5 Miles; Home to Bright Angel Trailhead to Havasupai Gardens
Given the surge in COVID cases that really took off mid-November (and were helped along by those traveling and socializing during the holidays), we decided to cancel our months-ago-booked flights to Ohio. We would keep the holidays local, spending Christmas and New Years at the Canyon. In the few weeks leading up to Winter Break, I reached out to the Backcountry Office at the Grand Canyon. We were able to subsequently score 4 nights and 5 days down in.
The nice thing about the itinerary we got was that we could walk from our house into the canyon down to Havasupai Gardens Campground in like 3 hours. On December 22, we drove to Williams to drop off Blaze at the kennel, we swung by Flag to drop my bike off for a little barrel adjuster work, and then we headed back to the Canyon to eat lunch. At 2:30 pm, we left and headed down in. The weather was a cooperative and somewhat unseasonal 50 degrees on top. Shorts were surprisingly worn in comfort. Soon after heading down the many switchbacks, the sun took that early afternoon slant that cooked the light yolk-orange awash across the rocks.
We rolled into camp which had many spots still available for this early evening hour. We found a good one and started hammering down stakes for the Triplex as strong winds were ripping through Garden Canyon. The winds were so strong that the autumn-leafed cottonwoods were shedding branches with each blow. A ranger came and urged everyone to check where they were placing their shelters to avoid windfall. Bucks and does wandered closely throughout, all habituated to humans and looking for some warmth in the dead winter grasses.
As far as dinner, Janna and I had grabbed some breakfast burritos from Martanne's in Flagstaff. We had thrown them in some gallon plastic bags which we retrieved to eat as hearty food in the gathering cold. Honestly, I still felt like it was unseasonably nice, and we sat out until 8 pm reading by headlamps as the winter skies opened up overhead. We climbed into our shelter which billowed and shook all night from the blasting winds; I slept well.