Pathfinder | 132 pts
This was a first experience backpacking into the GC from the rim. And by the way, it's the Bill Hall trailhead not the Bull Hall. The trail was every bit as advertised, but the first 1800 foot vertical pitch is very steep with loose rock. The spot, about 3/4 the way down at which one must either downclimb a dicey pitch with pack, or lower packs with a rope, can go either way. We elected to lower our packs (about 10-15 feet) but also could probably have downclimbed successfully. We easily ascended this pitch with packs on the way out. The esplanade is a delightful hike with numerous places to camp. The way is well marked with cairns or just beaten trail. We discovered that pitching a tent on solid rock is much better than on dirt. Very easy to keep the tent clean! There were no water potholes in October, but we had plenty of water, and people had left "free water" at the trail junction with the trail from Indian Hollow. We spent one night on the esplenade, then descended to a campsite at Tapeats Creek. The campsites are close to the creek and very sandy. We elected not to hike the loop river route to Deer Creek, as we would (according to our permit) have to have hiked all the way back up to Surprise Valley to make camp. We elected to simply climb from our Tapeats Creek campsite to a site in Surprise Valley (1400 feet) which was relatively easy,and the campsite, south of the trail, among prominent rocks, was very comfortable. Our final campsite, on the esplanade, just short of the steep uphill climb to the rim, was very comfortable. The climb out was strenuous, but the stupendous views of the canyon that are there for the entire route, are ...., well, stupendous! All in all it was a great five day trip for us. Keep in mind that the reporter is 68.