My wife and I were invited to be part of a winter-time hike on the Hermit Trail to Hermit Rapids of the Grand Canyon! The time of year: early March! We watched the weather report closely as the date drew near… will there be snow, will there be a storm? This time of year is wonderful for hiking. The days are mild, even cool. Luck would have it that it would snow the day before we start hiking. Yaktrax were a must to safely hike on ice and snow. It took a little longer to get to the trailhead because of slick roads, however, the air didn’t feel like the high teens that it was with the warming sun. After about a mile of trucking through the snow, our Yaktrax we no longer necessary and jackets were removed. The trail descends rapidly with many big steps followed by a little break of smoother trail before dropping down to the Santa Maria Springs. Afterwards, the trail weaves in and out with little elevation change, hopping through rock slides and short descents before reaching the redwall section of the trail. The trail zig-zags through spires of rock, a natural castle of sorts. We drop quickly to a little less rough section angling down and over to the end of the Hermit Trail where it joins the Tonto Trail. We turned left towards Hermit Creek and take the first right to the Hermit Rapids. Getting down to the creek we are welcomed to sounds of gurgling water and small waterfalls. The rock walls are narrow at first and then opens up to a seemingly long mile and a half of scrambling back and forth across the creek as the side canyon turns and descends to the Colorado River. Close to sunset, we are greeted to a roar of Hermit Rapids. We find beach-like accommodations to set up camp and make dinner. The night turns cold and we bundle up in our small dome tent for the night.
The next morning is for relaxing and enjoying the views from the bottom of the Grand Canyon. After lunch, we start packing up to move camp to Hermit Creek for our final and second night before returning the way we came. My wife and I took our time, enjoying the late afternoon light and the beginning of spring green grasses growing. The day felt warm and we welcomed the cool shade by Hermit Creek before setting up camp and heating up our dinner. I decided to get some tripod shots of the water and hiked back down the creek for evening light. Our campsite was close to a outhouse and we had the chance to chat with other hikers.
My wife and a friend got up super early for the hike out, leaving at 5am. By the light of their headlamps I watched them meander up the Tonto Trail while I packed up the tent and ate breakfast. Eventually, I got going to catch a sunrise at the Tonto/Hermit Trail Junction. With no hurry and many stops to watch the canyon come alive with light, we caught up with the early birds at the 4 mile mark to the rim. We continued on our way to Santa Maria Springs and then the final steep section to the top. The snow has mostly melted, but there were still icy sections in shaded areas. At about 12:30, we were greeted by friends waiting at the trailhead. The trip was a combination of beauty, good conversation, relaxation, and hard work. Enjoy the following photographs from the backpacking trip: