We pack our gear and head up the trail. Since I am the slowest uphill hiker, the group places me at the back of the line. However, I tend to believe the real reason for this placement is they wanted to take advantage of my military background so I could guard our rear flank. Yeah, that's it!!
Maybe my position at the back of the line was a good thing after all. The chili we had for supper last night did not agree with me, requiring frequent off-trail stops. Holy Grail Temple is slowly fading into the distance behind me.
I find quite a few blooming flowers today. I'm not quite sure what makes this area more conducive to flowers than where we were the last few days.
As I make my way up Canyon, I see my first pine trees since leaving the rim.
There are still a lot of the usual desert type plants.
I am almost to the south end of this drainage, where I will loop back around to the north for a while on top some ledges.
I catch a Plateau Lizard sunning himself. When I finally reach the south end of the drainage and make the turn to the north, I know camp can't be too far now.
As I approach the Esplanade, I come to a series of steps and retaining walls originally built by William Wallace Bass over a century ago to aid in his tourist business and travel down his South Bass Trail.
I'm glad to be on top the Esplanade with its easy, level walking trail. I meet most of the group heading north to do a day hike up Mt. Huethawali. I'm having none of that and continue walking toward camp.
I pull into camp shortly and relax a while. Everyone puts the community kitchen gear they were carrying in one place so the assigned cook can have easy access to it later. We keep an eye out on top Mt. Huethawali, but never see any of the group up there.
Two guys come through camp this afternoon headed for the rim. One has a pistol strapped to his waist. That's the first time I've ever seen a hiker packing heat. We speculate that they may have been off-duty Rangers. Bob and I checked the weather on the internet the day our hike started and it showed completely clear weather this week. However, dark clouds roll in this afternoon and we see rain in the distance, so prudence dictates that everyone set up their tarps and tents.
Just as I get my supper from Jim, it starts to rain, so I retreat to the safety of my tent. My plan for tomorrow is to get up and leave early, so I won't slow down the rest of the group from getting to Phoenix and catching a late flight.