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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

South Kaibab Trail, AZ

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5.7k 595 21
Guide 595 Triplogs  21 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Northwest > South Rim
Rated
4.6
4.6 of 5 by 107
 
27
Statistics
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Difficulty 5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 6.15 miles
Trailhead Elevation 7,200 feet
Elevation Gain -4,790 feet
Avg Time One Way 3-5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 14.14
Interest Perennial Creek
Backpack Possible & Connecting
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
12  2019-08-11 LJW
57  2019-07-04
AZT Utah to South Rim Grand Canyon
BiFrost
17  2019-05-25
Rim to Rim
desertchild
13  2019-05-25
Rim to Rim
sbkelley
1  2019-05-18
Grand Canyon Corridor Loop
survivordude
46  2019-05-18
Rim to Rim
Grimey
25  2019-05-15
GC: South Rim 2 North Rim
DixieFlyer
6  2019-05-05
O'Neill Butte
friendofThunderg
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 36
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
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Preferred   Apr, May, Sep, Oct → Early
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:15am - 6:27pm
Official Route
 
63 Alternative
 
Water
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Possibly the best views!
by HAZ_Hikebot

Likely In-Season!
Overview
How would you describe a 4,500' elevation change over 6.5 miles? It's a toe-buster going down and a calf-buster coming out. It's a beautifully maintained trail and a fantastic way to experience the Grand Canyon at its best but you'll soon know if all that training you did was really enough. If your finances allow, rent space on a mule to carry your pack and just take a day-pack. This makes for a much more enjoyable trip.


History
The South Kaibab Trail is a modern route, having been constructed as a means by which park visitors could bypass Ralph Cameron's Bright Angel Trail. Cameron, who owned the Bright Angel Trail and charged a toll to those using it, fought dozens of legal battles over several decades to maintain his personal business rights. These legal battles inspired the Santa Fe railroad to build its own alternative trail, the Hermit Trail, beginning in 1911 before the National Park Service went on to build the South Kaibab Trail beginning in 1924. In this way, Cameron inadvertently contributed much to the greater network of trails currently available for use by canyon visitors.

Hike
Remember the time it takes you to hike into Phantom Ranch, add 50% for good measure and you have an idea of how long it'll take you to get out. Even better, hike down on Kaibab and back out on Bright Angel to experience both trails. Kaibab will probably be the most intense 6.5 miles you'll ever hike. The views are absolutely breathtaking as anyone will tell you who's done it. Take 2 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of liners and change them halfway to give your feet a break and minimize blistering. Moleskin will be worth it's weight in gold as well, if you're prone to blisters.

Keep in mind the temperature change you'll likely encounter as well. During the spring and fall, it'll be cool at the top and hot by the time you reach Phantom. Coming out, you'll have little actual temperature fluctuation as the elevation change offsets the heating of the day which is really nice.

Someone told me if you can do Squaw Peak 4 times in one day that's about what Kaibab is like. Sound advise and a good thing to keep in mind when training.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Note
This is a difficult hike. Arrive fit and prepared or this could get ugly.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2001-05-11 HAZ_Hikebot

Grand Canyon NPS Details
When camping at Bright Angel Campground, many hikers prefer to hike down the South Kaibab Trail and up the Bright Angel Trail. Though the South Kaibab Trail has an almost identical maximum grade compared to the Bright Angel, it is more consistently sloped but does not have water or shade. The hike down South Kaibab Trail typically takes 4-6 hours.

The trail begins with a series of tight switchbacks. This is where ice will most likely be encountered during the winter months. After these initial switchbacks, the trail traverses below Yaki Point to the aptly named Ooh Ah Point (the first panoramic view of the canyon). From Ooh Ah Point on, the trail follows the top of a ridgeline and is consequently without shade. Several broad and steeply-plunging switchbacks later, hikers reach Cedar Ridge. There are pit toilets at Cedar Ridge, but no water or emergency phone.

