The Grand Canyon
We started our day before sunrise, catching a bus to the start of the South Kaibab trail. The Grand Canyon in mid-February is quite cold.
We had prepared for the hike with a series of practice hikes, and stocked up on our cold weather gear. This is pre-mask days (just before). These face masks came out of necessity.
Right away, we knew we were in for a treat. At the start, the sun was just beginning to come over the horizon and offer a glimpse of things to come.
For the first mile or so, the trail was covered in solid ice. Luckily we had stopped by the visitors center the day before and talked to them about the conditions of the trail.
At the visitors center, they let us know the trail was basically impassible and extremely dangerous without crampons. We purchased some at the shop without question, and were extremely grateful we did so. We wouldn’t have made it 50 feet without the traction they provided.
After about a mile on the South Kaibab trail, the ice begins to dissipate, and we came up to possibly one of the most epic views we’ll ever experience – the “Ohh Ahh Point.”
The Ohh Ahh Point may be one of the most aptly named overlooks we’ve ever visited.
Arriving not long after sunrise, the lighting cast across the canyon was breathtaking.
If we were to recommend one thing to do at the Grand Canyon, it would be to hike down one mile on the South Kaibab trail to this point. It’s cliché, but pictures truly do not give this experience justice.
The view from the Ohh-Ahh point is truly breathtaking.
As we left the Ohh-Ahh point, we began to descend further into the canyon, and even further away from the crowds at the rim.
Views along the South Kaibab trail continued to wow us. The drop-offs were a little intimidating, but with the ice behind us the trail felt much less precarious.
The Grand Canyon from the rim is a sight to behold. Seeing it as we descended into the canyon opened up a new perspective.
The views seem to stretch as far as your eye could see. The South Kaibab trail at sunrise might be one of the most magical places to be.
Approaching Cedar Ridge. This was probably an hour or so into the hike. We still felt like we were just beginning our journey to the bottom.
Hiking into the Grand Canyon will always be one of those “I remember” moments. One thing that stands out is how isolated we were compared to the rim. Leaving the crowds behind and descending into the canyon thousands of feet really made us appreciate the wonder that is the Grand Canyon exponentially more.
As we descended further, we passed through multiple areas where the soil composition and color change. It’s easy to see how anyone with even a small appreciation of geology could become enthralled with this place.
At this point we had been hiking for hours, and the bottom was still not visible. A few of the many switchbacks are visible in the lower lefthand corner of this photo.
The Colorado River – and the bottom of the canyon – are visible under this final ridge of the Canyon. We didn’t realize it at the time though – we were awestruck by the change in topography and the realization that we were finally seeing the results of months of training and prep-work.
One not-so-appealing part of hiking the Grand Canyon — the mule droppings. It was neat to pass groups along the way that were taking the trail by horse/muleback though. This group was headed back up the South Kaibab trail to the rim.
One of our first up-close views of the Colorado river.
Approaching the bottom of the canyon, the first bridge crossing the Colorado River came into our view.
It was surreal crossing the Colorado River at the base of the Grand Canyon.
Crossing the Colorado River on the footbridge. The bridge is only wide enough for one person comfortably,.
A view from the bridge. At this point we were 4-5 hours into our hike. From the bottom of the canyon looking up, there isn’t much to see. Other than the drastic change in temperature and fauna, it’s hard to believe we had just descended close to 5000 feet.
Once we reached the bottom of the canyon, it was about a mile to Phantom Ranch. There is a visitor’s center (with limited snacks and drinks), along with cabins and campsites in the area. We enjoyed a lemonade and some snacks we brought along with us for lunch. It was a much-needed-break before our trek back up the the rim edge.
Lisa mailing some postcards from the official post box at Phantom Ranch. Letters are transported to the rim the same as all supplies that make their way to the bottom – by mule.
We left by following the Bright Angel trail. The bridge that crossed the Colorado river was very similar to the one on our way in.
The Bright Angel trail was grueling. The ascent was close to a mile, the majority of which consisting of switchbacks.
Looking down on a small portion of switchbacks we had ascended on the Bright Angel trail.
This was in the middle of the last push. For the final mile, we had to reattach our crampons to avoid slipping, and possible taking a tumble over the edge. We were both exhausted at this point, and very much looking forward to reaching the top.
Over 19 miles, and almost a mile in elevation gain later, we reached the top. This was the most difficult hike we have done so far. We’ll be back to do it again (possibly from the North Rim) at some point, as this was the most epic hike we could imagine.
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