Grand Canyon – River and Back – May 21, 2012 – Part 1 of 4

I am trying something new and just putting in links to open to the public photo albums on Facebook. Less pics in this text, but provides access to all the pictures.

Also, there will be links in the next post to one short video from the Colorado River and a short audio of insects at night at Indian Garden.

I may tighten up and get down with Flicker or something later, but seriously, how many things do i have to figure out how to use and keep track of and update?!?

Mt Humphreys Photo Set

Grand Canyon: 05/21/2012 – South Kaibab to the Colorado River to Bright Angel Trailhead

Grand Canyon: 12/06/2008 – South Kaibab to Tonto Trail West to Indian Garden to Bright Angel Trailhead  Part 1

Grand Canyon: 12/06/2008 – South Kaibab to Tonto Trail West to Indian Garden to Bright Angel Trailhead  Part 2

**Disclaimer** Hiking in general and wilderness adventures in particular can be dangerous endeavors. Know your limits and plan accordingly. If you don’t know your limits, start small and work your way up. Consider joining a hiking club! They are easy to find online or through your local backpacking shop. I should probably say something like this before every hiking entry, but really felt it was unavoidably necessary before this description of our recent Grand Canyon Adventure. We are both fine and had a super time. But – we helped a lot of folks during our trip, met a hiker in the midst of severe dehydration despite it being 9 PM, cool and dark, her having experience and being in a group of experienced hikers (they were on a Rim-to-Rim which is one of the most grueling things one can attempt in the canyon). She was so far gone that she could not eat and was barely able to drink. She had vomited several times before we came across her and her friend, and did again during our stay with them. Luckily, this was not far from a campsite and a Ranger Station – but these two had to borrow sleeping gear and remain in the Canyon for at least an overnight instead of following their plan and hiking out that night. Even ole’ Jake noted signs of minor dehydration near the end of our trip. I say that not to poke at Jake but to highlight the seriousness of the issues involved. Jake has several thousand miles ( I think about 4) of distance hiking under his belt and has hiked in the Canyon near thirty times and has done this exact loop at least 5 times. Plan, take breaks, drink loads of fluids, and eat snacks! **Disclaimer Ends**

Monday, 5/21/2012, Jake and I did a fantastic Grand Canyon Adventure! This is one that Jake has done many times, and that I have been a little afraid of since my first adventure into the Canyon, 12/06/2008. It is far too simplistic to say that the Canyon is beautiful, overwhelming, and difficult to internalize even while standing in its grandeur. That said, even amidst that unfathomable beauty, it is still possible to have a bad time. My first trip to the Canyon, while I am glad I went, it was kind of a bad time.

That 2008 hike was about 13 miles – down South Kaibab to the Tonto Trail West to Indian Garden and back out on Bright Angel Trail. I am very glad that I went, but that hike kicked me every place a fella can be kicked.

Monday’s trip was a bit more gruelingby design. The 2012 hike followed the same route with one exception. Instead of heading West on the Tonto Trail, we descended to the Colorado River, bringing the mileage up to almost 17 miles. In 08, I was in serious pain about 2 miles into the trip and suffered through every single step the rest of the way. On the final climb out of the Canyon on the well graded and relatively smooth Bright Angel Trail, my muscles were so sore that I walked about 20-30 feet at a time and often had to rest for 5 minutes in between periods of forward motion.

But much has changed from 12/08 to 05/12. I have actual trail footwear that fits and that I like! I have hiking poles! I have a “real” daypack with hydration system instead of a computer backpack crammed full of stuff! I am preparing physically and mentally for a much longer hike and have been training. It is May and not December! We planned the recent hike to do the final ascent in the dark on purpose and had all the appropriate clothing for such as opposed to getting stuck in the dark on accident in 08…

We both prepared well before leaving the house this time making only one mistake. Each of us continually forget how terrible warm-hot gatorade is and still make batches at home that won’t be used for 3-5 hours of travel time in the desert heat. We should have remembered to take powder and only mess with gatorade at water re-supply points where it can be consumed cool and lovely! But we did remember everything else.

The drive to the canyon is nice and we zoom right in with no waiting since we both have Annual National Parks passes. These give you free entry and parking to any National Park and free entry and parking to any State Parks from the issuing State (generally your state of residence). [I got this bit wrong. The passes work in many kinds of parks as listed on the link to said passes, but it seems to be only federally funded parks and not State Parks. Anywho, they are still a great deal if you do spend any time in National Parks!] In the case of the Grand Canyon, there is a dedicated lane for pre-paid/pass holders and it is like having EZPass on the highways back East.  – Over 62? $10 for a Lifetime Pass!

I am going to skip the play-by-play level of detail here, but if you are planning a trip to the Canyon, feel free to give me a holler and I can hook you up with more detail.

We started the descent about 12:30 PM. I had about 4 liters of fluid – two of water in my Camelbak and two 32 ounce Gatorades. Jake blew me out on the whole descent, but particularly the first 1.5 miles. From the Rim to Cedar Ridge is probably the most crowded section of the South Kaibab Trail. There are a few lookout points along the way, and while there is no water at any point on the South Kaibab Trail until you hit the Colorado River, many people who want to go below the Rim but do not have the time or the wherewithal for a longer trip  do the 3 mile roundtrip to Cedar Ridge.

Jake and I firmly believe in “Hike your own Hike!” and one would have to try very very hard to get lost on the Grand Canyon Corridor trails. He loves to blast through that first 1.5 down to mellower and sparser crowds of more dedicated hikers. On a day of extremes like this one, I try and hit a pace that I feel comfortable about from two angles. 1) Will this be a good pace for me for today? 2) Will I be able to hike and/or even move tomorrow if I maintain this pace today?

It should be said here, even though it is said everywhere, the South Kaibab Trail is gorgeous. It shows you more of the geological changes as you descend than you can see on Bright Angel, and it offers near constant uninterrupted views into the “main canyon” while other trails often meander through side or box canyons that offer much more limited views.

At every waypoint down to the Tipoff, I smiled and sang songs of joy inside. It was a gorgeous day. I was having an absolute blast. And I was in zero pain. No discomfort of any kind. I felt kinda like Jake. I said hello to everyone. I stopped and talked to anyone who wanted to talk. I gave a few folks advice. I gave others encouragement. I stopped each time an ascending hiker approached to take in the view and give them clear trail (which is not just polite, but the actual canyon trails’ right of way protocol). I had a big smile on inside and out.

From the Tipoff down to the River was a special and exciting time and place for me. I have heard so many stories about the Canyon and the River. I wanted to see it in 08 but could not. And being here now and feeling this way – I was happy. Most of the trail below the Tipoff is nicer than the trail above. You continue to see varied colors and different types of rock and sediment layers. The very final descent is as steep and taxing as any other of the difficult sections of the Kaibab, but you can see the river and the two suspension bridges the whole time. I was still doing fine on water supplies, but knowing that there is not only water, but treated water from a spigot waiting for you between those two bridges makes it much easier to endure.

Next Up: Interlude 1 – Critters!

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