Sept 2014

North Rim to South Rim

We decided to mix things up this time! As if 18 miles wasn't enough, we decided on 6 more miles by starting at the north rim and hiking to the south rim. Yes, all in one day! Here's what the overall looks like on a map:

Starting at the top is the North Kaibab, we ended the hike on the bottom left trail - Bright Angel Trail. If you could slice through the grand canyon sideways, the hike looks like this:

It all got started innocently enough - picking Herb up at an "I could sleep in" time of 9 AM. Took the usual drive up the 15 to Barstow where we stopped for lunch. Departing after lunch, I got ready to take a picture of my favorite signs just as we take the on-ramp to the 40E:

The weather was hot but amazingly clear as we looked out over the Mojave Desert:

I spent a lot of time at the Ft Irwin National Training Center in the Mojave. At a rest area, there was this plaque honoring a million soldiers training for WWII.

Lots of room out in the Mojave, that's for sure:

The drive was uneventful but as we drove further into Arizona, the weather was giving us great views:

The drive to Williams seemed to go rather quickly and when we got there, the place was hopping!

People were EVERYWHERE! We've never seen so many people in town like this. Took a couple of hours but we finally figured out that we're 6 weeks earlier than our normal time we'd be in town. In the fall, we're usually hiking the end of Oct, sometimes as late as the second week of Nov.

Since we were a day earlier than our previous trips, we had Friday morning to play tourist. Well, we slept in first! We went to the Grand Canyon to take a look around at spots we've never seen before. Our first stop was Mather Point.

The view from here was totally amazing! We could see parts of South Kaibab Trail; one rest house (red arrow) and parts of the trail right before it takes the right turn and heads down towards the Colorado River.

When you've hiked down South Kaibab trail, you'll use the black bridge to cross the Colorado River. That's a loooooooooong way as the condor flies!

Using extreme zoom, this is Phantom Ranch - the green spot in the middle of the picture. That's mile 13 from the start of the North Rim.

That's me!

This is my partner in hiking crime, elite ultra endurance athlete - Herb!

How clear was it across the Grand Canyon? Clear enough to see Mount Trumball. Look closely in the yellow box and you can see the mountain. Mt. Trumball is 62 miles away in a straight line!

Moving our way down towards the Bright Angel trail head, all the green is Indian Gardens. We'll be there in the late afternoon.

View looking at the North Rim. It's sorta in the middle of the photo. It's about 18 miles as the condor flies.

This marks the end of our hike, it just won't be as light out.

At 1300 hours (that's 1 PM for you civilians) we boarded our shuttle van for the 5 hour drive to the North Rim. This is the Little Colorado River; also known as the Confluence.

I don't remember the name of this bridge but it's just past halfway to the North Rim.

The drive started to become more scenic. Green open pastures, deer, and bison!

As we approach dinner time, we arrive at the North Rim.

Yeah, almost 9000 feet! Clean, crisp, clear air. After passing through the ranger station there was a jay-walker !!

I teenage boy bison. He made his way across the road rather quickly. I decided staying out of the way is probably best. We checked-in at the North Rim Lodge to get our cabin and I saw this Zenith radio. I can just imagine people staying at the North Rim in the 1940s listening to this radio. It was their only connection to the outside world.

360 degree panoramic during sunset at the North Rim.

Sunset was moving quickly.

At 9000 feet altitude a bag of chips can almost open on their own.

Inside our North Rim cabin.

This radio was also in the lodge. It's a Zenith Coronado which I think is battery operated. Nothing you could buy today, it required 32 volt battery.

Morning always comes fast at the Grand Canyon. Here's the elite taking a selfie an the North Rim trail head.

The North Kaibab trail head. It looks so easy - right?

No bikes?!?!?! Would be fun on the downhill!

Sunrise at Coconino Overlook.

Looking back up at the North Rim. Plenty of green trees, very different than the South Kaibab trail.

Traveling through Supai Tunnel.

Yes, we hiked down all that trail.

Sometimes we see the strangest things in the rocks.

As we hiked down, there were quite a few bridges.

Sometimes the trail was sane.

Alien hiker - you'll never know who or what you'll meet/see in the Grand Canyon!

Fossils... After 200+ miles of hiking through the Grand Canyon, I've still not found a trilobite!

