Wes, Andrea, Robin, Gaelyn, Amala, Bill and Jamie
As part of my almost three weeks of training I hiked with six other Rangers across the canyon, north to south, in three days and two nights. It was 27 degrees F at 9:30am when we started down the North Kaibab Trail at 8,250 feet.
Robin in Supai Tunnel
Supai Tunnel was blasted in the 1930s. This is located almost two miles down with a drop of 1450 feet. Water and compost toilets are located just before the tunnel. Many day hikers come this far before returning to the North Rim.
North Kaibab trail to Roaring Springs
By then it was warm enough to reduce layers. I never needed those long pants or fleece again, just had to carry them. But weather can change so rapidly it’s good to be prepared.
Looking north back up to trailhead
My pack weighed about 30 pounds with just the basics, including plenty of snacks and water.
Needle’s Eye North Kaibab trail
We took the short side trail to Roaring Springs where there’s water and compost toilets. The springs pour out of the canyon walls high above and flow into Bright Angel Creek. The National Park Service does not recommend a round trip day hike beyond this point, 4.7 miles one way with a 3000 foot drop in elevation.
Gaelyn along trail
In the late 1920s, Utah Parks Company a concessionaire, built a pipeline from Roaring Springs to the North Rim to provide for all water needs. From 1965-70, another pipeline was built to the South Rim.
Trail along Bright Angel Creek
We continued to descend another two miles further to Cottonwood Camp where we stopped for the night. At this point we’d dropped about 4200 feet in almost seven miles. It sure felt good to get off my feet. Yet downhill hadn’t been too bad. Knees felt good. Just tired, a good kind of tired. Slept on the ground under the stars and could see a far off light high above from the North Rim’s Grand Lodge.
More trail along Bright Angel Creek
Up to this point we’d all hiked pretty much together. But in the morning everyone left separately and hiked at their own pace.
Bridge over Bright Angel Creek leads to Ribbon Falls
About one mile below the campground a spur trail leads to Ribbon Falls. I opted not to add any extra miles. Maybe next time.
So I continued following the creek into…
…the Box, one of the most amazing sections of the trail yet. It hugs the 1200 foot high gorge walls and crosses the creek, on bridges, several times.
Suddenly the box opens up to Phantom Ranch, an open grassy area with willows and cottonwoods. In 1907 David Rust set up the first tent houses for visitor accommodations and later in 1921 Mary Colter designed the still used Phantom Ranch facilities.
I wandered wearily into the bunkhouse and as I dropped my pack was offered a cold beer. All I heard was cold. I don’t usually drink beer, but it sure tasted good. Put up my tired feet and enjoyed the view. I had hiked almost 14 miles and dropped about 5800 feet in elevation.
View from the bunkhouse
OMG, I still had to climb out of this hole.
Please join me for Part 2 of Hiking the Grand Canyon.
I want you all to know; I was extremely nervous about this hike and had almost talked myself out of going up to the night before we left. Then another Ranger reminded me that “it’s just one step at a time.”
To hike overnight in the Grand Canyon requires permits and reservations made 3-6 months in advance. You must be prepared both physically and mentally for this adventure.
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