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Rim to Rim, AZ
mini location map2014-03-08
33 by photographer avatarslowandsteady
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Rim to Rim, AZ 
Rim to Rim, AZ
Backpack avatar Mar 08 2014
Backpack54.95 Miles 15,735 AEG
Backpack54.95 Miles4 Days         
15,735 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Back in November, I obtained a permit for two nights in the Yurt on the North Rim. Initially the plan was to hike rim to rim both ways. After seeing Phantom Ranch a few weeks prior to the trip, we thought we’d try and get cabin at least on the way in. We had been told that the trick is to keep calling and as close to trip time as possible. The Monday before, I got us bunks in the dorm cabins. On Saturday morning, on our drive to the Grand Canyon, I gave another call and we were able to upgrade to a cabin with a queen size bed and private bathroom!

Day 1
We parked at the Visitor Center and took the bus over to the South Kaibab Trailhead and were hiking at 11:45am. We scurried down to Cedar Ridge to get past the crowds. There was a large group of mule riders resting at Cedar Ridge. As we headed towards Skeleton Point we could see another mule train coming up. We eventually crossed paths and these mules weren’t carrying people just peoples stuff. Those mules are pretty tall, I think I’d be more nervous on one, then just hiking. We got to Tip Off and the area was pretty crowded with people coming and going. There was a group having a lunch break on the steps of the Rest House….you’d have to be pretty tired to eat there! We made it down to Phantom Ranch by 3:30. I tried that Lemmy Lemonade, I’ve read so much about. I’ve never had a more refreshing drink! We had dinner reservations at 5pm, the steak dinner well exceeded expectations, steak, baked potato, peas, corn, salad, corn bread and chocolate cake! We enjoyed Ranger Story Time, took a refreshing shower and got a good night sleep.

Day 2
We had the early breakfast at 5:30, with eggs, bacon, pancakes and peaches. At breakfast we were reading the board that said water was off at the Pumphouse. We listened to the ladies next to us say that the North Rim is closed, so people aren’t doing Rim2Rim2Rim right now... interesting. We started our 14 mile trek up to the North Rim at 7am. The Box was neat. I can only imagine the man hours that went into making the trail with its five bridge crossings and the rock retaining walls. We came across some deer doing their best to blend in. The plan was to check out Ribbon Falls. There was a sign saying “Ribbon Falls via Bridge” so we followed that arrow. It seems like you are going out of the way. You go up quite a bit of elevation and then drop back down to a bridge. Ribbon Falls was impressive, an amazing oasis! We took an unusually long break at the falls, we had it to ourselves and it needed to be savored. Between Ribbon Falls and Cottonwood, we saw the only four other hikers we would see all day. The first guy said there was no water to be had unless you drink out of the creek. He claimed he had been on the North Rim. Then right behind him was a Ranger, who said there would be water at the Pumphouse and up on top. We saw one camper at Cottonwood and he was visiting from the Yukon. He mentioned more than once that he was just trying to keep cool! We arrived at Pumphouse and the mystery was solved, there was drinking water. And the chalkboard had many messages from R2R2Rers, as recent as the prior day. We continued on and took the side trail down to the Roaring Springs Rest house and came upon some more deer.

Now the uphill party started. I knew it was three miles to the Supai Tunnel from Roaring Springs. I assumed my normal uphill pace of a 30 minute mile…so after two hours when Karl offered me a break, I was certain there was no way it is only three miles to the tunnel. We had a nice break at the bridge while a blue bird kept us company. We then crossed the bridge and the well camouflaged switchbacks came in to view. I dragged myself up and finally saw the tunnel. I checked my GPS and realized it is only three miles, and I was starting to drop to a one hour mile! Another break at the tunnel and it was only 1.7 miles to the rim. Would it take me two hours at this pace? Sadly, it almost did. I can conjure up lots of excuses, but I definitely underestimated the North Kaibab Trail. We started to see little patches of snow, and arrived at the Coconino Overlook. I was just beat and barely had the energy for a photo. I really just wanted it to be over. Finally I could see the trailhead. Whew! That is no joke! We decided we had enough water for the night and just headed to the Yurt. It felt wonderful to drop the pack, start up a toasty fire and relax. Once rested I could start beating myself up on my pace and how unimpressive that was, what a buttercup.

