail, exploring Phantom Creek to the upper waterfall, and then returning to the South Rim by the same route.

South Kaibab trailhead

O'Neill Butte

Kaibab switchbacks

After our descent on the South Kaibab and a short rest break at Phantom Ranch, we found ourselves starting into Phantom Canyon at 10am, 4 hours after we began. The following pictures illlustrate the 3:15 hour, fun-filled hike to the waterfall obstacle at the 3600' level. We had intentionally chosen a warm, 100 degree day for this outing so that playing in the water would feel welcome and pleasant, which it did.

Outlet of Phantom

Wading from the start

More wading



and fun

playing in the water

Doug ponders.... jump in?

Outdoor swimming pool

Onward up the creek

More wading...

and wading...

and wading....

After 3:15 hours, we arrived at the upper waterfall and could go no further without some climbing or without retracing our steps to a bypass we had read about. We elected to stop and play here and then simply turn around and retrace our steps. Although it looked possible to climb the log to get above the waterfall, it did not look so safe to descend again. Greg and Doug modified the log assembly a little by replacing one of the 2 major logs with a larger one. After over an hour of "goofing off" at the waterfall, we headed back the way we had come.

and wading

The obstacle waterfall

Filtering water

The log

Us near the waterfall

Back down Phantom

More wading...


and fun

Nice lighting

The lower waterfall

Back at Phantom's outlet

The lower waterfall is only a few minutes up Phantom from its outlet and would provide a nice destination for anyone wanting a shorter side hike. We paused there to enjoy it. Within 3:15 hours, we had travelled back down Phantom Creek and arrived at Bright Angel Creek and the North Kaibab trail again. We walked the mile to Phantom Ranch, watered up and headed back up the South Kaibab trail, leaving the river shortly after 7pm, and exiting the Canyon by flashlight.

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