My husband and I did one of the grandest hikes of all at the beginning of March: We hiked 7 miles down (4700′ elevation loss) the South Kaibab Trail to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, camped in the Bright Angel Campground, and then hiked 9.5 miles up (4300′ elevation gain) the Bright Angel Trail to the top of the canyon. Whew! It took us about five hours to hike down and seven hours to hike up while carrying about 35 lbs. each in our backpacks. Here’s a recap of our weekend adventure:
After driving from SoCal to Grand Canyon National Park (the South Rim) on Friday, we checked into our cabin in the Bright Angel Lodge and then had an amazing dinner at the historic El Tovar restaurant. On Saturday morning we left our car at the Backcountry Office and took the Hiker’s Express Shuttle to the start of the South Kaibab Trail.
Then, we started going down…down…down! The top of the trail had a bit of snow and ice on it and I was quickly thankful for my hiking poles. We passed Ooh Aah Point, Cedar Ridge, and Skeleton Point before finally getting our first glimpse of the Colorado River at the bottom of the canyon.
And still, we walked down and down and down. Again, I was so thankful for my trusty hiking poles. Going downhill seems to be tougher for me than going uphill (the exact opposite for my husband). Eventually, we crossed Black Bridge and selected a spot in which we could set up camp for the night.
I took a quick little nap in the tent, we explored the area a bit and refreshed our feet in the Colorado River, ate a backpacker’s dinner, and then were in our sleeping bags at around 7pm.
We woke up before dawn on Sunday morning, packed up our camp, and began the hike up, up, and up on sore legs. We hiked at a slow and steady pace, stopping and resting at the River Rest House, Indian Garden, 3 Mile Rest House, and 1.5 Mile Rest House.
The last few miles of the Bright Angel trail were caked in mud, snow, and ice. We were a fifthly, but happy mess when we reached the top of the canyon at around 2pm.
Without stopping, we walked directly to our car in the Backcountry Office parking lot, kicked off our muddy shoes, and took off to visit the Hoover Dam and spend the night in Las Vegas.
Although it was a whirlwind weekend, we had a fun time, and we are so proud of the fact that we hiked all the way to the bottom of the Grand Canyon (and back up!). But oh…boy oh boy were we sore for days afterwards! My calf muscles were so tight that it looked like I had polio while attempting to walk. My hands had gotten sunburned due to their position on my hiking poles (and me putting sunscreen everywhere except my hands!). No matter, though, as I did not have the intense foot pain that made me cry the last three miles of our Half Dome Hike. So, the weekend was a success in many ways!