Friday, December 26, 2008

Grand Canyon, Day 2

We got up early, geared up, made a final go/no-go decision, and hopped on the 8AM bus. The ranger suggested we take the Kaibab trail down. There is no parking by that trailhead but there are shuttles at 8AM and 9AM.

We were the only hikers on the bus.

The previous day's weather had caused huge snow drifts. A hundred feet down trail we found two men shoveling the path -- odd since few tourists hike this trail. In many places we would sink into the snow knee-deep and in a few spots we were post-holing up to our hips. We had crampons but no snowshoes, so it was slow hard work. As we descended further into the canyon and lost elevation there was less snow and we picked up pace.

The sky was partly cloudy and the views were amazing. As the day went on the clouds cleared almost entirely. Click a pic to see the whole album.

It took us 5.5 hours to hike the 7 mile trail -- all downhill for a 4800' drop. Even if I wasn't carrying a 45 lbs pack I would have considered it the hardest hike I've ever done. It was a relief to find a campsite and get the packs off our shoulders. We set up camp, made dinner, and were so exhausted we went to sleep at 7:30 PM. Sunrise wasn't until 7:30 AM.

Despite the difficulty of the hike, it was entirely worth it for the views and the solitude.

There is an easier way to see the bottom of the canyon than hiking and camping. You can ride a mule down, stay in a room at the Phantom Ranch (located less than a mile from our campground), and ride back up a day or more later. I think it's a great idea if you're not up for the hike.

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