Grand Canyon zipline. These things are everywhere!

Plenty of water on the north trail.

Long distance canyon to somewhere...

Just hiking along and found one of these! A few minutes later, we met the pilot, ranger, and medic. We found out later that a woman had to be flown out due to heat stroke and dehydration.

Yes, it was hot out. This part of the north trail is out in the open. No shade and at 11:29, sun is beating down.

More water, nice stream providing background music while hiking.

More bridges...

Creek getting wider means we're getting closer to the bottom.

13 miles later, we've arrived!

Relaxing at Phantom Ranch.

We stopped for about an hour, had something to eat, and plenty to drink. It was 98 degrees now, but it was a dry heat. We started heading towards the Bright Angel Trail. We crossed the Silver Bridge and I started to notice i wasn't feeling too good.

By the time we made it to Phantom Ranch, I drank 275 ounces of water and electrolyte. I could prove to anyone I was well hydrated! :) Symptoms felt flu like; which isn't good when we have 7 miles of stair climbing to go. I thought this was due to eating solid food when it was so hot out, so I stayed hydrated and on liquid fuels. The plan was RFM - Relentless Forward Motion; slow but sure. Our pace was about 1 mile per hour.

On our way to Indian Gardens we met this interesting gentleman. This is his 8th trip in the Grand Canyon and wears a shirt and tie. The tie is a United States Marine Corps tie and he hikes this in the honor of his son who's on deployment.

We made it to Indian Gardens around 5 PM. This time of year, it's well known to have monsoonal rains and we got one. We decided to stay put while the lightening and thunder rattled through the canyon. There was 2 seconds between lightening and thunder. Got some rain which helped cool things down. Like any soldier, I sat at the picnic table, wrapped my arms around my pack and took a short nap.

I felt better, the weather tied us up for about 45 minutes. It was starting to get dark so we broke out our night gear. Herb noticed I was accelerating then having to stop. He took the lead and showed me the Kimpel Shuffle. More slow but sure but I stopped accelerating. We made our way to the 3 mile rest house and stopped for about 30 minutes. Off we went into the night. There are plenty of switchbacks and when we switched we came upon a guy sitting in my lounge chair! There's this lounge chair made out of rocks, it's rather comfortable. Herb asked if he was OK and he mumbled something about his friends and family leaving him behind. I couldn't believe it. So we got him on his feet, got him drinking, and shuffle along with us. He said he started from the north rim too. We had less than 2 miles to the top. I'm still suffering like a dog but the good news is, it's not getting worse. After we shuffled for some time, the guy's phone rang. It was his wife and I could hear her crying on the phone with him. She wanted to hike down and help him. Herb and I were saying no, don't come down here. He's talking to her that he's with us and we're making progress.

As we hike towards the first little tunnel, we come upon 3 woman sitting on rocks. We stop and find out it's a mom, her teenage daughter with her friend. Mom isn't doing so well, she sounds how I'm feeling but worse. We got her on her feet, watered, and got her poles out. All three joined us in the "Pain Train" with me in the lead and Herb pulling up the rear. We'd shuffle along talking. Sometimes the guy would need a break, sometimes mom, sometimes me.

We shuffled along some more and we could see a flashlight on the hillside. Once again, the guy's phone rings! We sat down on some rocks and he talked with her. If we listened carefully, we could hear her voice directly! He asked her to flash her light. She did and yes, it was her! She was at the second tunnel, so we knew we were close. 15 minutes later, we meet up with the wife; they've been married about 5 months. She was totally distraught but glad to see her new husband.

We finally arrived at the top to the applause of waiting family members. They thanked us for getting their family up to the top. Shucks, we were headed in the same direction anyway. :)

By far, it was the toughest time I've ever had at the Grand Canyon. It was almost midnight when we finished. It was cool out and we were exhausted. All that's left to say for this hike:

We always have breakfast out our favorite cafe.

The drive home was interesting. Dust devils everywhere!

We stopped for lunch and on our way out we saw these interesting tombstone like monuments. We were in Arizona, so maybe they were?

Taking a much closer look, these are Tesla charging stations. I've seen about a dozen of the vehicles but never a charging station. Notice the logo in the plug.

Ok, now it's "The End"