Grand Canyon

Trip Start May 11, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Arizona
Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Well we weren't sure what to expect when we got here as we had already seen a gaping hole in the ground at Canyonlands and loved the colours in Bryce so we thought nothing could amaze us now. Well we were right. ha! The Grand Canyon is pretty cool and it's absolutely gargantuan, but it was pretty hazy so details weren't great and from every direction you could see at in, the view looked the same. There were a lot of tourists here once again because it's easily accessable by car or giant arsed house on wheels (RV). We got ourselves a camp spot and raced down to the backcountry office to try and get a permit to hike down into the canyon and camp there. There's only a certain amt of spots available and there's always a race to get them. The first spot available was 3 days away or we could take a number and come back in the morning and try to get a spot the day after that. We decided to go back in the morning as we were only 5th in line. For the rest of the day we looked around at the view and did laundry and ate our packet pasta. That night the coyotes woke us up around midnight barking and howling at each other - they were really close and Ben said he'd heard something big sniffing around the campsite earlier. The next morning we raced down to the backcountry office and got a spot for the next morning. We spent the rest of the day hiking the rim which was fun at first, but it's 11 miles in the sun looking down at the Canyon below. We decided to have a few beers in the Bright Angel Lodge and eat something other than pasta!!! Then we packed up our gear for the early start the next morning and went to bed at sunset.
The next morning We got an early start and parked at the BC office so we could catch a shuttle that would take us to the Kaibab Trailhead direct. It's a special hiker service that goes at 5am, 6am & 7am. We hit the trail at 7.30 and I even had hired some hiking poles to see what they were like. Everyone uses them these days and they're supposed to take 15% of the strain on your knees away. The trail was 7 miles down a decently steep and dusty trail part of which was covered in donkey shit and piss and stunk terribly. There's no water stops on the way down and one toilet break. Towards the bottom you get really close to the Colorado River and the people that raft it. The water comes from the bottom of the Glen Canyon Dam (Lake Powell) and is freezing. It's so cold that the native fish died and now only cold tolerant trout and such can live in it. The colour has also changed from red (which is why the Indians named it Colorado) to a pretty blue. We got down to the campsite at 11am just in time for it to get desperately hot and opressive. The heat at the bottom of the Grand Canyon is about 20 degrees hotter than up top. I had to get out of the sun. The campsites are next to a creek and the area is partly shaded. The Phantom Ranch is where the people who go down on donkeys (the filthy bastards) stay. It's a small lodging with a snack bar where I was forced to drink lemonade when all I wanted was an ice cold coke. It also closes for 4 hours before dinner and there is absolutely nothing to do in the 95 degree heat. So we almost went crazy with boredom. We tried to go for a walk, but it was too hot. We sat by the creek and splashed ourselves and wished we'd brought a book or i-pod or anything. We decided to eat twice and go to bed as soon as it cooled down enough to fight boredom.
Suprisingly we fell asleep easily without the fly on and were up at 4am to pack up and cook with our headlamps on. We were on the move by 4.45am and it was lightening up enough for us not to need artificial light.
We were hiking a loop so we hiked up on the Bright Angel Trail which is not the one we came down on. It's not as steep, but it's 9 miles. Most people apparently take 7+ hours and I was dreading the sun coming out. We made good time reaching the 1/2 way point in 2 hours. Ben was way ahead and I was stopping sometimes to take pictures or look at wildlife. It was a pretty hike and not too steep at all. We had a Clif bar and rested for 5 mins before going the rest of the way. Ben raced ahead and I trudged up slowly using my poles to keep me going. It didn't get too bad until the sun hit me and my energy levels dropped off. I stopped frequently for minute long breaks for water before taking off again. Some people told me Ben was way ahead. When I rounded that corner and saw the last few switchbacks to the lodge I was renewed and energetic. Ben made it by 9am and I got up around 10am. So I was happy with 5 hours. It was so dry that my nose started bleeding as soon as I was done.
Our legs were so tired and we were dusty and sweaty and couldn't wait to get outta there. We caught the bus to our car as I didn't want to walk anymore and soon enough we were on our way to Flagstaff.
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