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21 by photographer avatarddgrunning
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Rim to RimNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Hiking avatar Sep 27 2013
Hiking21.12 Miles 6,200 AEG
Hiking21.12 Miles   6 Hrs   15 Mns   3.38 mph
6,200 ft AEG
Partners none no partners
Day 1 of back-to-back R2R. Day 1 agenda: South Kaibab-North Kaibab.

Headed up to the GC on Thursday evening and spent the night on the South Rim at Maswick Lodge. The cafeteria there has a pretty good variety. I went with the open-faced turkey sandwich with two sides of mashed potatoes (probably could have skipped the sandwich altogether and just loaded up on the yummy mashed potatoes)!

After a fitful/adrenaline-filled night's sleep, awoke at 4 a.m. to make final preparations and headed over to the backcountry office at 5 a.m. to pick up the hiker's shuttle to the South Kaibab trailhead.

Forecast was for 28 degrees, but I don't think it got down that low. Probably mid-uppper 30's at worst. High was scheduled for upper 50s/low 60s on the rims, and mid 70s/low 80s in at the bottom of the canyon. Great hiking weather.

On the trail at 5:35 a.m., though we made the ill-fated decision to take one more photo at the trailhead, which allowed a train of mules to enter the trail just in front of us. :tt: Let's just say the first 1/2 mile was both dusty and "aromatic." :yuck: Mercifully, when the the mule boss figured out that we were hiking at a faster pace than the mules, he stopped the train and let us pass! :y:

Pretty soon, our group of 5 spread out, each at his own pace, and I had the trail to myself up front. I just finished off the switchbacks below Skeleton Point when the sun finally peeked over the rim and instantaneously washed the canyon walls in light. What a spectacular experience, which neither words nor photos can do justice to.

Made it down to the river in 1:37, and headed over to Bright Angel Creek to dip my feet in, change socks, and check for blisters, etc.

All was still pretty quiet at Phantom Ranch.

Made good time through the box. Decided to try the route around "Asinine Hill" by Ribbon Falls. That ended up being a mistake. I could not find a good place to cross the creek. I saw a spot where I believe most rock hop across, but there was too much water from recent rains. I did a lot of bushwhacking trying to find an alternate crossing, but then just ended up taking off the shoes and socks and wading across. In the process, I skinned up my knee pretty good and, once across the creek, had to spend some time re-bandaging toes, etc., followed by more bushwhacking back to the Ribbon Falls trail. Lesson learned: Just go over the dang hill!

The rest of the trip up the North Rim was uneventful from a hiking standpoint, but of course, absolutely gorgeous! There was a spot on the trail about a mile south of Supai Tunnel where the recent rains had washed out the trail and crews were working to restore it. in the meantime, there was a small ledge with a rope attached that was used to navigate a 10 ft. section. No biggie.

As I approached the top, I kicked it in to see if I could better my time from last year (6:28). I ended up pulling out at the N. Kaibab trailhead in 6:15! :y: Probably could have shaved another 10 min or so, absent the Ribbon Falls "shortcut."

I was pretty spent, and after sweating out all the uphill, was beginning to get chilled. So, I got back on the Bridle Path to make the 1.7 mile trek to the Lodge. Walked right by a 6-7 point mule deer, chomping lazily on some aspen leaves only about 10 feet off the trail. He didn't seem concerned in the least by my presence, and even posed for a few photos. I think he could tell I just did R2R and posed absolutely no threat. :stretch:

Ordered both hot chocolate and ice cream at the deli, then settled into the Lodge "living room" to warm up and enjoy the canyon views, while awaiting the arrival of my companions, as well as a larger group that was driving to the N. Rim where we would all spend the night and then make the trek back across the following morning.

Absolutely beautiful day in the canyon! Photos to follow.
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