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Rim to River, AZ
mini location map2019-10-19
27 by photographer avatarSunDevil3
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Rim to River, AZ 
Rim to River, AZ
Backpack avatar Oct 19 2019
Backpack16.50 Miles 4,680 AEG
Backpack16.50 Miles2 Days   6 Hrs      
4,680 ft AEG1 Day   11 Hrs    Break35 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Partners none no partners
Wow-- I cannot believe this trip has finally come and gone and what an amazing experience it was. After many months of planning, training, and purchasing gear-- my 8-year old daughter, Reagan, and I finally completed our Rim-to-River adventure this past weekend. This was what I had requested for my birthday this year and I cannot imagine a greater gift in all the known world.

We set off down South Kaibab around 7:30 on Saturday morning after a few minutes watching an Elk cow drinking from the water bottle filling station at the TH. SK is way steeper than I imagined and all I could think of most of the trip down was how happy I was not to be one of those poor souls we saw coming up. We met so many nice folks on the trail including another gentleman who was celebrating his birthday (the 72nd birthday in his case) with his brother-in-law by hiking the entire AZT from south-to-north. Kudos again to those guys as they were doing something in their 60s/70s that I don't think I could have accomplished in my early 20s.

We made it to Bright Angel CG around 2:30PM and setup camp before the obligatory hike over to Phantom Ranch to drink some lemonade, mail some post cards via mule, and take in a ranger talk on the dangers of the local squirrels. My daughter worked diligently to complete her Phantom Ranch Junior Ranger workbook to earn her badge/patch but we could not turn it in that evening as the second ranger talk never happened (not sure why) and the other ranger we met had to run out on pressing business before we could get the Jr Ranger oath.

On Sunday, we set out again around 7:30AM for what turned out to be (rather unexpectedly for me) the most difficult leg of our journey. The trip from Bright Angel CG to Indian Garden CG is technically the shortest (and much less elevation gain than the final leg) but was much more daunting. I think the lack of formal rest houses contributed to this but it was moreso the advice from some nice college girls (I believe they were NAU students) who advised us we had only about 1.5 miles to go as we approached the Devil's Corkscrew. I am still not sure if their estimate was accurate but those switchbacks were brutal and my daughter really lost hope when our trek stretched on much longer than I had predicted. In the end, it took us just over 6 hours and a small amount of tears to reach IG where we finally rested, took care of some blisters, and made our camp in the early afternoon. The weather had been forecast as rather cold (35F overnight low) so the extra cold-weather gear I brought put my pack weight at 35lbs and my daughter's at around 8-9lbs... that weight certainly caused our pace to drag as the day went on.

IG was wonderful that night though and morale improved immensely as we got to eat our dinner of freeze-dried spaghetti with meat sauce while a herd of 10-15 deer dined on the grass and leaves all around our site. We got to enjoy a private ranger talk about animal skulls with a wonderful ranger intern and played games (hooray for Barrel of Monkeys) while we watched the sunlight fade above the canyon walls. The weather did not turn very cold until well into the overnight hours and we got some much needed rest before another early morning of packing up.

Day 3 (my birthday) we set out at 7:30AM once more on our final ascent. We had steeled our resolve to make it out in a timely manner this day so we could make the drive to Flagstaff for our final night in a hotel and, more importantly, an obscene amount of pizza at Fratelli's. Some solid rest/snacking periods at the two rest houses definitely helped break up the trip and the knowledge that we were so close to completing this epic journey helped us push through the final 1.5 miles of the trail. We were able to spot about 8 big-horn sheep near the TH to cap off the end of the trip.

When we finally stepped back onto the level ground of the South Rim, my daughter broke into a huge smile and hugged me as she exclaimed "Dad! WE MADE IT!!!" As amazing and beautiful as the entire trip had been, it was that one moment that will stick with me forever as one of the greatest of my life. I have never seen such confidence and so great a sense of accomplishment from my little girl and that was worth anything in the world to me.

We caught the blue line back to our car in the Backcountry lot and drove over the the visitor's center where my daughter turned in her Junior Ranger packet. She got sworn in by another awesome ranger and received her Phantom Ranch Rattler's patch which, as the ranger informed her, is the most difficult Junior Ranger credit to obtain in all the National Park system. That was a final cherry on top of our GCNP sundae so we celebrated by buying her younger sister a plush big-horn sheep at the gift shop and heading south to collect our very well-earned pizza dinner.

I realize I gloss over the beauty and majesty of the landscape to a large degree in this trip log but hey, it's the Grand Canyon-- I think that is pretty much a given.

All in all-- it was a wonderful trip to an amazing place with great people-- most notably my favorite hiking buddy. Thanks, GCNP-- I will see you again soon.
"Being unselfish is a natural high, like hiking or paint thinner."
- Homer J Simpson
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