After Zion National Park, Mike and I headed to the Grand Canyon! We were meeting our friends there the next day, so we spent the evening at the North Rim to see the canyon from the less viewed side. It was wonderful to relax on the beautiful lodge deck with a delicious Grand Canyon beer.
We also met an amazing Park Ranger that majored in geology that typically works on the South Rim side, but was visiting this side with her mother. She gave us some great tips about other parks, as well as BLM land for us to camp at for the night that was right by the Canyon!
The next day we went to the South Rim to meet our friendsssss! I can not stress how excited I was to see them. It had been months since we had seen our best friends, and you can only go so long not seeing them, amirite?!
Months (actually, over a year) ago, our friend Nathan got reservations for his wife Jeni, their two kids, Noah and Lily, us, and our friend Liza to camp at Phantom Ranch. Now, I’ve been to the Grand Canyon before, but had never seen it from the bottom! While I was excited, I was verrrrry nervous about it. For about a week prior to this adventure, I started badgering Mike about the hike, as he had done the Rim to Rim before (well, actually he’s ran it… overachiever). “So, is this current hike similar in the steepness of the Grand Canyon trail?” “Is the trail going to be super rocky?” “How many miles do you think we’ll cover every hour?” “Do you think I can do this???”
(Spoiler alert – I could!)
So we woke up at 4am, had coffee and were on our way! This part – the going down – was not the part I was nervous about, but it was nice to get an idea of various landmarks along the way to remember when we were hiking back up. We took the Bright Angel trail, which is about 9 miles to Phantom Ranch. The first half included never-ending switchbacks but at least it stayed shady and cool to the half way point; Indian Gardens. We stopped for a snack, but didn’t linger as we wanted to get as much distance covered before the sun arrived.
We hiked through a delightful section that we nicknamed Mordor due to it’s incredible likeness and how we felt at this time, all leading us to the next landmark; the Colorado River. Mike, Nathan, Noah and Jeni dipped their toes into the ice cold water, but Liza, Lily, and I were just anxious to keep going. The trail gets pretty sandy and it was already hot at this point. We arrived to a sketchy bridge that led us to the camp! It took us just over 4 hours to hike down. The Tackett family went to their cabin, while Mike, Liza, and I picked out our campsite and set up.
The rest of the day was lounging in the river, playing games, and hanging out. There was a thermometer that showed the temperature in the sun, and the shade. The temp in the sun was at least 140ºF, but the dial maxed out there. Needless to say, we didn’t want to move too much. We did spend a little time in the Canteen for lemonade and beers, but it gets quite packed. The river felt great, but it had some fish and leeches so Lily and I were a bit apprehensive to sit in there too long. Throughout it, some other campers had built river rock jacuzzis which were really cool to hang out in.
We went to bed pretty early, as we were planning on waking up at 4am again. The Tackett’s went to their cabin while Liza and I tried to get some sleep in our tent (both the nerves about the hike out and the heat kept us up for awhile) while Mike feel asleep outside on the ground with a tiny piece of wet fabric on him, looking like a homeless man.
4am arrived and we were on our way again. Nathan had estimated that we would take 7-9 hours to hike back out. I was quite dreading this and very nervous that I would hold everyone back. However, we were surprisingly energized and quick moving. We raced the sun and made it to Indian Gardens before it was came up.
We were all doing really well, until the last section of switchbacks. Liza and I were definitely starting to hurt a bit here. However…. we finished! And in 5 hours and 45 minutes! WOO HOO!
We treated ourselves to double scoop ice cream, and then pizza and beer. We earned that shit!
I was so incredibly nervous for this hike. And I’m so incredibly glad I did it. It’s always great to have a reminder that when you have to push and work hard to succeed, it makes it that much sweeter. Huge thanks to the Tackett’s for inviting us on this amazing adventure!
- If you have the capability to hike into the Canyon, do it. You can only look at the big beautiful canyon for so long. However, you HAVE to reserve super early. It is a lottery so you have to plan over a year in advance for this.
- Start early! Avoid the sun as much as possible, folks! You don’t want to be the person that has to be rescued on an emergency mule.
- Speaking of the sun… cover yourself. I resisted listening to Mike for a long time, but it really is the best option; wear a long sleeve cotton shirt! As you sweat, the shirt will stay wet and cool you. We also took our shirts off to soak them at water stops. It was glorious and made the hike more enjoyable, and more importantly, keeps you safer.
- Be smart. Bring plenty of water and snacks.
- This is one of the most popular parks. If you want to avoid a little bit of the crowd (just a little), go to the North side! Talk to a ranger about where to camp!