What a wonderful way to spend the Memorial Day weekend. I hiked from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to the South Rim with my college friends Dan and Natalie along with a family member and friend of Dan and Natalie, Mike and Eric. We started with a 4 and 1/2 hour shuttle drive that took us from the South Rim up through Navajo Indian Reservation and Kaibab National Forest land to the Kaibab Trailhead at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
We camped at Cottonwood (campground) CG on the first night and Indian Garden CG the second night. We had perfect sleeping weather and we stayed at campsite number 2 at Cottonwood CG, which was the same site we stayed at in 2015. I was looking forward to using the outhouse at Cottonwood CG but they no longer had the 3-sided structure where you had a perfect view of Bright Angel Creek as you sat on the toilet; they now had more modern Phoenix composting toilets.
One thing I looked forward to on this trip was the opportunity to eat the freeze-dried backpacker dinner meals, I remembered them being very tasty the last time I went backpacking. This time I had a pretty good Backpacker’s Pantry, chana masala on the first night and an excellent Good to Go pad thai the second night; the chana masala was a bit crunchy but did have good flavor.
Natalie let me borrow her backpacking pack and it was the heaviest pack of the groups weighing in at 35.7 pounds when all packed with water and supplies. Other packs ranged from about 25-31 pounds.
On the first day we hiked from the North Kaibab trailhead (TH) at the North Rim to Cottonwood CG which was 6.8 miles long and went from 8,240 ft. to 4,000ft elevation. On the second day we hiked from Cottonwood CG to Phantom Ranch at the Colorado River and up to Indian Garden CG. It was around 7.8 miles to the Colorado River and the elevation at the river was 2,450 ft. After making record time getting to the river we took a respite near the Silver Bridge and continued our trek to Indian Garden. This leg of the hike was around 4.2 miles and increased about 1,310 feet. After setting up camp we took a walk to Plateau Point, a very scenic lookout near Indian Garden CG. We finished our adventure on the third day when we hiked around 4.8 miles to the Bright Angel TH at the South Rim with an elevation of 6,970 ft.
Some other highlights of the the trip included playing O-Hell at night; being able to sleep, almost cowboy style with nothing much more than my sleeping bag, camp pillow, light blanket and rain-fly off of my tent which made for a wonderful view of the stars without having to worry about critters; perfect temperatures; having my friends coin the name “Chips” for me because I decided to buy and carry potato chips into the canyon at a stop on the shuttle up to the North Rim, and spending 3 days with great people.
Dan did a great job organizing this trip and Eric and his brother let us stay at their house in Williams, AZ, which is located about 45 minutes south of the south entrance to the Grand Canyon, the night before we left.
Since moving to Phoenix I’ve read several books by Edward Abbey and I often feel that he felt negatively about federal land management agencies because of construction and development on public lands, particularly in the Southwest. I’ve visited the Grand Canyon twice and Zion National Park once and each park is run very well, considering the number of visitors each park receives each year.