Sunday, April 24, 2011

Grand Canyon (Rim to River Hike)

South Kaibab to Bright Angel Loop
Grand Canyon National Park
Mileage - 17.3
Time - 5:32
AEG - 4500ft

The Zane Grey 50 is in the books, less than a week later I found myself back on the trail "chasing the dragon" so to speak after last weekend's race. This seems to be a reoccurring theme with me these days...trying to outdo the previous adventure, which now requires more thought and a little more driving.

My plan to visit the park changed when the original group I arranged decided to make Sedona their destination of choice, so I scrambled at the last minute to salvage this trip. I called a friend and fitness center member named Bob, and before I could get the words out of my mouth, his answer was yes! He had yet to hike or even see the canyon before Saturday. Cool, I had one taker. I reached out to several other friends that could handle the hiking mileage, since it was already Thursday, the only person available to make a three man team was Mark (a canyon veteran). Before I knew it, we were on the road at 4:00am Saturday morning.

The three of us arrived on a relatively quiet and free weekend at Grand Canyon NP, ready and eager to hike as soon as possible. We parked the car, caught a ride on the shuttle bus and began the descent on South Kaibab a touch after 9:00am. The views were spectacular, especially at this time of the day as the sun illuminated the entire landscape. Bob was ecstatic, like a little kid at Disney, and we were glad to share this experience with him. The trek to the river was really pleasant, having a partly cloudy sky was nice and the ever-changing sights and sounds made a two hour journey seem like twenty minutes. Crossing the Colorado over the suspension bridge is probably my favorite part of this hike, the river is so wild and powerful, it really gives you an idea how the canyon was created.

A relaxing thirty minute lunch break felt great under the canopy of cottonwood trees at Phantom Ranch, where the only noise was the sound of the wind and rushing water at a nearby stream. OK, time to hydrate and refill the camelbaks before the ten mile climb out of the canyon on the Bright Angel Trail. The three of us set a great pace and continually marched uphill for a solid three hours. Minimal crowds and no mule trains made the hike that much more enjoyable as we reached the rim around 3:00pm, giving us plenty of daylight to set up camp and cook dinner before dark. All around, this was one of the funnest and most memorable hiking trips I have been on in the past couple years. We had a's going to be tough to top this one!

-A stunning view of the canyon, photo taken on Bob's iphone

-Mark and Bob goofing around on the South Kaibab Trail

-Boone descending on the South Kaibab trail

-Boone and Mark leading the trek out of Phantom Ranch

-Boone on the suspension bridge over the Colorado River

-On the bridge heading out of Phantom Ranch

-Bright Angel Trail looking North over the canyon

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