Walking down into The Grand Canyon

We got up pretty early and got going so we wouldn’t be hiking in the heat of the day.  By 9 we had driven up to the visitors centre and were waiting for a shuttle.  The free shuttle ride out to the South Kaibab Trail only took about 15 minutes.   You cannot drive by car to this trail head.

The track descends quite steeply along a well-made track.

Already there were lots of weary people coming back up it.  This track goes to the Ooh Aah point, then to Cedar Point, then down onto a plateau which, if you walk to the end gives you a look over the river below-this is Skeleton Point.  The National Park strongly advises nobody tries to walk to the river and back in a day.  Signs advise that people have ended up ill or dead trying to do this.  No risk of us making that mistake!  I guess it’s misleading to many people because the track is downhill and, apart from the heat is easy all the way out to your furthest point, but it’s a steep haul back up.

We enjoyed taking in the views as we descended what is often a series of switchbacks.  We got to the Ooh Aah point pretty quickly, this is the 1.5 mile loop walk.  We went on down to Cedar Point.  The toilets there were a welcome sight.  I had set a goal for myself of getting to the furthest point on this walk, it’s a 12 Km loop, however at Cedar point we had been walking for 40 minutes and had descended 1000 feet.  While it’s only a 3 mile loop back from there it’s considered a 3-4 hour walk.  I could see at Cedar Point that to go to the end of the walk as I had hoped meant we were only half way!

Walking to the end would be easy, but the walk back up from that speck in the distance seemed daunting.  We carried 1.5 litres of water each and lunch, but there is no more water available on the trail, what if you get altitude sickness, or dehydrated here?  Once you get sick from those conditions it can be hard to recover, especially from altitude sickness.  How would they get you out if you couldn’t walk it?

We had spectacular views at Cedar Point and neither of us could see the merit in walking to the end of the track-as S always asks, is the risk worth the reward?  I thought it probably wasn’t.  It took us 2 hours to walk back up-we did it in really good time.

Back at the trailhead, we rested and said hello to the mules.  You can take a mule ride down on the trail-poor things having to do that hard trek frequently.

We caught the shuttle back to the visitors centre and had a look around there.  It’s very informative.  We sat and watched an 8 minute movie about the Grand Canyon on a 3D globe.  It explains how the canyon was made which was interesting.  The environment over billions of years has been an ocean twice, it was once roamed by dinosaurs, it has had huge river systems running through it.  Today the layers through time make the landscape very interesting.  There are horizontal layers all through the canyon, some of the worlds oldest rock has been revealed here.  The Colorado River that runs through it now is not solely what carved the landscape, but it has been flowing through the canyon for thousands of years.  Now the flow of the river is managed by the dam at Lake Powell as it flows through the canyon to the reservoir at Lake Mead

Back at the coach in the early afternoon for a lazy time as we contemplate whether tomorrow will be a cycle ride or another walk.  It’s our last day here.