Friday, July 1, 2016

Grand Canyon Temples

1hr of hiking to get this view of Holy Grail. 
I'd been asleep for an hour when I woke at 22:30 to John's vehicle ending it's drive with an hour of four wheeling to meet me at Swamp Lake.  I couldn't see the lake when I drove up but my GPS had said I was close and that was good enough for me.  John deffinetly couldn't see a lake, but was working on the assumption that my truck would be where I said it would be 3 days ago when we'd texted last.  We left the vehicles at 04:00 to try and avoid as much of the 90-100 degree temps as possible.  Unfortunetly starting in the dark made navigating past the New Mexico Locust difficult.  If you are unfamiliar with New Mexico Locust as I was, I'd suggest Carharts, chaps, and a machete before getting anywhere close to them.  Imagine overhead thickets of bushes with inch long thorns.  As we had hoped the sun rose as we got to our descent route off the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  We could see our objective Holy Grail Temple in the distance.  This obscure peak is guarded by miles of bushwhacking, scrambling, route finding, an approach rappel and 3 pitches of rock climbing up to 5.8 in difficulty.  The first pitch was one of the loosest I'd climbed and demands that the climber not pull out on holds but instead only push down and in if possible.  With a lot of care we got up safely arriving on the summit of Holy Grail Temple at 10:15.  
Foot prints in the rock on pitch 3.
The heat was mildly heinous but we knew the return route.  We'd left a rope fixed where we rappelled on the approach and ascending it went smoothly.  I drank the last of my 5 liters of water as the vehicles came into view. Perfect timing!  We arrived back at the vehicles at 16:15 having hiked 13.8 miles.  After getting some food, water and rest it was time to move camp for tomorrows objective.  An hour an a half of rough roads got us to camp in a beautiful meadow.  That night with the temps as high as they were I didn't bother to heat up my canned soup.  Instead I just popped the top and ate it at the cool and refreshing temp of 90 degrees. 
Sunset on the North Rim.
Again at 04:00 we left on what would be a 18.5 mile day to do Shiva Temple.  Although more miles, Shiva was easier because it lacked the bushwhacking and technical difficulties of Holy Grail.  We arrived at the summit at 09:00 and found the classic milk containers.  On our return trip I somehow got off the cairned trail and missed the drainage we were supposed to take back up to the North Rim.  So instead of backtracking we bushwhacked and scrambled up a different drainage.  Luckily that was the end of the days difficulties and we arrived back at the vehicles at 14:40.  Just enough time to go grab some ice cream from the Grand Canyon Lodge!
These are leftovers from the 1937 Shiva Temple Expedition
hosted by the American Museum of Natural History.
Zoroaster and Brahma just barely visible in the distance. 
The last day entailed tagging two summits, Juno and Jupiter.  Although our distance hiked was less than the previous two days at only 13 miles, it ended up being the most draining of the 3 days.  Surely because it was our third day on but also because of the increased heat.  We left the TH at 04:30 hoping to have light for the route finding off the rim.  Unfortunetly the confusing directions caused us to get off route only a half hour into the day. After some thrashing around we found the correct gulley and made our descent.  To get down off the rim and past the Coconino band we had to rappel and leave a rope fixed for our return.  While descending the slope to reach the saddle we heard the rattle of a snake a few feet away and made the hasty decision to change course.  We reached the Juno summit at 08:30 and Jupiter at 09:30. Nothing about the terrain was that difficult but the heat drains energy quickly and we were exhausted by the time we reached the TH at 14:45.  John and I parted ways and started our long drives home, ending another great trip to the Grand Canyon!
John making quick work of the fixed line
 on the way out.