Tonto East & the Escalante, Grand Canyon 2023

Tonto East was the only part of the Tonto Trail which I hadn’t previously hiked, so when Joern proposed this trip I didn’t hesitate. Previously, I had hiked all of the other sections of the Tonto Trail: the Beamer Trail section (far east to the confluence of the Little Colorado), the Escalante section, Boucher to Bright Angel, the Gems and the Royal Arch Loop (in the far west).

Me looking at the Colorado River

This year winter was particularly wet and the upper 1/2 mile of the Tanner Trail was buried under a layer of snow. We needed Microspikes to safely negotiate it.

John negotiating the snow packed upper section of the Tanner Trail

Tony and Joern negotiating the snow packed trail

The Tanner trail offers fantastic views of the Grand Canyon.

Tony looking at the view of the Colorado River

The water of the Colorado River was particularly muddy, probably from all the sediment washed in by the heavy rain higher up. Notice how brown the water is in this rapid. We had to use a small quantity of alum in the water and let it sit for a few hours before we could scoop the water and treat it. Otherwise, the silt in the water would have clogged out filters.

Rafts on the Colorado River

The Escalante section avoids tall cliffs along the river by climbing high above them. The high point is some 1500 ft. above the river. Once over the high point of the Escalante, the trail descends into the Seventyfive Mile Canyon and offers some cooling from the day’s heat. This time there was water flowing in the small fall where the trail enters the canyon’s floor.

Hiking in the Seventyfive Mile Canyon

Tony climbing along the Seventyfive Mile Canyon

John climbing in the Seventyfive Mile Canyon

After a night at the confluence of the Seventyfive Mile Canyon, we continued for the last section of the Escalante. There is a 20ft 3rd class climb which gets around some cliffs at the water edge. This is considered the crux of the Escalante section.

Joern and John along the Colorado River

Tony Climbing the crux of the Escalante Trail

John Climbing the crux of the Escalante Trail

Joern Climbing the crux of the Escalante Trail

We made it to Hance Rapids. The end of the Escalante section and the start of the Tonto East Trail. At this point Joern, John and Tony decided to take it easy and go back to the South Rim Village, while I continued on the trail by myself.

View from the Tonto Trail

Clouds appeared in the sky and help with photography. But the weather forecast was still for no rain. At my camp by Cottonwood Creek, I had the desert to myself.

My camp at Cottonwood Canyon

The final night out on the trail, I found a flat spot with a great view of the river. The sunset and the sunrise the following morning were spectacular.


Me looking at the Colorado River along the Tonto Trail

Sunrise along the Tonto Trail

The Tonto trail finally connect to Bright Angle Trail which climbs back to the rim of the canyon. The american redbud trees were in bloom at the Havasupai Garden (formally Indian Garden).

American Redbud trees were in bloom, Havasupai Garden (formally Indian Garden) area

I met Joern and John again as they were going back into the canyon to continue their backpack trip. I was out of food and tired from the long day, so I just kept going to the rim and finished my trip.

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