a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Hiking and Topo Maps

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hiking and Topo Maps

SUMMARY: I'm almost on my way to Havasu Falls!

Tonight's my last Sierra Club evening hike before I leave for Arizona Saturday morning. Tonight's description:
Okay now we are going to get serious. This will be a fastpaced cardio hike of at least 5 miles and 500 feet gain with only brief stops at trail junctions. Now that the days are longer we can do more mileage and gain. We will hike into Rancho and if it's cool enough do two peaks, first up to the water tower and then up to the Vista Point. If it's too hot we will take a cooler route up part of the PG&E trail and then loop around the vista point. Bring layers and water. We need to be out of the
park by 8:41. (Download PDF topo/trail map)

"Too hot" could be interesting. The weather has been mostly beautifully balmly the last couple of weeks, but now that I'm heading for the desert, the west is heating up! Sunday's high was 70 in San Jose, Monday's 71, but yesterday 87 and today's paper blasts "100! Yikes! Near-record heat expected through Friday." (Flagstaff, not too far from the Grand Canyon, was 47 (!) yesterday but predicted 62 today. Keep it cool--)

Back in The Day, when I wanted a topo (topographic) map, I'd go to a hiking kind of store, find their huge rack of maps, and select the appropriate quadrangle--about a 2'x2' map, always sold flat and unfolded. If the trail I wanted happened to be in the corner so it split across 3 quadrangles, well, I bought 3 quadrangles and carried them with me. If you're into maps and want to read interesting status about the state of U.S. Geological Survey topo maps, check this Wikipedia article.

This time, I went to REI. There are nice-quality, large, folded topo maps of some key places. Like, there was a gorgeous one of the Grand Canyon main area, but it didn't quite go out to the canyon that we're going into. What to do? Use the computer to select the area that you want, and the scale that you want, and print the map on the spot! These are not huge maps--just 8.5x11" sheets--but nice quality, and mine perfectly covers the section of the Havasupai Indian Reservation from our trailhead at Hualapai Hilltop, down the Hualapai Canyon to our goals, Supai village and Havasu and Mooney Falls.

Now I can see that our hike won't be horrific to the canyon bottom. The first quarter mile or so of trail goes pretty much 600 feet straight down a cliff (well--switchbacking the whole way, I presume), then eases off slightly for the next half mile down another 400 feet, then a comparatively gentle 200 feet down over maybe three quarters of a mile.

Then we've got a 6-mile hike along the canyon bottom, which drops another 1,000 but gradually and gently over about 4 miles.

What's in the back of my mind this whole time? How insane will the dogs be when I get back after 8 days of minimal entertainment and exercise? Auuuuuuggggghhhhhh!


  1. Go, You! You'll have a great time but don't forget the ibuprophen and mole skin :-)

  2. Yup, they're at the top of my list!


  3. Sounds wonderful, and think of the stories you'll be able to tell when you get back!

  4. And I hope that they'll include less of things like snake poison and broken anatomical attributes and more of things like sunsets, rock formations, cool pools of water, and general camaraderie and jollity.

  5. Hope you have loads of fun! Can't wait to hear all about it.

  6. Sounds like fun and I'm sure the dogs will be fine. Just think of the crazy happy greeting you'll get when you get home.