01 June 2015

Making a Dream Reality: Hiking the Grand Canyon - Day 4

On the 4th and final day of our hike we got up at dawn, had a quick oatmeal breakfast and hit the trail early. To get to the South Rim, we still had 4.9 miles (7.9km) and an elevation gain of 3,060 feet (933m) ahead of us. We had eaten most of our supplies during the last days which had made our backpacks much lighter. Thankfully!

Leaving Indian Garden Campground.

Prickly Pear Cacti along the Bright Angel Trail

The first mile or two felt comparably easy. I kept turning around, looking back at the foggy, mysteriously looking cliffs behind me. Then the trail became steeper and led through "Jacob's Ladder", an area of red rock switchbacks. When we reached the Three-Mile Resthouse at 4,700 feet, I was not unhappy to set down my pack, eat some snacks and enjoy the view.

View from Three-Mile Resthouse onto Bright Angel Trail.

Somewhere between the Three-Mile Resthouse and the Mile-and-a-Half Resthouse we took another break. Any food eaten now would not require to get hauled uphill any further. So, let's scarf it up!

These furry guys were all over the place, waiting to be fed which is of course illegal and not advised, or hoping for us to accidentally drop some food. Well, they did not have any luck with us. Not on the trail nor at the campgrounds where we always kept our food secured in metal boxes provided at each campsite.

We had a nice view onto the upper section of "The Battleship", a massive red rock formation which lies at the base of Maricopa Point.

One last stop at the Mile-and-a-Half-Resthouse at 5,700 feet, and we were ready to attack the last remaining series of switchbacks.

Almost at the top of the South Rim: Guido, at the 275 million years old Coconino Sandstone layer which is also referred to as the "Bathtub Ring". Can you find him on the picture? ;-)

We made it!!
A total of 23.5 miles (37.8km) through the canyon, those additional day hikes not included;
A total descent of 5,761 feet (1757m) and an elevation gain of 4,380 feet (1335m).

So much planning, thinking and specific training went into this trip and now it is history. Although it started quite miserable and wet, we enjoyed it a lot overall. It all went very well, maybe except for two small blisters at Guido's feet and some minor knee and ankle issues. And although we are not 25 anymore, we had no trouble with such a strenuous activity.

Eddie, our guide, did an excellent job during those four days. Amazingly he never lost faith in the weather and that it would clear up. Finally on the last day he was right. If you consider doing such a guided tour, check out the Wildland Trekking Company. They also provide the camping gear, all the food and a shuttle from Flagstaff to the canyon and back. As we had our own gear from the trip originally planned in 2012, we decided to only use their sleeping pads. To hike the Grand Canyon individually and not with a group, I found the "Hikernut's Grand Canyon Companion" by Brian J. Lane very helpful for preparation. And the best thing after four days in the canyon: the first hot shower!!

On our flight back home Guido said that he enjoyed this adventure and would do it again. But in good weather! Aha, let's see. :-)