From Cedar Ridge, the South Kaibab Trail traverses below O'Neill Butte without a single switchback to Skeleton Point. At three miles from the rim, Skeleton Point is the maximum distance recommended for a day hike. The trail goes directly off the end of Skeleton Point and here, where the trail has been blasted directly out of the limestone cliffs, hikers will encounter the most dramatic sense of exposure. The trail descends rapidly via a series of switchbacks to the Tonto Platform and Tipoff. There are pit toilets and an emergency phone at Tipoff, but no water. For hikers who will be utilizing the Tonto Trail to the east or west, the intersection is located fifty feet or so up-trail from the pit toilets.

Below Tipoff, the South Kaibab Trail loosely follows the course of an earlier trail called the Cable Trail (built in 1907 to accommodate access to the old cable car system across the river that existed before construction of the present suspension bridge). Vestiges of this earlier trail can be seen as the South Kaibab Trail descends toward the Colorado River. Access to Bright Angel Campground is via the black bridge (built in 1921).

Water Sources: There is no water on the South Kaibab Trail. From early May to mid-October there is water near the trailhead (from a spigot near the bus stop). Potable water is available year round at Bright Angel Campground, however, please note that due to occasional pipeline breaks water at Bright Angel Campground is not guaranteed: bringing an alternative form of water treatment, such as iodine tablets or a water filter, is essential. During hot weather, take at least 4 liters of water.

Campsites: At-large camping is not permitted on Corridor Trails; visitors must camp in designated campgrounds. Along the South Kaibab Trail, the only camping option is at Bright Angel Campground (CBG) located immediately adjacent to the Colorado River at the bottom of the canyon.

Notes: Grand Canyon is, above all else, a place of extremes. It is necessary to take appropriate precautions depending on seasonal variations in trail conditions. During winter months, the series of tight switchbacks near the top of the South Kaibab Trail will be icy for days or even weeks after a snowstorm. For hikers who insist on entering the canyon from May to September, it is critical to begin hiking well before dawn or in the late afternoon: Success depends upon staying off the trail between 10 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon (average descent time is 4 to 6 hours). Failure to arrive at Bright Angel Campground by 10 in the morning during hot weather can result in ill health or even death; at the very least, it will be a miserable experience. Ascending the South Kaibab Trail in hot weather is not recommended. Carefully study the National Park Service "Hike Smart" pamphlet issued with summer permits and always practice Leave No Trace.

Segments to Consider:
Rim (7260 ft) toCedar Ridge (6120 ft)1.5 mi
Cedar Ridge (6120 ft) toSkeleton Point (5220 ft)1.5 mi
Skeleton Point (5220 ft) tothe Tipoff (4000 ft)1.4 mi
Indian Garden (3800 ft) toRiver Resthouse (2480 ft)2.6 mi
Rim (7260 ft) toBright Angel Campground (2480 ft)7.0 mi

One-Way Notice
This hike is listed as One-Way.

When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Most recent of 118 deeper Triplog Reviews
South Kaibab Trail
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Day 1: First in line for the hikers' express shuttle at the Bright Angel Lodge by 3:45 am! One other person ended up showing at that stop. :lol: Different experience from the past (maybe because it's August). On SK trail by 4:40 am. Sunrise, around an hour later, was indescribable. Got to Phantom Ranch around 9 am and took a quick snack break. First time up North Kaibab and we were immediately blown away with the extreme beauty when we entered "the box". It was warm but actually a pretty perfect temperature at that time. We took another break at one of the creek crossings to filter cold creek water and cool down. Met the 2nd park ranger of the day who was giving hikers heat-hiking advice. Those rangers must deal with a lot. :-k We continued on and hit the Ribbon Falls creek trail sign around 11:30 am. It was getting pretty darn hot at that point and Ribbon Falls was the PERFECT oasis to cool down at. The hike to the falls took us about a half-hour. The distance is super short but there are many trails and some are more reasonable than others to follow. Ribbon Falls is out of this world beautiful! We had the place completely to ourselves for two hours while we played in the little cave and relaxed behind the falls. With our water bladders filled and our body temps cooled, we decided to head out and break at each of the (approximately) mile and a half spaced campgrounds ahead. There were a couple other waterfalls we stopped at to make use of the cold water and one with a great freezing cold pool close to the Manzanita Ranger Station. Waived hello to Roaring Springs falls around 5 pm and kept plugging away up the ever increasing grade. From here the side canyon we were heading up, paralleling the rock outcropping the north rim lodge sits on, kept getting prettier and prettier. As the sun went down the colors reflected in the canyon seemed to continuously change. The final few miles of N Kaibab are RELENTLESS! :sweat: Holy moly! Darkness was lovely and I had little bat friends flitting around to keep me company as the vegetation turned to forest forest. I made it to the top around 8:30 pm thinking my two friends were close behind. It was freeeeezing at the top and I immediately put on every piece of clothing I had. My friends arrived about a half hour later and one was feeling pretty bad & ended up throwing up. Unfortunately she had stopped consuming electrolytes once the sun went behind the canyon walls and didn't think about how much she was still sweating. I convinced her to eat some of my saltstick chewables and we made it to the lodge. :y:

