Chris and I successfully climbed up and down the Grand Canyon. We left our campsite Thursday morning around 5 am and drove to the back country office to park the rv (we were allowed to park there overnight for free) and then had to wait for the express shuttle to take us to the South Kaibab trail. We got a slightly later start than we wanted but what do you expect, Chris and I aren’t morning people.
So we started hiking, and hiking, and we saw a few people in the zone on their way up. And down further we go. Chris kept looking at the gps to calculate how far we had gone and at one point, we asked this other group if they knew how long the trail was; they said “About 6 miles.” We see the amazing views of the canyon that this trail is known for and take some pictures. We saw mules carrying people and loads down and were pretty impressed with the two restroom stops. This trail has NO water on it so we packed over 4 liters for each of us. Once we got close to 6 miles, Chris and I were like “wow this wasn’t that bad, we weren’t even that exhausted.” But oh no, that woman was very wrong.
We still had another 3 miles to go downhill. Ugh! By this point, Chris was carrying the big pack and I was carrying the backpack. We switched on and off the first few miles but my knee was started to get weak. Having a trekking pole saved my life when it came to getting up and down the canyon. (I bought mine for 30 dollars the day before but we found out later that you can rent them for $2 a pole per day. Definitely rent them if you are going to do this hike!)
The sun started to get hotter and our stops became slightly more frequent. Yes we did get passed by a 15 year old boy hiking by himself (we think he was a boy scout trying to get a badge or something because he was hauling ass) And around 10:30 we were passed by this guy who was heading up the mountain. He stopped in our shady rest area and told us how he had ran down the bright angel trail and was now running up this trail AND he had left the same time we did in the morning. Some of these people are nuts; they made me feel really out of shape.
Finally, around noon, we made it to the tunnel that leads to the bridge. We had finally made it down. We cross the bridge thinking we were there but oh no, there is another MILE walk to the Phantom Ranch! Chris and I decided early on that we were going to go straight to Phantom Ranch and buy a 4 dollar cold beer to celebrate as soon as we got down. So we dunked our heads in water and slowly started to make our way uphill. We got our beers, 2 Tecate’s each, carried down the canyon by mule. We also got some bagels because we were too tired to make our freeze dried meals.
After our beers, we went and checked out the campsites by the creek. It was sooo hot that the temperature was 105 but felt like 125 in the sun. All of the full shade sites were gone so we took a half shade site that had 4 trees for us to tie our jungle hammocks too. (tents are way too heavy to carry down, and the ground is way too uncomfortable to sleep on so the hammocks were perfect) We sat in the creek and drank some wine, so we could be cool and do what my parents did when they hiked down, even though we didn’t hike down and up in one day (Sitting in the creek is what EVERYONE does down there. It is too hot to be anywhere else so all the hikers just sit in this 2 foot deep cold clear creek until the sun sets).
Chris set up his hammock and then accidentally fell asleep before setting up mine. I tried to go sleep on a picnic table in the shade but it didn’t work too well. I ended up sitting in the river for another 2 hours until he woke up. We made freeze dried lasagna which was actually pretty tasty. After dinner, we decided to go for a walk (and no we aren’t crazy, we just wanted to see the Colorado River) So we went and sat on a different bridge overlooking a rapid and then went to the sandy beach once the sun set. The stars down there were breathtaking. I have never seen stars that clearly in my life. And the weirdest part of the beach was that bats were flying 6 inches over our head as we laid there.
We started to get sleepy so we went to leave and Chris realized that he had left his knife in the sand. We had brought only one head lamp and after skimming the beach, we realized it must have gotten buried. This was a knife Chris has had since he was little so after some digging, we finally found it. By this point it was 9:45 and we had to get back to the ranch store to try and get mole skin for my blisters and a few other things. Unfortunately, by the time we hiked up there, it was closed. We flashed our light in and a woman opened a window asking if we needed anything. We convinced her to let us in to just buy the mole skin.
We went back to our campsite and made a second freeze dried meal, beef teriyaki, climbed in our hammocks and went to sleep for a few hours. The people next to us got up at 2:30 and our alarm went off at 3:30……nooo thank you. We were way too tired to get up then. Around 4, Chris gets out and convinces me to get out of bed. We packed up our gear, ate freeze dried scrambled eggs (yuck they were horrible, I didn’t eat any, I had a granola bar.)
We get on the Bright Angel Trail around 5 am, about 2 hours later than they recommended. So we hike and hike and the trail is completely different than the trail we took down. This one passes by a few creeks and actually had a few trees at the beginning.
We were making pretty good time and filled up with water and the 3 different watering stations. By the time we reached 3 mile (3 miles from the top) we started to see a lot a day hikers and people that were WAY less tired than we were. The next mile and a half took us an hour and a half to complete. It was starting to get very hot and very steep. We made it though with the help on this family who gave us some trail mix to help replenish our salt.
We got a mile from the top and I couldn’t go any further because I felt very sick. I had only eaten 300 calories that day and my body literally had no energy left to burn. One of our fellow friendly hikers gave me a bag of trail mix that had 900 calories, enough to boost up my energy so we could make it to the top. By the time we were close, we were stopping about every 200 feet because we were soo hot and tired. But guess what…WE MADE IT!!
After we made it out, we were sooo exhausted and looked pretty awkward and dirty compared to the rest of the tourists. (We were pretty much stumbling around using our walking sticks for guidance) We had NO desire to walk the mile to our car so we waited in a line for about 15 minutes to eat some ice cream. We sat on the ground and ate while turning our cell phones back on and calling home. The ice cream gave us some energy so we went in the store right there to buy our shirts that say we hiked the Grand Canyon. Still carrying our packs and half delusional from exhaustion, we head off in search of our rv. We couldn’t really remember were the backcountry office was so we just stumbled on the railroad tracks (we remembered we parked right by them) And Yay we made to the rv and everything was still in tack. We throw our gear in and decide that we want some Wendys, which is about ten minutes away.
I decide to drive since Chris was even more tired than me because he had to carry the huge pack all the way up. About 2 minutes down the road, the rv started smoking. We stop immediately blocking traffic and Chris diagnoses the problem as an old wire that had come loose. He pulled it out and the smoke went away. 3 minutes later down the road, the rv started sputtering and oops we had run out of gas. Stopping traffic again, we filled up our tank with the 3 gallon reserve we kept bungee corded on the back. All we wanted some fooooddd. We had to stop at the nearest gas station and had to buy gas for 4.69!!!!!! After that, we ordered 17 dollars worth of Wendy’s from the dollar menu. Delicious!
We were tired and sore but knew we wanted to try and make it to Sedona that night since it was only 2 hours away. I start driving and we were off to Lo Lo Mai rv park in Sedona.