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luv'nAustin
05-26-2007, 07:57 PM
Hi ya'll, after months of training the hike is finally over. I got back last night from the Grand Canyon and it was fantastic.

I went with my husband and a girl friend from Austin. We arrived in Phoenix on Monday night and left for the Canyon early Tuesday morning along with three more friends from Phoenix and two additional friends from Austin that were coming along to drive our SAG wagon from the South Rim to the North while four of us hiked from South to North. The other two hikers were planning to hike to Horn Creek and camp for the night.

We spent the first day getting used to the altitude and had a lovely bus tour from the Bright Angel trail head to the Hermits Rest Trail head. We got off at every stop and took in the views.

No one slept well that night as we were all awake listening to a raging thunder storm as it shook the walls of our hotel room. We had a wake up call for 4:30a with plans to meet in one room for a cold breakfast before heading to the trail. The alarm went off along with another clap of thunder. I was having flashbacks of the last hike into the Canyon that I took in October. It was pouring rain on that day as well. This time I decided to skip the rain soaking hike and ride in the SAG wagon with my friends from Austin to the North Rim. I was hoping for better weather the next day so that I could then hike from North to South and at least complete half of my planned hike. I wished my other two hiking friends (the ones that brought proper rain gear) good luck and went back to bed.

Two hours later, my friend, the one that stayed back with me due to the rain, knocked on my door to drag me out of bed for coffee. I was very surprised to see that the rain had passed and that it now looked like perfect hiking weather. We made a quick decision to gather our gear and head to the trail head. The two campers were still around and agreed to drive us to the trail head as we frantically made peanut butter sandwiches in the back seat to stick into our packs.

It was 7:18a when we took our first steps into the Canyon. I was a little nervous despite the fact that it was at least my fifth trip down the Bright Angel trail as this was the first time I was doing it without my usual male hiking companions. This time, I was the leader and felt responsible for my friend's safety. It was her first time into the Canyon and I knew it was a long hike (nearly 23 miles) and would take us close to twelve hours.

Off we went. I was feeling pretty confident until about 15 minutes later when my friend said that she was surprised that the mules could really pass people on such a narrow trail. This caused the alarm bells to go off in my head and I realized that we had missed the very first switch back and had wandered off trail. So much for being a good leader! It was a short hike back to the real trail and we were off again until we hit the first of many bathroom breaks at the mile and a half house.

We successfully made our way to Phantom Ranch where we wondered around a bit before finding the correct trail that would lead us to the North Rim. For some reason I had it in my head that we needed to stay on the Bright Angel Trail. Eventually we located the map board that told us to get on the North Kaibab Trail. I can't believe that in just two years I had forgotten. That is what I get from depending on others to lead.

It was a long haul from Phantom Ranch to Cottonwood Camp and the only excitement that we had was when a snake slithered onto the trail right in front of my boot. I must have frightened him too as he quickly turned around and went back into the grass.

We had a quick stop at Cottonwood to eat our sandwiches, cool our toes, change our band-aids and put on clean socks. We had a goal. We needed to get out of the Canyon in time to shower before our 8p dinner reservations! This was one meal that we didn't want to miss as we were burning every calorie that we would be eating and then some! In total we burned 7,098 calories. It would taste good to get some real food after all of the nuts, bars, e-load drinks and other stuff we were consuming to fuel our bodies throughout the day.

We kept up a steady pace and finally made it out at 6:40p. It took us just a bit over 11 and half hours! Whoo hoo! We were lucky to have hiked on a cool day and experienced no problems ... until later in the evening when I started shaking and was unable to stay seated at the table during dinner. I retreated to the bathroom several times, but what I really wanted to do was to go to sleep. I couldn't eat more than a bite or two and felt like I had the worst case of flu. I guess I didn't eat and drink quite enough while on the trail.

I decided to ride in the SAG wagon the next morning and not push myself a second day. It was a good decision. My knee was hurting a bit and I'm hoping to compete in the Danskin Tri in less than two weeks.

Sorry this was so long. Happy trails everyone and stay safe!

Veronica
05-26-2007, 08:02 PM
Sounds like a good trip. We're heading to the North Rim in a few weeks for some mountain biking. I doubt we'll hike down into the canyon itself. My honey is having some knee issues. Riding doesn't bother it, walking does.

