. We assumed there would be a mob scene of tourists on the road with us looking to beat the crowd as we were, but we found that we were the only ones on the road racing against a clock that only we (really only Christina) were keeping. About 2 hours later we reached the gates of the Grand Canyon South Rim. Upon entering, the Ranger validated the trails we were thinking of taking, and advised that given the very strong winds that day to stay to trails that focused on going down into the canyon, as opposed to those that would cling to the rim. Prior to arriving to the Grand Canyon we did research on which trails to do. The Bright Angel Trail is the best known, and most traveled, but given the extensive hiking boot-camp/training we did in Sedona, we thought we were too good for that commercial trail, and instead immediately headed to a trail that one of the Trail Guides had recommended during our pre-Grand Canyon research...the Grand View Trail. Once at the Grand View trail head, we excitedly filled up our Camel-backs (knapsacks that hold water..we are so cool now), layered up, took our required pre-hike picture, and headed down the trail
. We quickly realized that the description of the trail during our research wasn't quite accurate. They neglected to say, super steep, super narrow with trails not well kept. About 15 minutes later we found ourselves clinging to the cliffs of the canyon with palms sweating and gale force winds blowing us towards the edges..it was horrifying. The steepness and dishelveled trails we could have handled, but it was extremely narrow and ran along the canyon cliff. We hoped if we went a little farther it would widen up and get better, but that was not the case, no relief could be seen for miles. With that, we stuck our tails between our legs and headed to a more safe option...The Bright Angel Trail!!!
We drove back towards Grand Canyon Village and found our entry into the Bright Angel Trail and began our descent. From what we read we were expecting this trail to resemble an interstate highway of people and mules, but it really wasn't too bad at all and we welcomed the wide, well marked trail. As we descended down the canyon, the wind subsided and the layers began to peel off. This trail will eventually take you all the way down to the Colorado River, but there are signs all over to not attempt to make it down to the river and back in one day. This trail basically has three main stops that you can do in one day, 1.5 mile, 3 mile, 4.6 mile, one way. We went down to the 3 mile marker and that was more than enough
. It was fun to do the trail, but we felt that it really wasn't worth it. All the trail does is switch back and forth along the same canyon lines, thus your views don't change, nor does the terrain. You walk all they way down, down, down but once you get down, you have nothing but misery facing you when you turn around and have to go up, up, up!. We were selling the Grand Canyon all day!. A highlight of our 3 hour trek were the Condors that we saw fly above us, their wing span is huge - really cool sight to see. As we were hiking we saw people/families going down where we wondered how on earth will that person ever get back. We finished the down and up in under 3 hrs - it must take these people 6 hours to get back up to the rim!!!..(not trying to be mean, just realistic). We ran into a Ranger on our way back up to the Rim and asked her, what happens to those people that can't make it?? Are there end of day mule runs that pick up those that can't make it back up...and she said No. Basically, it is your responsibility to make it back up. They do a final walk up around 5pm, and when doing so they just help and guide those that are slacking. If folks go all the way down to the 4.6 mile marker and can't make it back up, or it is too late, they basically need to sleep at the ranger cabin that is down there and eat whatever emergency provisions are left there, knowing that they will need to get themselves back up to the rim the next morning!. We then asked her about the Grand View Trail...if it would have widened up had we stuck it out, she said No..that the trail is extremely narrow, that she saves people many times from that trail after they begin and realize they can't move forward and are frozen, she helps them back up the rim after their attempt, like ours
. Good to have that validation...:)
Overall we were amazed at this park's grandeur. The Grand Canyon is indeed grand, but equally impressive was the work completed and tourist empire that has been created in the South Rim. The Village and visitor centers offer a wealth of information on the canyon, there are tons of lodges and hotels and free shuttle buses that take you everywhere. Additionally, they have a rim trail that is about 12 miles long that goes along the south rim, giving those who don't want to trek the Bright Angel Trail (or should we call it the Dark Fallen Angel Trail instead), an option to enjoy the canyon as well.
The next morning we drove through the Grand Canyon on our way to Lake Powell/Glen Canyon, we entered through the South Rim, and exited from the East Rim, giving us a second opportunity to take in last minute views of the Canyon. We stopped at the Desert View Tower vista point just before the East Rim exit, which was definitely worth the stop. We were suppose to stay two nights, but decided to check out Lake Powell/Glen Canyon instead before reaching Monument Valley. Our overall recommendation - one day in the Canyon is sufficient (check the box).
May 22-May 23
We left Sedona literally at the crack of dawn (5:30 am) to begin our trip to the long awaited