From: October 8 to October 15, 2017

Destination: Grand Canyon National Park, AZ

  • Backpacking The Grand Canyon - FULL

    The Grand Canyon is truly one of the wonders of the world. And while standing at the rim is awe-inspiring, simply gazing at the Canyon is not sufficient to gain an understanding of how truly monumental it is. It really is a wilderness, and once you leave the crowds at the rim and hike away from the major trails into the backcountry, you will be amazed at the solitude, the sense of remoteness, and your own insignificance. It's a challenging trip and one that is worth every ounce of effort.

    THIS TRIP IS FULL. To get on a waitlist, register for the trip (no deposit required).
  • As is true on any wilderness adventure, the final itinerary may be affected by weather, intervening events, group desires etc. Our specific route is not guaranteed until we have our permit. The route described is one we have done in the past.

    Sunday, October 8: We'll meet in the Phoenix Airport at 8AM for our four hour drive to the Canyon. Arriving in early afternoon, we'll spend the rest of the day reviewing important safety considerations, buying any last moment items, and preparing for our hike. And, of course, walking over for our first peek at the Canyon, our home for the next 6 days

    Monday, October 9: We hike into the canyon on the Bright Angel Trail to Indian Gardens campground. Bright Angel is one of the few maintained trails,  with mules carrying people to Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Canyon, as well as backpackers and hikers;  thus it is a high use trail. Our mileage today is  4.8 miles, as we drop 3,060 feet and multiple rock layers to our first campsite, Indian Gardens. Located along the Bright Angel Trail, the campground is a beautiful riparian area filled with cottonwood trees, with a small creek passing through on its way to the Colorado River. This is the most developed of our campsites, and the only one on our trip with picnic tables. After setting up camp we'll likely have some time to relax, before walking out to Plateau Point (optional, 3 miles round trip) for sunset, our first view of the Colorado River, and the single best viewpoint of the entire Bright Angel Trail system. 4.8 - 7.8 miles. 3,060 feet descent.

    Tuesday, October 10: Today we head west on the Tonto Trail. The dynamic interplay of soft and hard layers of stone created an open benchland at the rim of the Inner Gorge called the Tonto Platform. Easily visible from several South Rim overlooks, the greenish Tonto rocks have eroded into an obvious exception to the striking vertical cliffs that characterize most of Grand Canyon. The Tonto Trail follows this natural transcanyon route, making it unique among Grand Canyon pathways. Our mileage today is substantially longer (10.7 miles) with some up and down, and an overall loss of 800 feet. We'll pass Horn Creek, where natural uranium has caused the water sources to be radioactive, and Salt Creek, whose highly mineralized water is both unreliable as a water source and not very palatable. Climbing over one last ridge, we descend to the water paradise of Monument Creek. Here water is plentiful and thus the perfect place to spend two night. 10.7 miles, 800 feet total elevation loss

    Wednesday, October 11: We can't imagine a better place for a layover day! Near our campsite a small stream has cut through rock, and following the stream down through ancient polished rock is great fun. We'll also have time to hike down to the Colorado River and dip our feet (or our entire bodies!) into its cold waters for the first time. Wherever streams enter the Colorado, flash floods have deposited large rocks and boulders into the River, causing the rapids that make rafting down the Grand Canyon so much fun! The rapids here are called Granite Rapids and seeing the power of the water there gives us new respect for John Wesley Powell and his exploration of the canyon by wooden dories back in the late 1800s. We'll return to the same campsite tonight, refreshed from our day of playing without packs. 3.8 miles

    Thursday, October 12: Putting our backpacks back on, we continue along the Tonto Plateau to Hermit Creek, another reliable water source. After climbing out of Monument Creek, the trail is relatively flat until we get to the Hermit Trail Junction, a total of 3.8 miles. From here we continue another 1.5 miles down Hermit Canyon, a lovely canyon with impressive narrows that gradually open up into a lush desert canyon. We follow the canyon to the Colorado River, and camp close to Hermit Rapids tonight. These rapids are dramatic, with some of the largest waves in the entire Canyon and thundering that can be heard long before we first see them. We often see wildlife here too - big horn sheep are common and ringtail cats frequently try to steal any food available. And with any luck, we can cheer on rafting parties as they pass through the big waves. Sleeping close to the River is a whole different experience. 5.3 miles, 1200 feet net elevation loss  

    Friday, October 13: Our morning today can be casual, as we continue to explore the surrounding area or take some quiet time to gaze at the River. When we're ready, we will don our packs once again and return up the Canyon to Hermit Creek. The campground here is located right next to Hermit Creek, and once again we'll have the opportunity for a refreshing dip. Our goal tomorrow morning is to get a very early start, as it is a strenuous hike out that can take 7 hours, so we'll get our packs as ready as we can and enjoy an early bedtime.

    Saturday, October 14: Today will likely be our most challenging day. The trail from Hermit Creek to the rim is a non-maintained and rugged trail, rising steeply (3500 feet) over 7.5 miles as we pass by the various layers of rock that we've been looking at this week, especially the magnificent redwall limestone. We'll get an early start this morning so that we have plenty of time, going at a slow and steady pace. When we reach the top, the shuttle bus will take us back to our lodging where hot showers, soft beds, and clean clothes all feel like the perfect reward for our efforts. Tonight we'll go out for a final farewell dinner, celebrating our achievements and bidding farewell to the canyon, perhaps watching one more sunset from the rim first.

