Here are the highlights of a conversation I had a while back with my friend Lynn:
Susan: Hiking the Grand Canyon is on my bucket list.
Lynn: Really? That’s such an easy one. We can totally make that happen.
And just like that, we set our plans to hike the Grand Canyon in motion.
Lynn applied for our permit last fall. When you hike in the backcountry of Grand Canyon and most other National Parks, you have to get a permit. We applied for several dates this Spring – before the Canyon gets too hot and close to Lynnie’s birthday – and we got March 28-April 1. Lynn planned for us to hike down the South Kaibab trail and back up Bright Angel trail, with two nights at Bright Angel Campground, near the Colorado River, and one night at Indian Garden.
Just ignore the left half of this diagram.
Lynn, Chris, and I were in, along with James, Sarah, and Aaron – friends from Clemson – and Clayton and Tonya – friends of Lynn from Durango. All we had left to do was make our travel arrangements, figure out our backpacking gear, and try to guess how much food we’d need for four days in the Canyon (all of us save for Lynn are pretty novice backpackers).
Chris and I flew to Phoenix on Wednesday. We picked up the rental car, grabbed James from his arrival terminal, and headed up to the Canyon. It was a long day, including a 2.5 hour drive to Norfolk to catch our flight, a long layover in Nashville (but the BBQ in the airport was amazing), a medical emergency (the passenger in the row in front of me) on our second leg to Phoenix, and a 3.5 hour drive up to the Park. By the time we arrived at 12:30am (3:30am our time – I’d forgotten that AZ doesn’t do daylight savings time), we were exhausted, but pretty pumped about what the next day would bring.
Still cheerful at the Nashville airport
On Thursday morning we had a leisurely breakfast, picked up a few last minute items, and got our gear all ready to go (an ordeal in itself for most of us). We drove to the Visitor’s Center, caught the shuttle to the South Kaibab trailhead, and at about 12:15 we were ready to start on the 7 mile hike down.
Waiting for the shuttle
At the South Kaibab Trailhead
The South Kaibab trail is very open, with lots of switchbacks, a steep grade, and tons of amazing views. We stopped a bunch of times to eat, watch the wildlife, snap photos, and take in the awesome sights. I loved the Tonto Platform – the wide open, green section of the Canyon right above the narrower Inner Gorge where the Colorado runs. Back and forth we went, down down down, and after several hours of hiking we finally arrived at the river. We crossed the Black Bridge and made our way over to the campground, where we said hi the Rangers, set up camp, had some dinner, and then headed to the Phantom Ranch canteen to finish off the day with a few Grand Canyon brews.
I love this photo that Clayton took.
I brought Lynnie one of the new Lays flavors
1.5 miles down…
… and already trouble with the toes.
Awesome way to carry your stuff down the trail
Some Dutch tilt action for my bro-in-law
Approaching the Tonto Platform and the Inner Gorge
The roaring Colorado
Enjoying the Canteen
And a couple more gems from Clayton… I need one of those snazzy iPhones!
Up next… hiking around the Inner Gorge.
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