Day 2: Woke up in our adorable little cabin feeling surprisingly good! We spent the day leisurely walking around the north rim and of course hitting up the lodge for food food and more food. Loved all the delicious vegan options offered for all three meals at the lodge! :DANCE: Our one friend who experienced heat exhaustion the previous evening ended up securing a spot on the shuttle for the return trip the next day instead of hiking back with us. We were grateful she had that option at the last minute and happy she was feeling better.

Day 3: We got to the N Kaibab TH at 4 am and started our decent. It was cool but more pleasant than the evening of our arrival. We got to the bridge around 5:30 am and light was starting to really expose the canyon colors. Stopped briefly to appreciate the colors in the caves area but no breaks this time around. I'm not going to lie...my calves were tight and my knees were screaming pretty loudly during the entire decent. Up is definitely my preference! We entered "the box" around 10 am (an hour later than our way in) and felt the heavy humid air sucking the energy out of me fo sho. Got to Phantom Ranch around 11:30 am and bought some cups of ice to add to our bladders and took our first break. Stayed for about a half hour and headed out with the intention of stopping at each resthouse area to cool down. Next stop was the beautiful little beach near the Colorado River Resthouse. We met a large family who hiked down just for the day to cook out & hang. They had multiple grills, leftover onions, potatoes, etc. They had packed it in and they were packing it all out (as we all should but unfortunately people don't always). Impressive! Now for the final stretch. We stopped at Indian Gardens around 3 pm and filtered cold water for the last time and cooled down. Heading up Bright Angel...I will never get over that view with the light streaming in and illuminating the angel. No words. The Bright Angel switchbacks feel like cake compared to the North Kaibab switchbacks. Still, our bodies were pretty exhausted at this point and we were moving pretty slowly. It's fun encountering tourists who have only hiked down a mile and a half and don't seem to understand they are blocking the entire trail for exhausted hikers who can't deal with navigating them right now. :lol: My friend made it to the top just before me and was treated to the sight of two mountain goats standing on a rock with a ray of light shinning on them! I saw the picture but missed the goats. Still, I was extremely happy for her to have had such a special treat!
South Kaibab Trail
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After we got back through the Box on the return hike, almost everyone else in our crew at some point asked me (incredulously) why I was doing this again. It was a fair question. Nobody's legs could be classified as feeling 'great' - or even 'good' - anymore. Dave and Shawn, visiting from Colorado, had shattered their daily hiking mileage records before we had even gotten back to Cottonwood, and we were nowhere near a point where anyone would consider us close to being done. But here I was again, nearly four years later, doing an R2R2R. It was tough (again), but it felt great to disconnect from work and a hectic semester and just hike. It was just what the doctor ordered. SK-NK-BA again.

Definitely a different experience when you have a group of 8 (and 7 that do the whole thing - one hopped on a shuttle back to the South Rim once we got to the North Kaibab TH), and everyone stays pretty close together. Last time it was just me and Eric, and we moved quickly and efficiently. We moved quickly again, but the 'efficiently' is much harder to accomplish at rest stops with a larger group that's laughing and talking and enjoying the day. As you should. The time at these rest stops does add up over the course of a day, though we only really had one where the break was probably a bit long (North Rim). No complaints, though, this was a fun group, I had nowhere to be and nothing on my calendar (for once!), and I wasn't at work. Most of all, though, it was so great to see the Canyon again, and even better to see it with good friends. We got ridiculously lucky (again) with the weather: highs in the mid 80s at Phantom Ranch on Memorial Day weekend should not be expected, but it sure made things nicer for someone now living in a place where it now snows in the winter.

