Trip Start Nov 23, 2009
Trip End Mar 01, 2010

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Howard Johnson

Flag of United States  , Arizona
Saturday, January 9, 2010

The canyon rim looms high in the sky 3000 feet above us. It appears to be very close but we know will need to follow 4.8 miles of the zigzag trail up the trough and beyond to gain that elevation.  

We wake before dawn and debate if we should get an early start on the trail. The ranger lady suggested getting out before the trail thaws and turns sloppy. . Naw, we will wait and load our packs in the daylight and take the time enjoy a warm breakfast. We know we will be in the shade most of the day. It felt maybe 5 degree colder at Indian Gardens during the night than at the river. The sky is clear and there is no wind. Another great day for hiking. There are two rest houses on the route that breaks the trail into roughly 3 equal sections. The first third is on dry trail with snow on the edges, 

We start out at quarter to nine, happy we will do this day on refreshed legs. We bid adieux to our neighbors from New York and take a steady pace up.  It does not take long before the switchbacks begin. We begin to cross paths with day hikers coming down from the rim. We take a moment to chat with many of them. It is a good excuse to take a breather. At the first rest house we relax for 15 minutes or so and snack on our trail mix and feed the birds (not suppose to do that.) We look back and see how much we have climbed. Then we look up and see how much we have yet to accomplish. The trail here has snow pack and it is time to put on the crampons.

As we get closer to the rim, the day hikers we pass are more casual about the walk off the rim than the serious ones from below. There are also more and more of them. This is a sure sign that our destination is near. We near the top without the sloppy trail conditions the ranger lady had warned us about. We were happy she was wrong. Perhaps the day was too cold. At the very end, we reach a sunny part of the trail and we rejoice. We are at the top at 2'ish and hop the shuttle bus to the Back-Country Office and reweigh our packs. We were 12 pounds lighter total after consuming fuel, food and water.

We leave the park and split a calzone at the pizza place just outside the park. A nice change from our backpacker diet. And we were starved. We drove another hour down the road and hotel-ed in Williams. Our first shower in 4 days was wonderful.
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