Day 3
Rest Day! Karl got up a couple times in the night to put some more wood on the fire, so with a toasty Yurt, we had a relaxing breakfast and enjoyed a cup of coffee. Eventually we headed over to the Back Country Office for water. On the way we ran into the Ranger. He was really friendly and told us some interesting stories and facts. After getting water, we headed out on the Widforss Trail. For this trip, we had purchased crampons, and eventho they weren’t needed, we decided to play with them, since we had carried them all that way! There was enough snow and ice, to test them out. We did encounter some snow up to thigh level. But, pretty much any patch could have been walked around if necessary.

When we returned, a father and son were sitting at the N K Trailhead. They were halfway done with their R2R2R. They asked us about water. They had left a message on the chalkboard at the Pumphouse for the rest of their friends, but didn’t know there was water there. They also didn’t know there was water over at the Back Country Office. They were contemplating the walk or to just wait and get back down to the Pumphouse. It is interesting that they can be in the middle of a 40 plus mile hike, and that extra ¼ mile makes them balk! Luckily the Ranger came by and drove them over to water.

Day 4
Today we would go straight to the South Rim; the Ranger had said to give it 12 hours. We got up early and headed out just before 6 am. By the time we reached Coconino Overlook, we could turn off the headlamps. By the Tunnel, we were taking off the jackets and gloves. The views down to Roaring Springs are just amazing. How they hiked this back in 1928 without the conveniences we have today, is incredible. With the views, you have a solid excuse for just stopping and looking around and adjusting the backpack on the shoulders for a moment.

At the Pumphouse we tanked up and took a mini break. Then as we headed towards Cottonwood Camp and we started seeing people again. The Ranger had said that they were gearing up for Spring Break and we did see several groups of young people.

Pretty much the whole day the only thought going through my head was lemonade, lemonade, lemonade. It is what drove me to Phantom Ranch. Crossing the five bridges seemed to take much longer than necessary. Heading south, the stretch between bridge two and three went on forever. Lemonade, lemonade, lemonade. We sat in the Canteen and we shared a pack lunch. A mother and daughter duo who had just hiked down were also enjoying the lemonade. They weren’t sure if they wanted to believe we had just come from the North Rim, because it is “closed” right now. Plus, we were sitting right next to a chalkboard that said all water to the North Rim was off, and we were claiming it was not. I think we had them convinced we weren’t crazy, right up until we mentioned we had to go, since we needed to hike out. (Because, you don’t hike down and out the same day)

Ok, only seven miles and this 40th Birthday adventure would be over. That’s it. It is all about milestones and nothing to it. Over the black bridge, get to the South Kaibab/River Trail intersection. Easy Peasy up to Tip Off for an actual sit down break. Then a little people watching, to pass the time. It is amazing how many seemed to be carrying nothing, not even water. The switchbacks up to Skeleton Point slow me down, but I knew I could sit again once I got up there. As we sat there, we saw two young guys, in jeans, just carrying their coats. They went over to the edge and were looking at the view. As we headed back up, we shook our heads. “Ah, kids”  Three miles and done, whoo hoo. A quick break at Cedar Ridge, because now, we could smell the top. Off to Ooh Aah Point, and I start to feel over dressed with the pack and all. I counted the switchbacks to get to the top, it passed the time. I plopped down on the bench by the sign, and took a big breath. An agitated man came over and questioned us and why we had big packs and where we came from. Karl said “Trust me, this trail goes to the river.” :) It turns out, his family thought the trail ended at Skeleton Point and it was his sons we saw carrying their coats. It was coming on sunset, and we never saw them coming up behind us. I hope they did turn around at Skeleton and came up shortly, because Mom and Dad were pretty stressed.

I think the reason you are told not to hike Rim to Rim in a day, isn’t because of the physical challenge, but because there is too much to see and enjoy! :y:
Mule Deer
Named place
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Grand Canyon - North Rim
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