Just like last time, the body felt great climbing up N. Kaibab and Bright Angel, and less than great between Phantom and Cottonwood both ways. Go figure. Sam was a ball of positive energy all day, Chris kept an easy-going attitude and steady pace, Taylor was a machine all day, JD and Bill couldn't stop talking about how pretty the canyon was, Dave had a blast checking off a lifelong bucket list item, and Shawn even smiled. It happens sometimes.

The next day, I heard at least four of them say that we should do it again. Remember that when you're going back through the Box on the way home, guys. Two is enough for me...that is, unless Lilah wants to go someday.
South Kaibab Trail
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Another winter assent of a popular summer hiking trail. I used microspikes the entire trail as the meadow had man made snow and much if the trail had hard ice after the first rock slide. The trail was easily passable to the saddle. There wasn’t much of a trail from the saddle to the peak, only foot prints. There were often two sets of tracks and the the game became picking the right one. Temps started out at 21 in the parking lot to 30 at top, according to my thermometer. Lots of wind on the ridge to the peak. Not many others the trail.... photos in photoset #2
South Kaibab Trail
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Rim to Rim to Rim
For whatever reason, I had been craving another R2R2R since my last one in October and I finally got it out of my system yesterday. Perhaps against my better judgement, I decided to start the run at midnight. After forgetting my hat in the car and making the cab driver loop back to get it (by the way, the recent construction in Canyon village sucks), I didn't officially get started down S. Kaibab until 12:22 am. I knew the next few hours were going to test my nerves, and they did just that! Running in the dark is a challenge in and of itself, but doing so with a gaping hole next to you and bats swarming around your head really ups the ante. By the time I started my climb up N. Kaibab trail, I was more comfortable with the dark and was kind of enjoying it. Running next to Bright Angel creek and hearing nothing but the sound of the water flowing and my footsteps pounding was one of the most peaceful experiences I've had. The climb out of Cottonwood Campground to the top of the North Rim didn't feel too bad and I was making great time. The toughest part of the hike, in my opinion, is the ~1-1.5 miles before you hit the Supai Tunnel, which marks 1.7 miles to the top. My eyes were playing tricks on me and I was POSITIVE that I saw the tunnel around every turn. Ten or so switchbacks later, I finally did see it, and the next couple miles were smooth sailing. I made it to the North Rim in 5 hrs 40 min, 20 min faster than last time. I only spent ~4-5 minutes on top of the rim because it was so chilly, and wanted to catch the best part of the sunrise from the Coconino Overlook a little ways back down the trail.

The run down N. Kaibab to Phantom Ranch was really enjoyable. I felt great and was able to run 100% of the way (last time I mostly hiked this part because it was hot and my legs were pretty dead on the downhills). The trail was thankfully in the shade of the canyon for this whole stretch, and the early morning colors were magical. I probably wasted a little too much time taking photos, but I made up for it by keeping a 9-9:30 min pace the whole way down. The trail was totally empty until about a mile or so outside Phantom Ranch, and I knew I would miss this solitude on my hike out BA. As expected, the hike out BA was sunny, hot, crowded, and generally a slog. The tourists were worse than usual yesterday and I had to throw a couple elbows to people not following proper trail etiquette (hikers coming up get right of way!!). I was motivated to finish strong and win a bet with @friendofThundergod, and managed to average 20 min miles from Indian Garden to the top. After finishing, I stopped at the General Store for my usual: turkey, carrots, and coffee ice cream :), and started the long drive home. I'm so happy that I smoked my last R3 time, and I think my thirst for this run has finally been quenched.

