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Grand Canyon, Part I: Going down is optional

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Photo post of our Grand Canyon trip, part one – the way down.  Part two, coming back up, to come tomorrow!

If you’d like to see our full album of pics, check out our Smugmug album.  Highlights with captions are below; click on any of the pictures for a larger version.

Last week, on Tuesday and Wednesday we hiked into and out of the Grand Canyon.  I’d done this once before but it was a first for Seth.  It’s like no other hike I’ve ever done in that there are incredible, ever-changing views from top to bottom.  And because you can take a different trail into the canyon than the one you take out, you get to experience many diverse areas of the GC that most people never see.

When we started, it was a beautiful wintry day.  It snowed ~5 inches the day before but the forecast on Tuesday was for partly cloudy skies and no precipitation.  Here we are at the top of the Kaibab Trail, the most popular route down.  It’s about a 7 mile hike on Kaibab from the top of the rim to the campground & ranch at the bottom.

Kaibab Trailhead

I came to regret starting off with that winter coat.  I really only needed it for the first hour of the hike, and for a little bit at night, and the rest of the time it was just extra weight in my pack.

(click the link for more photos!)

Snowy Start

The top of the trail was snowy but easy to hike on.  After that it turned to mud, then finally dried up and was clear most of the way down.

Approaching Cedar Point near the top of the Kaibab Trail.

A beautiful spot for lunch - Cedar Point

Blue skies on the Kaibab

That squiggly line next to Seth’s head is the trail down.

First glimpse of the mighty Colorado from the Kaibab trail


Crossing the Colorado on the Black Bridge

The Colorado

We made it down!

We got to the bottom of  the 7 mile trail in about 4 hours (including breaks). Once we hit the lower elevation, we still had to trek a bit to get to Phantom Ranch, our home for the night.

It’s about 20 degrees warmer at the bottom of the canyon than the top.  So while it was snowy and chilly on the rim, over 5,000 feet below it was a balmy spring afternoon.

Trail to Phantom Ranch

Phantom Ranch and the Bright Angel Campground are situated along a creek that feeds into the Colorado

Entrance to Phantom Ranch

The Canteena

After checking in at the Canteena, the all-purpose supply shop, kitchen, restaurant, bar, gaming room and social hub of Phantom Ranch, we were given the keys to our cabin.  A cozy 4-bed room with a toilet and sink, and hot showers across a short path – felt almost too luxurious to be deserved!

Our home for the night, Cabin #6

Cabin Interior

Cabin Interior

Cabin Interior

Happy customers at Phantom Ranch

Staying at Phantom Ranch was an incredibly indulgent way to rest from the trip down, and restore for the walk back out the next day.  After eating our dinner of cold cuts and pb&j (they do serve steak or stew dinners at the Ranch, but being budget-minded we opted to skip it), we went to hear Ranger AJ give a talk on geology & why the Grand Canyon exists.  It was kind of like science class, but in the best possible way – lessons told sitting in the heart of the subject at hand.  He ended with “The Colorado River is a part of all of us.  And I don’t mean in a metaphysical, oh I hiked the canyon and now it’s part of me, way…” …and then proceeded to make the connection between how the Colorado irrigates most of California & Arizona’s farmlands, and if anyone eats any lettuce or greens in the winter, well, those were grown because of the Colorado.

Back at the Canteena, we tried to play some card games but found our shared game knowledge sorely lacking (we’ll need to fix that before the world trip).  The highlight was talking to one of the ranch employees – he lives there 10 days on / 4 days off and spoke of life “on the rim” as if it were another country, which it pretty much is.  At the bottom of the canyon, all supplies, food and mail are delivered in and out by mule packs, and time flows on its own course.

We settled in early, happy to be in cozy warm beds before the walk out (as the rangers call it).  More photos to come tomorrow!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Sunday, March 27, 2011 1:21 am

    1. love reading this
    2. more food discussion always welcome
    3. enjoying vicariously living this trip

    • Kristen permalink*
      Sunday, March 27, 2011 7:45 am

      AG, noted on the food talk. For this part of the trip we made 2 grocery stops and got salami, cheese, peanut butter, bread & apples… and snagged some jelly packets from the cafeteria. that was pretty much our food for the good part of 3 days.


  1. Grand Canyon, Part II: Going Up is Mandatory « world travels & tales

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