The Tuckup Trail has been on my radar for years but the stars didn't align for it to happen until recently. I missed this year's Black Canyon event due to work so Tuckup became the back up plan.
I started on the Tuweap side of the trail which meant a long drive through muddy roads to remote this remote part of the Grand Canyon. Friends Hayden and Ashley Hawks met me out there to shuttle my truck to the exit and to see me off. I started Friday morning on a cold clear day. This route starts easy on an old 4x4 track then descends quickly in to chaos. The trail is more connect the dots than anything with the dots being random bits of trail, cairns, and reading the topography. Nothing is maintained out here. This is a route with two end points not a tail per say. You're navigating canyons while avoiding cactus and cliff edges. Besides starting a couple hours later than planned day one went well. Saw one group of four people about 20 miles in and that was it even though the park service almost didn't issue me a permit because it was too busy this time of year.
As the sun set it got cold. I had on all my layers. Navigating here in the day is hard but it's next to impossible at night. With no trail and everything being washed out each mile took longer than the day time by a lot. After a few hours of freezing and getting lost I called it a night at around 10 pm. I crawled in my sleeping bag and shivered till the sun came up. Goal on day two was to make it near the exit which didn't happen. Things are slow out here and the canyon dictates your pace. Miles are relative. Everything wants to kill you and mocks you in the process. I got to my resupply spot mid morning and filled up with food and water. I stashed water at the only bail spot but really did not need it. In general, springs are your life blood here but with the rain and snow I had plenty of water in the potholes which saved me time by not having to leave the route to find the springs.
As the sun set for the second night I was motivated to push to the exit even though it was still quite a distance away but after a coupe hours of navigating convoluted off trail terrain and pulling cactus from my bleeding legs I called it. I was barely moving and it didn't make sense to spend thatch energy to not really go anywhere. I slept early. Compared to the night before it was warm. I ate hot food and tried to sleep.
45 hours in I awoke and got ready for the day ready to hit the exit and push. I moved quick and got out timely even with a solid climb up 150 mile canyon to escape this layer of the Grand Canyon. Here's some notes about this trail. One, it's a navigating route and not a trail. It looks easy on paper but will beat the crap out of you, You won't be running very much. Two, it's remote. You need to understand the terrain. This is not a park service trail that's marked with easy access. Once you're in it you're there and need to be smart. Rescue won't happen for al long long time. Three, water is scarce, in general. I got lucky with rain and temps. This would be a death march in the summer. Four, this is a full on adventure for a couple of days so keep that in mind, Most people do it over many days.
Anyways, great little trip that was a fun challenge,