NOTE: Water is ON at Phantom Ranch, Manzanita, North Rim, and Indian Garden.
South Kaibab Trail
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I got my first taste of bagging Canyon peaks when Lee and I summitted Cheops Pyramid on New Year's Eve. It was a fun challenge, but I knew it was just the tip of the iceberg for me. I've had Brahma Temple on my mind for months; not only does it look like a beast from every angle, I just couldn't let Lee get away with solo bragging rights forever. ;) I knew going into this weekend's backpack that the likelihood of getting on top of Brahma was small, given Lee's recent shoulder surgery and wariness of re-injury. Although my summit fever was high (and I mean HIGH), I acknowledged that my boyfriend's safety was more important and was prepared to leave Brahma for another day.

We admittedly didn't have a super solid plan going into the weekend, knowing that many of our plans were contingent on water sources, Lee's shoulder, weather, etc. Despite quite a bit of hemming and hawing on Day One, we arrived at Sumner Wash in the early afternoon and lucked out with having a decent amount of (bug-ridden) water in the wash. With water to filter, we saw no reason to push on to Clear Creek and set up camp at Sumner on a rock-ledge overlooking the wash, with Zoroaster looming in the background. We enjoyed a relaxing afternoon at camp with a short hike further down Clear Creek Trail just before sunset.

The next morning, we slept in a bit, enjoyed a leisurely breakfast of oatmeal and coffee, and messed around taking photos for far too long. Oh, the naivety of thinking Brahma would take ~4-5 hours... *Someone* forgot the day pack, so we loaded up my backpack with snacks and water to get us through "to lunch," as Lee recommended. We headed off towards the Red Wall break around 8:30am: Lee, assuming we wouldn't make it much further than the break and would be back in time to hike out of the Canyon the same day, and me, overcome with summit fever and eyes focused on the prize (though also still thinking a hike out SK the same day was totally doable).

Aside from Lee accidentally dropping his favorite Nalgene off the side of a cliff, we made it through the Red Wall break without issue. There was one rope climb in this section that's a breeze for those of us with two healthy arms, but not necessary to use. The view from the top of the Red Wall took my breath away. At this point, we were still very unsure if a Brahma summit was in the stars, but seeing the Canyon from that vantage point would have been enough to satisfy me for the whole weekend. Our next step was getting through the Hermit Shale, which involved a handful of chimney sections and tons of scrambling. This is my kind of fun and I was loving every minute of it! Our adrenaline was pumping, but we both tempered our expectations, knowing that Lee's biggest obstacle (the rope climbs) still stood in our way. Lee made it up the first rope climb with ease, but the second one was a bit trickier. I had a feeling that he was too determined to turn around at this point, and was extremely nervous that he was going to tear his shoulder repair trying to be a badass. But a couple Ninja moves later, Lee had conquered the second rope climb and I was filled with elation that we were actually going to conquer Brahma!

The worst sections for me were the traverses, particularly the one right after the rope climb on the way to Zoroaster Saddle. But one cautious step at a time, we made it to the saddle and onto the next traverse along the backside of Brahma. After my discomfort with the scree and boulder field traverses, I was craving that final scramble up Brahma. It proved to be much longer and more difficult than we anticipated, but there was no turning back at this point. We made it to the top around 2pm, spending just a few minutes to snap some pictures and sign the log book. Don't get me wrong: the views from the top of Brahma were INCREDIBLE, but they honestly couldn't compare to the experience of conquering such a tough challenge with the best teammate I could ask for. From Lee's calm instructions through the traverses to me giving him literal butt pushes all day, we supported each other every step of the way, and that was more rewarding than any view could be.

We knew that getting up was half the battle, and still had a long journey ahead of us. The wind picked up to 40-45 mph as we made our way back to the Zoroaster Saddle. After being literally pushed over by the wind, I had to squat for minutes at a time when the gusts picked up to avoid being swept of the side of the peak. We made it back to camp minutes before dark, hungry, thirsty, and tired, but with a huge sense of accomplishment - and relief that Lee's tent had not blown away!

After a completely sleepless night due to the unrelenting high winds, we quickly packed up our gear and got an early start, hoping to beat the threatening storm clouds all around us. The hike up SK was fast-going until the hail started at the tip off point. We were surprisingly chipper about the inclement weather conditions for several miles, enjoying our first real taste of winter this season. My patience with the snow and wind eventually wore off and I had to admit I was pretty beat those last couple miles. The snow and wind finally died down for our last half mile out SK, and we were quickly back to all smiles, seeing the canyon beautifully dusted with fresh snow.