    Sunday, October 15: Do we really have to leave? Unfortunately the answer is yes. We'll get an early start this morning, so we can be back at the Phoenix airport by 1 pm and you can plan to fly home anytime after 2:30.
  • Price: $1595  (see this page for discounts). Deposit $300. There is one single (2 nights hotel and single tent) available for $250. Please make sure you understand our cancellation policies.

    Trip Includes

    • Experienced guide(s)
    • Two nights lodging at Maswik Lodge and five nights camping
    • All breakfasts and dinners from dinner Sunday to breakfast the following Sunday 
    • Group camping and cooking equipment, including tents
    • Permits
    • Roundtrip transportation from Phoenix to the Canyon 
    Not included: Transportation to PHX, lunches and snacks, alcoholic beverages (not allowed while camping), guide gratuities
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  • Common Questions

    If you’ve never traveled with us before, you may have some questions about how we do things and what you can expect. We’ve answered the most common ones below and are always available by phone or email to answer any others.

    How do I pay for my trip?

    You can make the deposit by submitting a secure form with your credit card information after filling out the registration form or calling us with your card information. We will send you an invoice for the balance due with your Predeparture Information 4 months before an International trip and 3 months before a domestic trip. You can get a 3% discount for paying the balance by check.

    What if I’m coming alone?

    The majority of women who travel with us come by themselves. If you want to pay a single supplement to guarantee your own room, or if you want to share a room with someone with whom you are traveling, you can indicate that on the registration form. Otherwise we randomly assign roommates and rotate every time we change lodging – it’s a great way to get to know different women on the trip.

    Can you accommodate special diets?

    We can always accommodate vegetarian, gluten-free, and omnivore diets. On most trips we can also accommodate lactose-free, vegan, and other restricted diets, although in some locations the availability of special food may be limited. If in doubt about your specific dietary needs, please give us a call (877/439-4042) or send us an email.

    What if I have to cancel my trip?

    The amount of your refund depends on how close to the trip you cancel and whether it is a domestic or an international trip. You can read our cancellation policies here. We highly recommend travel insurance because cancellations are always unexpected; we will send you additional information about insurance when you register.

    Will my family be able to get in touch with me in case of an emergency?

    Yes, we always send out emergency contact information. On a few trips, because of limitations in communication, the best approach is to give them the office number and let us make the contact.

    What other information will you send me?

    When you register, we’ll send you a Trip Summary that includes the itinerary, travel information, and a packing list. Three to four months before your trip we’ll send you Pre-Departure information that includes detailed information on how to get to the trip starting point, pre- or post-trip lodging suggestions, suggested books and websites etc. Four to six weeks before the trip, we’ll send you a list of everyone who is registered along with their travel plans; and a Pre-Trip letter with the name of your guide(s) and how to contact them if your arrival is delayed as well as any other important updates.

    Do you help with pre-trip and/or post-trip hotel reservations?

    For international trips, if you want to stay at the hotel where we’re staying the first night before the trip, or at the hotel we’re staying the last night after the trip, we’re happy to make a reservation for you. Otherwise our PreDeparture Information will have hotel suggestions. Our travel agent is also happy to help you with this.

    How does the waitlist process work and how often do people cancel?

    If you are interested in a trip that is full, you should sign up here. If there is a cancellation, we send out an email to everyone who has expressed interest and ask them to respond within 24 hours. If more than one person is interested, we give the space to the person who has traveled with us before or in the order of being put on the waitlist. Frequently, even when we have a long wait list, it is the last person to sign up who is still available to go. Whether or not there will be a cancellation is completely unpredictable, although not uncommon.

    What is the role of the guide(s)?

    On every trip, the primary roles of the guide(s) are to ensure your safety and to make sure that, to the extent possible, you are having the trip you want. The guide(s) will also make sure that you know what is happening each day and what you need to bring to be prepared. On domestic trips the guide(s) will also likely be driving, preparing picnic lunches and sometimes other meals, providing skills instruction, and giving you information about the natural history of the area. On any trip where we partner with another company (which is most international trips and some trips that require special equipment), the AGC guide will work with the local guide to make sure that the trip is conducted in accordance with the AGC philosophy.

    What if I have more questions?

    Give us a call (877/439-4042) or send us an email. A Program Manager is assigned to each trip. Once you have registered, she will send you a registration confirmation letter that includes her name and email, and she will be your primary contact. Her job is to make sure that you get all your questions answered and that you feel completely prepared for your adventure.

    What if I'm the oldest/youngest/heaviest/least in shape/only single woman/only mom on the trip?

    You might be. Someone has to be the oldest/youngest/heaviest/least in shape person on the trip. And while the great majority of our trips have both single and non-single women, and moms and non-moms, sometimes they don't. But it doesn't matter if you're "different" in any of those ways - what you will share with everyone else is a desire to experience adventure in your life, and an appreciation of the joy and camaraderie of being in an all women's group.

Trip highlights

  • Backpacking in a remote desert wilderness environment with towering colorful canyon walls
  • Sleeping out in a dry, bug free (usually) environment under stars that are unbelievably bright
  • Seeing bighorn sheep, mule deer, tufted ear squirrels, and ringtail cats
  • Exploring side canyons and learning about canyon ecology and geology
  • Experiencing the Canyon in a way that few people ever do

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