Be prepared for a long post all….
On Oct 14 we woke up to 35 degree weather but totally ready to hit the trail! We started to descend the North Kaibab trail head at about 8:15 a.m. Not 10 minutes later from when this photos was taken, I removed all my layers and rolled my pants up. It got hot fast. The hike was a total of 6.8 miles with 4200 feet elevation change. We took several short breaks and arrived at Cottonwood Campground around 12:45 and temperature read 81 degrees. The trail was absolutely beautiful but scary! Many times we were right on cliffs edge, which was unnerving for me given my fear of heights. One thing Jake and I found really amazing was the drastic changes in vegetation as you make your way to the bottom. They say that for every 1000 feet in elevation change it is as if you were driving south towards mexico 300 miles. Pretty amazing!
The canyon gets dark early (5:30) so we had an early dinner and were out cold by 8:00 p.m. that night. We slept without a rain fly the entire trip and it was fun to wake up at 1:30 in the morning as the moon crept over the canyon walls and my calves screamed in pain from the hike earlier!
The next morning we got up at 5:30 to pack up camp and head out on our longest hike. It was supposed to reach 90 degrees that day so we wanted to be out earlier to avoid hiking in the hottest part of the day.
This part of the hike was in.the.canyon. There were literally canyon walls on both sides as we hiked right next to the stream. Little did we know the heat was going to be the least of our worries. I woke up with calves in huge knots. For some reason this translated into a very uncomfortable pain (couldn’t bear weight on it!) on the outside of my left knee. Although I didn’t tell this to Jake, I was a tiny bit worried I may not make it out. Thank goodness for advil and hiking poles.
We arrived at Phantom Ranch at 11:00 a.m. after a 7 mile hike. After a lazy couple of hours we decided to take a 2 mile hike down to the Colorado River.
Who know it looked like chocolate milk!? One thing Jake forgot to mention was that this hike crossed, not 1, but 2 suspension bridges! Ahh! I practically ran across those things. After all that excitement, I was famished. The wonderful about staying at Bright Angel Campground at Phantom Ranch is that there are amenities there – like a canteen. With beer. HEAVEN!
Not only was there beer but there was also air conditioning and Snickers. I don’t even like Snickers but it tasted so good! Phantom Ranch also offers rangers hikes, self-guided history tours, and breakfast, lunch, and dinner if you wish. We spent two nights here and definitely could have spent more time. We did a couple short hikes, ranger talks, and the self-guided history tour and spent lots of time lounging in the warm sun and reading books. One thing I learned quickly at Phantom Ranch was that if I wore my headlamp on my head the bats would literally swoop at me. After one close call, I quickly moved my headlamp to my wrist. Ekkk! Side note: By this point we had been on day 5 without showers. I wrote in my journal: “I found myself feeling a little self-conscious around all the showered and make-uped people at the canteen. Our hair will stand up in whatever way you shape it!”.
On Oct 17th we hiked from Bright Angel Campground to Indian Garden. I woke up on the wrong side of the air mattress and was a bit crank for at least half of our 5 mile hike. Thank goodness Jake is patient. We climbed 1200 ft this day and, once again, the views were spectacular!
Later that afternoon I noticed I was freezing and my throat was hurting. I was so happy we saved the lentil soup, beef stew, and tea for our last day! That combined with a bed time of 6:30 p.m. had me waking up refreshed and ready to climb out of the canyon. One more goofy journal musing: “I have started to master the art of pulling the flimsy toilet paper off the wall. The compostable pit toilets have very thin toilet paper. Every time I try and pull it off the roll I get tiny little pieces. Even when I do get a few decent sized pieces I get urine all over my hands. Jake has finally taught me the proper angle with which to pull the paper to get a substantial wad with some success!”. Oh the things that amuse after being in the wilderness for several days!
On Oct 18th we headed up the trail 3000 ft and 4.5 miles. We were both so anxious for a shower we were up and hiking at 7:00 a.m.!
We made it to the South Rim at 9:45 a.m. on a high that only comes after realizing you traveled all the way across this beautiful canyon.
Stay tuned… the final leg of our trip coming soon!