We began our Grand Canyon adventure on the Hermit Trail to Granite Rapids bright and early, however, it was a cloudy morning (not so bright at all). The weather was chilly and perfect for hitting the trail. With packs loaded for our three day trip, we began the descent on the variable Hermit Trail. Hermit Trail offers a gateway to a variety of routes. The trail begins with steep rocky stairways and cobblestone paths once used as a mule route for an old hermit who decided mining wasn’t worth the trouble and brought down tourists instead to what we now call Hermit’s Camp. We dropped down to a junction to the Walden Trail and then Dripping Springs, which connects to the Boucher Trail, both of those trails were not taken. We continued down to the Santa Maria Springs rest stop, a crude shelter that offers respite and the spring waters ran clear and fresh. The trail follows a side canyon staying to the right side and mostly in the shade before a quick descent to the Tonto Trail. Before this, we stopped to don more summer-like clothing and sunscreen at Breezy Point. We enjoyed the castle-like features of the Redwall section of the trail as well. The sun felt warm and we stopped to lunch in the shade of a large boulder. Do bagels and summer sausage sound good? Well, they hit the spot with the right amount of salty goodness. We took a right turn at the Tonto Trail junction pointing to Monument Creek and Granite Rapids. A left turn would have taken us to Hermit Creek and down to Hermit Rapids, as I’ve experienced from a previous hike, or follow this Tonto Trail to the Boucher Trail to loop back up around on a rugged trail up to Dripping Springs (also seen from a previous trip many years ago – let’s just say 20 years ago). The weather stayed warm as we pounded onward to Monument Creek on the exposed Tonto Trail. Finally, we dropped into the Monument Creek and took shade to cool off. The monument itself is a tall 130 ft. spire of rock, a breath-taking surprise. The last mile followed the wash of Monument Creek, a zig-zag course that felt more like 2 or 3 miles, until we rounded a corner to hear the vicious Granite Rapids. After an artic plunge in the cold river, we relaxed in the shade. Soon, we were troubled by rafters, friendly enough, as we found out that these rapids are scary and most rafters stop to survey before running them. Also, our amazing campsite is an only option in this stretch of canyon for rafters. Later, we were politely shoved aside as a commercial raft with about 14 people wanted our spot. We moved aside, not hearing much of anything but the pounding waters of the rapids anyways. We were more troubled by wildlife that scurried through our campsite. We saw a baby rattler just as dark arrived and then a large scorpion invaded our breakfast reverie the next morning. The night was hot and sleep was spotty. I arose at the first twinge of light, venturing out for some low-light photography. Day 2 is a day to relax in the shade and explore the inner canyon. We were bugged again in the mid-afternoon by more rafters who wanted our spot, although we were planning to leave soon anyways to get a head start on the hike out. At about 4pm, we shuffled back up Monument Creek back to the Tonto Trail. The wind was picking up and clouds whizzed by above us. After climbing a ridge that overlooked Hermit Rapids, huge wind gusts caught us off guard, but became a delight to feel this invisible force push at us. We finished hiking near Hermit’s Camp for an evening of mild wind and huge star-filled skies. Back up fuzzy eyed the next morning, but raring to go, we started up that steep Redwall stretch first thing (as if we had a choice). Looking up, the trail was unseen and the route looked daunting even though we came down just two days prior. We climbed and looked back amazed at the distances covered. The weather was perfect for a hike out: shady and cool. We stopped again at Santa Maria Springs and re-charged for the last hard climb up. Back in the sunshine, we steadily climbed and made great time. We finished our hike at noon. On the drive back, we stopped to see Monument Creek from above. This 130 ft tower only looked like a little finger of a rock from way above! The hike was a special time in the Grand Canyon, reminding us all of it’s sublime grandeur. Here are some of my favorite photos from the trip, enjoy!