West Coast Road Trip – Days 7-10 – Hiking the Grand Canyon

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

Day 1 – What Have We Gotten Ourselves Into?

DSCF4017We 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.

DSCF4027The 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”

West Coast Road Trip – Days 5 & 6

3/16/14

Los Angeles, CA to Joshua Tree National Park, CA.   173 miles, 3 hours.

Today we met with one of Taylor’s other cousins, Jeff, and his family, Miriam and Julian, for breakfast. It was so fun to reconnect with them since the last time we saw them they were about to get married in Mexico. We heard stories about their recent travels, how they met (how did we not know this?), and about Miriam’s trips to Joshua Tree, our next stop.

Sand Road in Joshua Tree
Sand Road in Joshua Tree

We got to Joshua tree around noon and went straight to our campsite. It was another amazing campsite – beautiful rocks, a fire pit (which we definitely went out of our way to buy wood for), and incredible surroundings. After setting up, we ventured farther into the park. Joshua Tree doesn’t offer a ton of hiking opportunities but there are a lot of great short walks around amazing rock formations. After driving part way around the main loop we took a detour on a sand road to a short hike. Continue reading “West Coast Road Trip – Days 5 & 6”