The best way to sum up this weekend was "nothing comes easy," but they say the best things never do! It was an unbelievably memorable trip, and I think we'll have to do Zoraster next. ;)
South Kaibab Trail
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So Brahma was the plan for this three day excursion into the Grand Canyon with @carriejane and Brahma it was! We had permits for two days in the area, one for the AJ9 use area and one for the AK9 use area. The original plan entailed camping at the top of the redwall break on the way to Brahma a summit in the morning and then camping at Sumner Wash on the second day. However, the prospect of carrying 8 liters of water up the redwall break on day one, may have lead to a liberal interpretation of Grand Canyon backcountry rules on the first night. Nevertheless, our summit attempt was a resounding success and it was one of my more memorable three day trips into the big ditch. I was very worried about how my surgically repaired right shoulder would handle a Brahma summit attempt less than two weeks after getting the green light for the resumption of full physical activities, but I learned that I can do a lot of things with one arm and Carrie pushing up on my butt. Speaking of learning things, we also learned that a Nalgene can survive a 50 feet fall through the redwall and that tents are best when staked during high winds and that the poles that come with the Fly Creek Platinum are very durable under stress.

Day one was a pretty standard and at times warm hike to Sumner Wash, where after filtering six liters of water we decided that a loose interpretation of the backcountry zones was a better option than lugging our heavy packs up through the redwall. Especially, with some worries about my shoulder as it was. After setting up camp, we did a little day hike further east down Clear Creek Trail and then returned for an amazing night in the shadow of Zoroaster.

Day two was a play it by ear day. The goal was to go as far as my shoulder could take us and to just enjoy the journey along the way. Thinking my shoulder would only take us as far as the redwall break, I told Carrie to pack enough snacks and water for a return around lunchtime. This turned out to only be a seven hour miscalculation, as the shoulder was feeling great. With every obstacle cleared, I began to feel more confident and our determination to reach the summit grew. The rope sections certainly proved difficult, but it can be done with one arm and a little nerves. Similarly, the short climbs and scrambles can be negated by a nice two handed push on one's bottom. The traverses and wind tested Carrie's nerves, but even they proved just minor obstacles in our quest for one of the Canyon's ultimate summit gems. There was a little route finding Snafu to contend with on the final scramble, but there was no way it was going to stop us at that point and we quickly got back on track. The summit finally became a reality by 2 p.m. There are not a lot of names in this register and someone had replaced the book about ten days ago, but I was pleased to see that my now barely discernible entry and ode to my old man was still there on some loose papers in the register. We knew we had a long day still ahead of us, so we turned around after only a few minutes on the summit. The way back was pretty uneventful aside from the wind, which had me looking back several times to see if Carrie was still attached to the earth. The tougher of the ropes proved to be a little difficult going down, but it did lead to one of my classic quotes of the day. When I told Carrie I needed her help at the bottom, she asked, "What do you want me to do?" I yelled down, "Just catch me if I fall!" She looked up a little dumbfounded at what I thought was a pretty reasonable request. Going back was a slog, we were both basically out of fuel to eat and water to drink, but we got back to camp sans headlamps (both of us had left ours in the tent) about ten minutes before dark, just how we had drawn it up.

We endured some of the worst and most sustained high winds I have ever encountered while backpacking Sunday night, but were still able to get a pretty early start Monday morning despite the nearly sleepless night. We later learned that those were most likely 40 plus mph winds that we were dealing with for about 12 straight hours. The hike out started off quick and then became a bit of a slog around the tip off point when some quarter inch sized hail began to pelt us, luckily this turned into some softer snow very quickly, but the high winds and white out conditions required us to draw on a little grit for the final three miles of the climb out. We were rewarded for our tough little climb out with the road closed and gated off right before the trailhead due to the snow and ice on the road. However, just as we were contemplating how we were ever going to get home with a gated off road now in front of us, a tow truck driver came and unlocked the gate for us and some other pretty anxious travelers. I was not even aware the forest service gated off that rim road during poor road condition events!

