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64 by photographer avatarTough_Boots
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Rim to RimNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Oct 07 2011
Backpack40.00 Miles 6,000 AEG
Backpack40.00 Miles4 Days         
6,000 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
This was my first trip down in the canyon--what an awesome place and an awesome time. We left early Thursday for the drive up to the south rim and met the shuttle to the north rim. Forecast said plan for 100% chance of snow and that's what we got. It was a cold night at the North Rim Campground. Luckily we filled our bellies at the lodge deli and grabbed some beer and firewood--which helped considerably and the five of us survived.

Day 1: We woke up early and took our time getting ready. Eventually we made our way to the North Kaibab Trailhead and headed down to Cottonwood Camp. It was overcast most of the morning and we got a bit chilled when the snow hit. Snow in the canyon--a plus for sure! The haze prevented many of my pictures from looking good but in person it was amazing. We took the short side hike to Roaring Springs on the way. We made it down to Cottonwood and set up camp. From there, with our loads lightened, we headed down to Ribbon Falls which was amazing. North Kaibab was probably my favorite of the trails. Some of the drop-offs are harsh and it has a much more rugged feel to it.

Day 2: Woke up cold but much more comfortable than at the North Rim. We made our way down to Phantom Ranch and the Bright Angel Campground. We had one open slot on our permit and at the last minute John9L was able to hike down from the South Rim and meet us for a night at Bright Angel. He was there waiting for us at Phantom Ranch. We all set up camp and did a couple short dayhikes. We took the Clear Creek Trail out to the famous overlook and then came back down and hiked the River Trail loop across both bridges and down to the landing beach. My original plan had been to break camp early ahead of everyone and rush down to Bright Angel so I could do Clear Creek in its entirety but I seemed to have caught a slight cold Thursday night and didn't think it was wise to do a sickly 20+ mile day with two days of uphill ahead of us. I was glad everyone wanted to do the shorter dayhikes so I could see a bit more down there. We made it back to camp early enough to hear the ranger lecture which was kind of silly. Really we were just waiting for the store to open back up so we could indulge in a quick Tecate. Bud or Tecate? Someone needs to teach the parks about beer. Also, bees invaded one of the campsites and apparently a lot of folks had a bad time of it--luckily we avoided the event.

Day 3: Woke up and we were in no hurry. John headed out first since he had the whole hike back to the South Rim to do and then his drive back to the valley. We eventually headed out and up the Bright Angel Trail. It's quite beautiful watching the river get smaller and smaller as you ascend. We made it to the Indian Gardens Campground, set up camp, and went to check out the Tonto. The views on the Tonto are stunning. We made it out to Horn Creek and the group decided to turn around. This gave me a chance to spend a little solo time so I continued a couple more miles and made it out near Dana Butte. I turned around in time to allow myself a leisurely hike to Plateau Point where we planned to meet for sunset. Plateau Point is one pumpkin of a view. I arrived a little early and planted myself out on the rocks near the edge and watched the sunlight change and the shadow of the south rim work its way up the north side. The rest eventually made it, enjoyed the views, and we headed back just after dark. Indian Gardens is definitely the nicest of the corridor campgrounds.

Day 4: Two in our group had to make it out of the canyon super early and be back in the valley for a test at noon. Ugh! They got up at 4am and since their rustling around woke me up, I started my day, we said our goodbyes, and I sat in the dark drinking green tea. It was a really nice morning. The other two eventually got up. We broke camp pretty quickly and headed out--wanting to get through our final and hardest day. That is one steep trail. It's definitely the steepest trail I've done with a full pack on. We made pretty good time, though, and got up in under three hours. Those steps are relentless. It becomes obvious when you get near the top though-- the tourists start appearing. We made it and headed excitedly for Mexican food!

I know most people do the rim to rim in a shorter time--even in a day. Only one in our group had ever hiked in the canyon before and we wanted to take our time and see everything we could. It was the perfect thing for a bunch of newbies. Honestly, I could have stayed longer. Our group was awesome and we had a blast. I also went into it knowing there were lots of folks on these trails. That's usually a deal breaker for me. I enjoy solitude and don't much enjoy running into crowds. The canyon, though, is so amazing that I never minded. There definitely seems to be peak hours when the trail runners come through in numbers, but other than that it wasn't too bad. I can't wait to do more of the canyon trails. I couldn't have had a better time! Thanks for organizing this, Rachel!
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