3/18/14 to 3/21/14
Grand Canyon backpacking –
Morning arrived and it was finally time for the hike! This was the part of the road trip we were most looking forward to. Our itinerary:
- Day 1: Down the South Kaibab trail to Phantom Ranch – all the way down to the Colorado River – to the Bright Angel Campground for the night
- Days 2 & 3: Shorter hike along the river, up to the lowest plateau to camp for two nights at Indian Garden Campground
- Day 4: The toughest day, hiking back up to the rim
We woke, packed our remaining items, and had breakfast at the hotel. We were in a bit of a hurry since there were only three hiker express shuttles from the lodge to the trailhead – we had to be on one of them. The first two weren’t happening (for us, at least) and making the third was going to be close by the time we were finished with breakfast. Driving into the park we got lucky and found parking spots right by Bright Angel trailhead – this is where we’d be coming up in four days. We caught the hiker express and thirty minutes later we were at the South Kaibab trailhead getting ready to head down.
The South Kaibab trail is 6.7 miles to the campground, dropping about 4,780’ along the way. The trail is very uneven despite constant work from the trail building crews due to the constant mule traffic. It also generally follows steep cliffs, so it can be a very unnerving first backpacking experience, especially if you have acrophobia. The South Kaibab trail also lacks water, which can be an issue in summer, but temperatures were barely above freezing when we started, although it warmed up pretty quickly as we made our way down. One interesting thing when hiking in the canyon is how much the temperature varies as you change elevation – it’s typically 20-30 degrees warmer at Phantom Ranch in the bottom as it is on the rim. Continue reading “West Coast Road Trip – Days 7-10 – Hiking the Grand Canyon”