Grand Canyon Hermit Trail – Hermit’s Rest to Monument Creek & Hermit Creek
Semi-Loop – 21 miles
Day 1 – 9.3 miles – Hermit’s Rest (canyon rim) to Monument Creek
Day 2 – rest and exploration around Monument Creek
Day 3 – 3.5 miles – Monument Creek to Hermit Creek
Day 4 – 8.2 miles – Hermit Creek to Hermit’s Rest
We woke before the first light to beat the inevitable heat. As we took our first strides down the steep, rocky path we were strong, confident and thrilled at the glowing canyon walls around us, illuminated by the sun’s early rays. With each step we took down, we knew we’d eventually have to come back up, but we brushed those thoughts aside, eager to dive deep into the truly impressive Grand Canyon; an enormous gash in our Earth’s crust, not visible from the surrounding plains until you are standing at its dramatic edge.
The sun rose higher and higher, but the bending and folding canyon walls shaded us with their cool rock as we meandered our way down into the warmer air that felt as though the night air had never cooled it down.
But eventually our luck ran out and the time had come for us to feel the full brute force of the sun’s heat. Hiding behind boulders and crouching under small bushes we tried to grasp at every inch of shade we could find, while feeling the desperate need to push on to our final destination in order to beat the heat that we knew would only get worse with every minute. And so it did. And with only two miles left, and still an hour or two before High Noon, we met our 100 degree match. But we pushed on, knowing that a cool creek and some form of shade were promised at our trail’s end. And thankfully the promise held true.
We spent the following day and a half dipping our feet and splashing our bodies in the small creek, exploring the deep slot canyons of our narrow, protected valley, hiding in the cliff overhang that was the only cool shady spot between 10am and 4pm, building relationships with lizards, flies, bees, birds then bats and frogs and crickets that made the most powerful orchestra as the short, hot night settled in.
We were trapped in a way that was unfamiliar. We were safe and cool, but we both had daunting feelings all along that the only way out of the buggy safe haven we had called home for two days was a long grueling path that we would soon enough have to take. But before we had to face that reality we were happy to have a short early morning jaunt over to the plentiful Hermit Creek where an actual shady swimming hole awaited us with other hikers who had experienced the same hardships as we had. It was surprisingly wonderful to have other humans to lament with and share in the joy of a cold dip, and to build up courage all together to face the 4000 feet of elevation gain that challenged us in the coming dawn. By nightfall we were no longer afraid and felt ready and excited to charge our way out.
We woke before the first light to beat the inevitable heat. As we took our first strides up the steep, rocky path we were strong, confident and thrilled at the glowing canyon walls around us, illuminated by the sun’s early rays.
Its dry, hot, dusty, cold, windy, snowy, rainy; unforgiving. Its big, grandiose, epic, awesome, righteous; spiritual. The Eastern Sierra kind of rules all of California, reigning over it from the east side and laughing in the face of those in the west who think the trip is too much work; the east doesn’t want you, the east doesn’t need you, and most importantly, the east doesn’t care.
The area in and around Mono Lake is full of secret hot springs, craters, and fourteeners no one has heard of. It boasts memories of our presence and departure through abandoned towns, mines, cave dwellings and petroglyphs. This area tells us the story of its history through volcanic shapes and remnants.
The Fissures are a kept secret of the East side; hidden in plain view atop a hill made of volcanic ash just waiting to be explored and treasured. They are a series of slot canyons 20-50 ft deep and 2-6 ft wide, shaped volcanically telling an intrinsic piece of the geological history of the Eastern Sierras and Mono Lake. Finding them can be tough but is worth the short jaunt for such a massive reward.