The Grand Canyon trip in brief:
Friday July 8
Arrived in Phoenix, Arizona and met up with Sarah and Jeremiah at the airport. The moment we left the airport we realized it was HOT!!! We went immediately to the hotel pool. As each member of our team checked in, they too bee-lined it to the pool. It was great to catch up with Wil and Kathy and Chris and Chrissy.
Saturday July 9
Drove from Phoenix to Grand Canyon village with stops at the Cameron Trading Post for Navajo Tacos (yum!) and at various overlooks of the Little Colorado River and the beginnings of the canyon. We checked into our rooms at Maswik Lodge in Grand Canyon Village and then watched the sun set over the canyon from the Kolb Studio. We were priviledged to see bighorn sheep over the edge and several California condors flying near us and nesting as the sun set.
Sunday July 10
We did our first “practice” hike–8 miles along the Rim Trail from Hermit’s Rest back to the Village. We quickly realized the importance of hydration in 100+ temperatures. It was good to do a practice hike on the rim so we could make gear adjustments before heading into the Big Ditch.
Monday July 11
Over the edge down the South Kaibab Trail. Downhill all the way to Phantom Ranch is about 7.9 miles, I believe. We left shortly after sunrise. The South Kaibab is known for excellent views, but unfortunately it was clouded over because of wild fires on the North Rim that were pushing smoke down into the canyon. We had a first-rate education on downhill hiking–our teachers were sore calves and quadriceps, blisters, and tendonitis. We learned: go slower, use two hiking sticks, do tie those hiking boots as tight as you can to keep the toes from hitting the front, drink more, eat more salty snacks, take more ibuprofen. We were thrilled to get to Phantom Ranch and immerse our tired and overheated bodies in Bright Angel Creek.
Tuesday July 12
Up the North Kaibab Trail to the North Rim. This 14-mile trek up was the most brutal of our hiking days. By noon several people were already having difficulty with the heat and already-sore feet and legs. We were taking frequent stops but decided to stop at the private residence below Ribbon Falls for a long break for shade, food, dips in the creek and naps. We got a little carried away with our break so we didn’t leave until after 3:30 and our pace the rest of the way out of the canyon was tortuously slow. We didn’t get out of the canyon until well after dark. There was a Good Samaritan who helped us out by hauling our backpacks and most tired hiker the remaining 1.5 miles to the North Rim Lodge after we left the trailhead. We were exhausted–physically, mentally and emotionally. I cried in the shower that night.
Wednesday July 13
Rest day at the North Rim Lodge. Sarah and Chrissy decided to not make the return hike because they were exhausted and Chrissy’s feet were in bad shape. Chris also could not make the return trip because his hiking boots were incompatible with his feet resulting in severe pain in his Achille’s tendon. We hung out at the lodge most of the day with a brief walk to the camping store for some minor supplies. The North Rim is gorgeous and much less touristy. Definitely a place I would want to return to. We cut down even more weight from our packs and sent extra clothes, food, etc. back to the South Rim on the shuttle with the non-hikers.
Thursday July 14
Left at 4:30 in the morning thanks to “Betsy” who offered us a ride to the North Kaibab trailhead well before the official shuttle would go. Although we had a 14 mile return trip to Phantom Ranch, this was probably my favorite day of hiking. All the kinks and knots worked their way out of our muscles. We were a strong hiking team and feeling good. Jeremiah kept us laughing with his screw-ball sense of humor. By noon we had made it to the beautiful but hard-to-reach Ribbon Falls. We rested and rejuvenated there until 2 p.m. when there was more shade in The Box so the hike the rest of the way to Phantom was survivable. We were still grateful to arrive at Phantom Ranch at 5:45 p.m. with a few minutes to dip in Bright Angel Creek before our fabulous beef stew dinner at 6:30 p.m. The weather at Phantom Ranch was 113 in the shade and didn’t seem to cool much overnight. Thankfully the dorms have some sort of “swamp-coolers” that made it possible to sleep.
Friday July 15
We hiked out the Bright Angel Trail. This is a much more heavily-travelled trail and all the mule poop was a bit annoying but it was a gorgeous day. We made it out of Devil’s Corkscrew pretty early in the morning before it got to hot. About 9:15 we stopped at Indian Gardens for second breakfast. The climb was steep but not as tough as the South Kaibab Trail. After stopping at the 1.5 Mile rest house, we were pretty pooped. But we were excited as we neared the top because we were pretty sure we would have a welcoming committee. We randomly started yelling “Chris Miller” and were surprised to hear a response: “I’m over here!” from just a few hundred yards up the trail. Then a little later Chrissy and Sarah greeted us with a welcome sign and hugs (they’re brave women to hug such sweaty, stinky hikers). We were hot, tired, but proud to have hiked rim-to-rim-to-rim. Unfortunately there was a thunderstorm that knocked out the electricity so we couldn’t have the ice cream that we had been fantasizing about as we made it up the trail.
Saturday July 16
Rest day on the South Rim. We finally got our ice cream. We bought souvenirs and ate piles of food and tried to stay out of the sun.
Sunday July 17
Headed back to Phoenix. We made a side trip up the scenic town of Jerome for lunch. We were excited to be back at a hotel with a POOL! We went out for an excellent celebratory steak dinner. What a great group of people to have spent a week with. We were all sorry to say goodbye.
Monday July 17
Nate and I were NOT sorry to say goodbye to the 100+ temperatures and were thrilled to return to good old temperate Portland. It was a hot day for Portland (92) but it felt cool to us! We love Portland. The Grand Canyon is beautiful and vast and majestic, but give me wet, green, cool hiking trails and I’m a happy girl!