In the end, the second time proved to be a charm and I could not think of a better person to share that amazing summit with! It was team work the whole way, nothing came easy and it was always interesting!

The return route I posted to the track is just a leg of the official route for anyone examining route. I turned off Route Scout on our return from the summit to conserve my battery, so just used the official route for an estimation of stats.

South Kaibab Trail
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I headed to the Grand Canyon with @carriejane over the New Years weekend. The goals were: Hippie Camp in Upper Phantom, a recon of the Shiva exit route, a quick trip up Haunted Canyon and then Cheops Pyramid. The trip was also a test run on my surgically repaired shoulder, which is nearing its fourth month of recovery and long awaited end to its five pound limitation/restriction.

Day one included a late start and then an extra trip down the road to the trailhead to go back and grab some containers we had forgotten that would be needed to haul the water for our dry camp on day two. South Kaibab was a bit of a zoo, but the hiking was quick and the views were nice as usual. The Utah Flats Route was the rugged steep little climb we expected, but it went well. The stretch from the top to Phantom Canyon was a real treat, some great clouds and big views. The scramble down to Phantom was a little tedious, but that initial stretch of canyon makes it worthwhile. Initially, we had planned to hike into Hippie camp on the first night, but the attractiveness of the overhang camp and taking off the heavy packs won over.

On day two we day hiked up to Hippie camp and did a quick recon of the Shiva Exit Route, which I have to admit looks pretty intense, but I would still like to utilize it on a future ambitious trip. Although Hippie camp was a minor let down, the area intrigued both of us and we discussed a potential future return during snow melt. There was no time for Haunted Canyon with Cheops Pyramid still on the slate, so we returned to camp, packed up and made our way down stream. After a quick visit to the rope and falls that mark the upper and lower divide of Phantom, we filtered and stocked up on water for Cheops and our upcoming dry camp. Then it was the brisk climb back up U.F.R. and a quick stroll across the Tonto. We dropped the heavy packs and started off for Cheops at about 2:10 p.m. The off trail contour to the pyramid is a bit of a slog, but it seemed to go by quickly and before we knew it we were at the base of the “steps.” This part went a little smoother for me than the last time and we located the little climbs and the cairns marking them with relative ease. On the summit before 3:30 p.m. and after a ten minute break or so we were heading back down. The hike back to our packs was a little slow, but we were still able to retrieve our packs and make our way down trail to a nice campsite just before nightfall.

Day three consisted of slipping and sliding down Utah Flats into Phantom Ranch and then the River Trail to Bright Angel. We detoured off BA to do some of the Old Bright Angel and made the obligatory stop at the archeological site along the way. The last three miles of BA were a major slog for me, but Carrie was unfazed and left me in the dust a little.

South Kaibab Trail
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I had been wanting to see Cheops Plateau from the other end of the spine since my summit of the Plateau just about a year ago. My return to the area in the fall with @DallinW further piqued this desire. In fact, we had planned to do it together this weekend, but Dallin has a foot that needs to get right by next month, so he had to bow out. I nearly bowed out myself due to a nasty bug and spending about 15 hours in bed on Friday, but nevertheless, fueled on energy drinks and Thera-Flu, I dragged myself out of bed at 3:30 in the morning on Saturday to pack for a night at the canyon and a big day hike. I was on the road by 4:30 and started off for Cheops at 8:05 a.m.

I immediately realized that my zeal for the hike may have been enhanced by cold medicine and two energy drinks on the drive up. I could just tell it was going to be a slog, my legs were even fatigued going down hill and those are supposed to be the free miles on these big days in the canyon. I even thought about just making a loop with the Tonto back to BA and shuttling back to SK, but I was worried that I would be confused with the throngs of free pass users that were cluttering up the trails and decided it was best to continued on to the pyramid. I filled up, rested a little and cameled up at the campground before hitting Utah Flats where I ended up almost turning around due to feeling so poorly. My legs just weighed a ton, I was short of breath, feeling a lot warmer than what I should have been feeling and a little nauseated. In fact, it took me an hour just to climb the first mile up Utah Flats, however, the pyramid was just too close to call the hike.

