30 May 2015

Making a Dream Reality: Hiking the Grand Canyon - Day 2

Saturday, May 22nd greeted us with a grey sky. It had not rained over night and it was cold, but we had slept well in our wonderful down sleeping bags. However, it did not take long for the first droplets to start falling out of the sky again as soon as we got out of the tents. After a yummy oatmeal breakfast we quickly packed up our gear and continued our hike on the North Kaibab Trail towards the south-southwest.

About 1.5 miles from the campground we took a side trail to Ribbon Falls, a beautiful little waterfall.

Ribbon Falls - hidden behind vegetation

The thick moss blanket on the rock underneath the waterfall proves that the water is running all year round. The little pond in front of it certainly provides a nice opportunity to cool sore feet in case it is hot outside.

There they are!

Resting near Ribbon Falls

To get back onto the North Kaibab Trail there is a shortcut that would have saved us half a mile. However, it crosses through a creek which can be knee-deep at this time of the year. At 100 F/38 C, I would have grabbed my Teva sandals, tucked up my pant legs and would not have hesitated to walk through the water. But our current circumstances were a little different, so we took the regular trail.

We took frequent breaks to eat some salty snacks, drink water, set down the backpacks and to stretch our legs. Eddie had brought "Glide", an anti-blister balm to treat hot spots in order to prevent blisters. Luckily, this was the only medical treatment that several of us required those four days.

Elliott treating his feet with blister prevention balm.

Eddie and Andrew peeking over the canyon map. 

Later that morning, the weather cleared up quite nicely for a while. We kept walking south-southwest for another few miles. The canyon walls started to close in on us and we got to an area called "The Box". In this section of the canyon the 1.4-1.7 billion years old black Vishnu Schist heats up a lot in the sun and it can feel like walking through an oven. It is therefore recommended to get past this area before noon. We however did not have to worry about that.

Crossing Bright Angel Creek,
shortly after Phantom Canyon.

After a total of 7.2 miles (11.6km) that day and a descent of 1,600 ft (488m) we reached the Bright Angel Campground around noon. Eddie treated us with some yummy avocado-bacon wraps and later we enjoyed a beer at Phantom Ranch, near the campground. It had started to rain again but by that time it seemed that we had gotten used to it. The rain did not prevent us from doing a nice stroll over to the Colorado River. As it got dark, we grabbed our headlamps and did a relaxing hike on the river trail which connects the South Kaibab Trail and  Bright Angel Trail on the south side of the Colorado River and runs between the Kaibab (Black) and Bright Angel (Silver) Bridges. Too many clouds though for seeing a starry sky!


  1. Beautiful falls! Maybe it was a good thing that it didn't get hot, and you could walk through "the oven" without getting grilled. What an adventure.
    I have never heard of blister prevention balm. Does it work? I could make use of it, since I am very prone to getting them.

    1. Luckily, my feet were fine. No blisters, probably due to all the outdoor training with the right shoes/socks. Also, the other beloved activity of mine - climbing - and wearing those tight climbing shoes might have prepared my feet well. According to Guido, the anti blister balm worked well. It is meant to prevent any kind of skin rubbing or chafing from clothing and should be applied either before the activity or as soon as one feels any kind of "hot spot".

      Eddie had "Body Glide". The same maker also offers specific products for cyclists and foot specific balm. In 2012, we had bought Dr. Scholl's Blister Defense which works very similar. If you are prone to getting blisters, try it out!

  2. What beautiful waterfalls. A magical place. Living in Oregon I understand how the rain doesn't bother you after a few days.

    1. True. What frustrated me the most was the fact that the weather was really nice before and after our trip! But, what can you do? It is what it is. And we made the best out of it.