Blog 12, Grand Canyon
July 6th, 2022 8:29 pm
Blog 12, Grand Canyon, Arizona
As we arrived at the Grand Canyon the lightening was flashing in the sky ahead. This is good as it’s cooled the area off and apparently the rain has brought the Elk into the campsite area for a drink, I saw 2 on the way in.
Last time we stayed here we could only get into a campsite just outside of the national park in Tusayan Village, but this time we scored a place right in the heart of the Grand Canyon Village. It’s very woodsy here which is a wonderful contrast to the hot desert we’ve been in. Tomorrow we are walking the Bright Angel trail.
The Bright Angel trail is a 16km trail to Phantom Lodge which is at the bottom of the Canyon by the Colorado River, to walk that far is a 4380ft change in elevation. Phantom Lodge is not open for just anyone that wants to walk and stay there, it is now on a lottery system so the number of hikers is limited and managed.
This trail was originally built by the Havasupai people to get access to Indian Garden which was a historic community that was able to survive because of water source. President Roosevelt ordered them to leave in 1903 to make way for the National Park. We didn’t walk to the river, we didn’t even walk to the Indian Gardens. We did however walk down for 90 minutes, covering about 4.5km’s.
We were at the Grand Canyon in 2018 so we know that the walk down is a doddle but you need to preserve energy to walk back up. Still, we are both fit and walk lots of hills when we are at home in Auckland so we didn’t find the walk up difficult. We decided to cycle about 4 km to the trailhead and I must admit I did find the all uphill cycle ride home tough going.
The colours and textures never fail to impress when walking in this magnificent environment. We were aware of thunderhead clouds rolling closer as we got to the rim but got back to the coach before it rained and got very cold.
The next day we had a day off from hiking and cycled along the rim to the South Kaibab trailhead which we did in 2018. It was a big cycle ride along the canyon rim but very scenic. We saw lots of elk with their offspring and they seem very tame.
I thought Elk were vegetarians!
I went for an hour long run in the afternoon and found it quite challenging to run at this altitude. Again, it rained in the evening and was very cold.
On our last full day we walked the South Kaibab Trailhead. The National Park Service built this trail in 1924 because there was controversy at the time with the locals charging visitors to hike the Bright Angel trail. The NPS thought it was important that there be free access to all hikers. Today both trails are free except you need to pay $35 daily to enter the National Park. We buy a ‘America the Beautiful’ pass for $80 that then gives us free access to all parks in the USA, it’s already paid for itself.
The South Kaibab trail is 11.4km long and has an elevation change of 4780ft so this is steeper and shorter that Bright Angel.
If you look closely you can see a Gecko, there are lots of them and they are quite large!
Again, we didn’t walk the full trail but turned around just short of Skeleton Point which is 5km out. They have rangers on the trail asking where your turn around point is. They go to great effort to warn you about walking in the heat of the day and the difficulty to walk back up. We found this quite demotivating but they don’t want people having no plan, and walking down to the river which I suppose is an obvious goal. They make it clear that there is no rescue. If you get ill from exhaustion or altitude sickness you spend the night on the track and walk out the next day. They rarely chopper people out as it’s very dangerous flying.
We both walked out only stopping for the odd photo. Today was a beautiful blue-sky day.
Tomorrow we head out of the park for Monument Valley in Utah.