The route to the pyramid was a little tougher than I thought it would be and I was not very fast going at all. In terms of approach, I think the plateau is easier. As stated in the description, the route to the pyramid will test those stabilizer muscles in your legs. Throw in an achy body, some intense fatigue and a little remorse for pushing on and you have the key ingredients to a miserable 1.5 miles. However, as the "steps" neared, my resolve grew. It took me a minute to figure out the the steps, but eventually they went smoothly and I was finally on the pyramid. A top notch summit in my opinion, with some solid views to the east. I tried to just enjoy my stay on the summit, rather than think about what I still had to do to get out, but that was definitely on my mind. I took some pics, replenished my energy stores a little, while watching two brave souls attempt crossing the spine from the plateau. I don't know how far they got, but they had not given up when I left the summit. The off trail portion seemed to go a little quicker on the way back and despite taking several mini breaks along the way, reaching the campground did not go nearly as bad as I thought it would.

The climb up SK was a complete slog. I was taking breaks at nearly every mile by this point and just trying to keep my feet moving forward. I got a boost of energy near the top when I saw a guy carrying a full mountain bike on his back, props to him and slightly motivating. I topped out just after nine and reached the car at 9:30 p.m. I had intended to stay the night, but my body was telling me I needed some rest, so I just headed straight home, not one break. Back to the house just before 1, just your run of the mill 21 hour excursion to the Grand Canyon.

Final Notes

Although the pyramid was great, I still put the Plateau above it, in terms of views and even route. Utah Flats is a superb trail right now with the green and yellow hillsides and nice cacti bloom. Speaking of, am I the only one who always loses the Utah Flats route for a couple of hundred feet every time? It's warm again in the Canyon! I consumed just about six liters of water and Gatorade, although, I was over-hydrating to compensate for being sick. I have always been a mind over matter person when it comes to being sick, but I did learn on Saturday that eventually the body will win when applying that mindset. It was not pretty and I did not set any land-speed records, but I got it done and still experienced that great sense of accomplishment and elation/buzz that has came with my tougher Canyon summits.
South Kaibab Trail
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Tough day to a very cool destination on a warm, breezy day. The climbing section definitely gets your attention, especially reversing things on the way back down. Canyon seems greener than normal this Spring.

Late in the day I saw a serious-looking dude heading down the SK with nothing but a mountain bike strapped to his back - wanted to ask him why but he didn't look to be in the mood for chit-chat.
South Kaibab Trail
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Down S. Kaibab, across Clear Creek Trail, then bushwhack to the base of Cheyava Falls. Clear Creek was running higher and browner than usual. Had to walk through it quite a few times. Returned to the rim via Bright Angel Trail. There was a large rock slide along the River Trail last week but NPS already cleared it.


Directions
Map Drive
or
Road
Paved - Car Okay

To South Kaibab Trailhead
From Flagstaff head west on I-40 for 30.4 mi to SR-64. Turn right/north and follow SR-64 55 miles to the park. You will receive a map & information at the GC park entrance.

You can only reach the trailhead by free-shuttle or taxi. Parking is available at several lots. There is a lot a mile from the trailhead on the east drive. If you are there early you can use this lot (it fills up fast) and hike the two miles there and back.

Express hikers' shuttles directly from Bright Angel Lodge and the Backcountry Information Center to the South Kaibab trailhead depart daily at:
March 7:00 a.m., 8:00 a.m., and 9:00 a.m.
April 6:00 a.m., 7:00 a.m., and 8:00 a.m.
May 5:00 a.m., 6:00 a.m., and 7:00 a.m.

NPS Note: The South Kaibab Trail is located near Yaki Point. Due to the popularity of this area and extremely limited space, parking is not permitted at the trailhead. Hikers must use the park's free shuttle bus system to reach the trailhead. Every morning, several hiker express buses leave from the Bright Angel Lodge and then from the Backcountry Information Center (times vary depending on the month). Otherwise, hikers will need to take the village bus (Blue Line) to Canyon View Information Plaza and transfer to the Green Line. South Kaibab trailhead is the first stop on the Green Line.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 235 mi - about 3 hours 42 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 340 mi - about 5 hours 12 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 88.1 mi - about 1 hour 33 mins
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