I have to admit, I’ve been loving the Tonto Trail ever since we’ve gotten on it. If you are a lover of large panoramic views, this is the trail to be on. You are granted so many amazing views of the Canyon while hiking along this trail. The trail meanders for miles from Tanner Beach to way beyond Indian Gardens towards the western end of GC, generally contouring about 1000 feet above the River. Occasionally it maybe drops 100-200 feet when traversing a canyon, only to climb back up. Well, that is pretty much what we hiked on all day.
As expected, it rained off and on for most of last night. Heck, it even rained-hailed off and on today. We actually were ok with the rain. The Tonto Trail is known for its minimal water sources and dry-hot terrain. The temperatures never got above 65F and it was mostly cloudy today. Thank god for that. We got the brunt of today’s rain and hail in the morning hours as we were climbing towards Horseshoe Mesa. While this isn’t part of the Tonto, we decided to go thru this part, despite the 1200 foot climb, because the historical mining aspect of this mesa intrigued us. Before the GC became a National Park, a lot of mining activity took place here in the late 1800’s, early 1900’s. The mining interest was apparent to me on the mesa. Rocks with blue and green ore dotted the ground, which to my knowledge signifies copper. There was a Keep Out sign on one particular mining shaft indicating radioactivity, apparently a uranium mine. Pete apparently had been here before with his caving group while surveying a new cave. So he was familiar with the area. Being that this part of the Canyon is on the Redwall Limestone, I am not surprised of the abundance of caves here.
Leaving the mesa, we made our way back down to the Tonto, passing Cottonwood Creek and Grapevine Creek, which were both flowing. We had lunch at Grapevine Creek Canyon. From there it was about 8.7 miles to our destination for the day, Lone Tree Canyon. Along the way, we passed right under Shoshone Point on the South Rim. That is where my wife and I married last August. That is where we said our vows.
I don’t know if I had said this before, but I never took into account how much I would miss her during this Hayduke journey. I guess it hit home even more as I was walking just under Shoshone Point. She understands me and is patient with my wish to have hiked this trail, especially being that I wanted this for my 40th birthday celebration.
Anyhow, Pete, Cuban B, and I were happy to have found water at Lone Tree Canyon, even more so that water and campsites were right on trail. We camped here for the night.