I've been wanting to do this trail for a long time and I finally got permission and support from the family to do it. A few years ago, this area was known to only a few locals, but its popularity is showing in the ragged appearance of the site, and the fact that the old jeep road has been recently converted into a graded parking lot with bathroom stalls, kiosks, and enough room to park 8 full-size trucks and horse trailers. Its transformation is amazing.

The trail is short, no more than 2 miles from trailhead to the edge of the canyon, although you can hike further (I'd like to; maybe next time). The views are incredible. There are currently no restrictions, but I'm guessing within this next year (owing to the recent renovations at the trailhead) this spot will see some limitations.

My son was eager to join me, as was my mom! For a change, I opted to try out a new floorless tent with my son while my mom chose the hammock. The site we picked was right near the edge of the canyon and had very limited hanging options, so the tent was a good choice. Further back down the trail there are a lot of trees, although the views aren't as great.

My mom borrowed my Stormcrow 3s underquilt, Grand Trunk Ultralight hammock, and OES Mac Cat Standard tarp. She was warm all night (except for her lower leg -- the pad I gave her wasn't long enough).

From the reports we gathered, we guessed the overnight low was between 15 and 20F, but there was a constant wind all night, so the wind chill drove it down further. It was cold. Elevation is about 5,000 ft.

My son and I both had torso-sized blue pads, and our backpacks for ground insulation. I thought I'd try testing my Stormcrow 3s top quilt. It didn't take long for me to realize that the quilt wasn't quite wide enough as I tossed and turned through the night. If I forced myself to sleep on my back or stomach, I could maintain a good seal, but sleeping on the ground was torture. The quilt was very warm, but the miserly bottom insulation on the ground just didn't cut it (we were sleeping on cold, wet sand). My son fared a bit better than I did, but by 4 AM, we decided to cut our losses and we doubled up the pads (that worked great) and doubled up in our sleeping bags.

Nothing like another bad tent experience to make hammocks more desirable. I'm hoping to do this trail again, but next time, I'll insist we all sleep in hammocks.