Day 2 – AGGRESSIVE Itinerary!

“It is the unknown around the corner that turns my wheels.”
– Heinz

April 15 – Phantom/Crystal Creek Loop
Below Cheops/Isis Saddle to Shiva Saddle

Arrow and I have hiked a lot of difficult and strenuous cross-country hikes and climbs over the last 12 years including: Enchanted Gorge, Muro Blanco, Great Western Divide, Sierra High Route, peaks over 14,000 in the High Sierras and many other difficult treks in Utah. Today was by far the most dangerous and strenuous days of all. Between getting very low on water, getting stuck between the geologic  layers, class 3 and 4 chimneys with exposure, heat, route finding confusion, and falling short of our next water source… it was scary. To Arrow’s credit, the route descriptions online and in the guidebook were vague and left a lot of vital information out. I think our team made some good choices, but I have to admit this was the first real time I have been in a very dangerous situation in the back-country.


On a positive note, the Grand Canyon is beautiful, inspiring, vast, and ever changing.

Last night we woke up just in time to view the Lunar Eclipse. Just as the moon’s eclipse evolved, stars appeared bright over the night sky and the moon shown orange. It was incredible.

Our route up Trinity Canyon to the Isis/Shiva Saddle was slow and hot. Just below the saddle we used rope to haul our Gossamer Gear packs up a tight chute. It was the first of many that day.

After getting to the top of the saddle we assessed our water situation realizing that we would not make it to our next water source, Dragon Spring.

To access the next saddle, Shiva Saddle we then saw that we had to maneuver up several shear layers. We were overwhelmed, but rallied up and between the 3 of us scouted out routes up. Arrow is very tall and was able to reach and perform some pretty incredible moves. Several times we discussed turning around, but it was so far back to water and down climbing the chutes this late in the day was too crazy.

After reaching the correct layer, donning headlamps we made it to the Shiva Saddle after dark. During this stressful afternoon and evening no one really took photos and the thoughts that kept running over and over again in my head is what I taught the kids in tHInK outsidE about:
S – stay put
T – think
O – observe
P – plan

It really works and kept me calm and focused.

I am so grateful to be alive and thankful for this group. Everyone is exhausted, sore, and dehydrated (we have 1/2 liter of water each rationed for the next 5 miles in the morning), but believe it or not we still have a sense of humor.


Trip Permit



  1. Just found this wonderful posting on your adventure into the Grand Canyon after reading your outing of the TGO. Our group was in Cremation that evening doing an easier on trail loop during the lunar eclipse. Your photo of it is stunningly beautiful! Sadly, none of us managed to snag a decent photo of it that night. Would it be possible with your permission to have some kind of access to this photo in order to print 3 possibly enlarged copies? It would be a great memento for our small group. Please let me know if you have thoughts or suggestions. thanks!

  2. royandronnie

    I am tantalized by the picture showing two hikers with sunbrellas attached to non-frame packs. How did you do that? I’ve been hiking in the Grand Canyon for 15 years, and one of the reasons I still use an external frame pack is because I can attach a baby-stroller fold-up shade to it. (The other reason being that I have sewn patches all over it!) I’d say you did very well to do a hike that hard with only a gallon and a half of water. I’ve carried three a couple times, and two is far from unusual–mandatory, really, if you know you’ll have a dry camp.

  3. Wow, what a trip! Great photos, really enjoyed reading.

  4. Your pictures are wonderful, especially the one of the eclipse!!

  5. Hey Rockin’! I’m just now catching up on your adventures. Love that you’re exploring off trail “aggressive itinerary.” Your stories and beautiful photos are making my feet itch!

  6. Just reading the details gave me a bit of anxiety, I can only imagine how it felt out there. Having trustworthy partners, ones who can help make good decisions is paramount. I too believe in STOP! I continue to learn lessons of my boundaries by experiencing these anxiety-ridden situations. I’m so glad you lived to tell the story 🙂

    • I was sure glad STOP was going through my head instead of some dumb song (that happens). Anxiety is a good word, but panic was just a step away. I have never been this close to being one of those groups you read about that things went south. 🙁

      I am thankful for years of experience and good team mates.

  7. A life well-lived is one spent embracing uncertainty and finding a balance between risk, skill and trust.

  8. LOL “Hiker insisted on itinerary”. Well, you just gained another star in my book (S.T.O.P)! I believe you’re the first person I’ve encountered that actually knows and uses this technique. I learned it while reading Deep Survival and it shaped my outside play habits thereafter. Also impressed with your humility in admitting the things you did in this post. Pics are absolutely beautiful. Crisp, clear and coloured. Huzzah!

    • Neil, Love that you noticed so much!!! Yes, funny on the permit.
      Every year I mess with settings to get the clearest photos from my phone to posts. It is a process. This year I am transferring photos from an EZshare SD card in my Sony RX100 to my phone, then to a journal entry. It is always a tricky knowing what will be the best resolution to upload. It is very frustrating but worth it.

      Ahhh yes STOP. It works. I hope my students will be able to recall it if ever needed.

  9. That’s a tough day! I also had serious doubts about my safety on this route through the Supai to Shiva Saddle, especially considering the water logistics (Or lack thereof!). Great job!

    • Glad to hear you worked out all the pesky details. I can’t wait to hear about days 3 to 6.

    • You are a testimony that hikers do actually hike up this route. Got to admit I did question, Why????

      Doubts…ahhh yes I had lots of those. Lots of maneuvers with consequences. The Shiva Saddle was very surprising. We almost walked right over it in the dark (headlamps) because it is full of trees. A strange saddle indeed.

      An experience like this is a wake up call to just how important water is!

  10. X2 to the above.

    I like the preparedness in your logic. That’s what makes the real difference. You are Rockin’ and that’ll get you out of this predicament and on to smoother sailing. Prayers and petitions are going up for you and your crew Dan and Arrow.

  11. I am praying flowing water sources, good decisions, and God’s favor.

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