No pics?

V.

luv'nAustin
05-27-2007, 09:31 AM
Hi Veronica,

Hope it warms up a bit on the North Rim before your trip. It was still pretty cold on the rim last week. I'd love to hear how it goes. It is beautiful country and the cycling should be really fun. I wish I had time to do it all!

emily_in_nc
05-27-2007, 02:41 PM
Congratulations on your hike, luv'n! DH and I did the South Kaibab to River Trail and back up Bright Angel in one day on May 1 last year (17 ish miles, can't believe I've forgotten already!) What a gorgeous hike, though difficult (going up) and hot down low. Definitely a day I'll never forget.

You did great!

Emily

Pedal Wench
05-27-2007, 06:43 PM
Hey!!!! I just got back yesterday from MY Grand Canyon hike too!

We did a Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim, with stops at Phantom each way. We usually do some major backcountry hikes (down Grandview or Hermit and along the Tonto) so this year we went first class and just went straight through - down and up South Kaibab on the way in and out. We had warm/hot weather going from South to North, and totally lucked out on the day we hiked up South Kaibab - cool and overcast. We were amazed at how enjoyable it was to hike up and be able to relax and enjoy the scenery without worrying about melting. It was odd to stop at the Tipoff and not huddle in the shade of the potty...

We probably crossed paths at some point - we were out there for almost two weeks!

luv'nAustin
05-29-2007, 06:26 AM
Hi Pedal Wench!

I was thinking that you were going to be there around the same time. It was nice and cool the day that I hiked. It was hot the week before. You must have hiked in the heat too.

The trail was really quiet for us and we only saw a few people. Was it busier for you? Did you have to hike through the thick mud on the North Rim?

I'm so sad that we were in such a hurry and didn't get a chance to take many pictures. After we drove back from the North Rim we did another hike partway down Bright Angel to take some pictures.

Glad that you had a good time. I'd love to have more than a day or two to spend in the Canyon. Thanks for posting.

Pedal Wench
05-29-2007, 07:06 AM
Luv'n,

I just realized that you hiked on that wacky day after the storms! Were the trails a mess? The fog on the rim was just amazing. There were times that you couldn't see more than 50 feet away. We took tons of pictures that day -- even got 3 elk on the lawn by El Tovar! We were wondering how it was hiking in that, and the trail conditions after that rain. Do tell! edit: It was dry the whole time we were there, so no mud at all! Where was it yucky? OH! Are you talking about the bog/swamp just after the Box and before Cottonwood? Yeah, that was a mess!

We had good weather for our hikes. Usual brilliant sunshine on the first three days (South Kaibab, Phantom Canyon, North Kaibab) and cool weather on the North Rim. We kept seeing cloud cover and hoped we could benefit from it on our return hike. The hike down N. Kaibab was warm and sunny, but it never was the brutal sauna in the inner canyon. We had planned on hiking up South Kaibab (we had very light packs and could carry the necessary 6-liters of water, plus we cached two more liters on our way down - I do NOT recommend people hike up this trail without similar arrangements! *end legal disclaimer*) and usually we have to hurry because there is no shade whatsoever. Well, this was the same day as the thunderstorms, so it was VERY cool and overcast the whole way up. Absolutely perfect temps for hiking. In fact, it was a little cool, as I had shipped most of my clothes back from the North Rim, and only had a pair of shorts, sports top and a long-sleeved hiking shirt. It was fine while hiking uphill, but a little brisk when we stopped. However, given the alternative, it was really quite nice. I would have taken a ton of pictures, but my camera broke the day we arrived...

luv'nAustin
05-29-2007, 03:53 PM
The three elk! We also saw them on the lawn in front of El Tovar. We had dinner there on Thursday night to celebrate our trip.

The bog was a mess...always is, every year. The thick mud that I was referring to was on the North Kaibab Trail and it was probably the last half mile of the hike.

yellow
05-31-2007, 08:35 PM
Sounds like such a great adventure. My newest running friends really want to run a R2R2R. One of them did south rim to north rim and she really wants to go back and do the whole shebang. I don't think I'll be joining them in that endeavor! Apparently there are all kinds of crazy folks that run it. Craziness.

I would like to hike R2R2R someday, though. I've never been down there in the depths of the canyon!