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mini location map2020-03-01
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Rim to RimNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Backpack49.00 Miles 11,000 AEG
Backpack49.00 Miles5 Days         
11,000 ft AEG25 LBS Pack
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Day 1. Sunday 3/1
Parked at the Backcountry Permit Office Lot. Rode the shuttles over to South Kaibab Trailhead. Started around 1100am to mostly clear skies. Forecast was for 50% chance of rain/snow showers in the evening. Although it only took 3 hours to make it down to Bright Angel Camp the clouds were looking quite threatening by the time I got my campsite set up.

Spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the area around Bright Angel Camp/Phantom Ranch. This being my first time at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, I really took my time soaking everything in. I lounged on the beach next to the Colorado River, followed the River Trail loop that connects the South Kaibab and Bright Angel Trail. In the evening I attended a ranger talk and had a couple beers at Phantom Ranch with one of the other campers, Jay, who was also based out of the PNW and had many years of extensively exploring the Grand Canyon.

Day 2. Monday 3/2
Got lucky with no storm overnight. It sprinkled on my tent just before dawn, but that lasted for just a couple minutes at the most and dried almost immediately. Hit the trail about 0830 and headed up to Cottonwood Camp. Since I had plenty of time to kill, I took Jay's suggestion and detoured about a half mile up the Clear Creek Trail to a nice overlook point. Got fortunate with my timing arrived at just the right time to watch a pack train work its way down the South Kaibab Trail on the otherside of the Colorado River.

Really enjoyed "The Box" along the North Kaibab Trail. Since I got an early start I was in the shade for most of it and didn't see many hikers. I took another detour to see Ribbon Falls, but since the bridge was closed I had to take the creek crossing route. I didn't have spare shoes, so I opted to do it barefoot and it was freezing cold and about 2' at the deepest point.

Arrived at Cottonwood Camp sometime around 1300. Chose the campsite that had the best view of the north rim so I could spend the rest of the day psyching myself up for the hike up the following day.

Day 3. Tuesday 3/3
Hit the trail about 0630. Chatted with another older hiker, Eric, who was also trying to do the R2R2R to commemorate his 75th birthday. Hiking was much easier today since I was permited to camp another night at Cottonwood and just carrying day gear to bag the rim.

Along the way I took the Roaring Springs side trail (totally pointless since it doesn't lead anywhere of interest and the best view of the springs is from along the main trail anyways). The North Kaibab was snow free until just after the Supai Tunnel where I started to encounter light snow and ice along the north facing slopes. It increased steadily up to the North Kaibab Trailhead where the ground was 100% snow covered, although the trail itself was well trodden and easy to follow. Since I arrived early in the afternoon, I opted to add some extra mileage to my trip and followed the road out to Bright Angel Point so that I could look back across the canyon and admire how far I had come before heading back down to camp.

On the way back down I ran into Eric again. He was moving very slowly and definitely hurting, but he was still intent on bagging the north rim. Despite an early start, he was on pace to get to the north rim sometime around nightfall and wouldn't be making it back to camp for long after dark. I told him I would make sure to check his campsite in the morning to make sure he made it back safely, and if he wasn't there I would alert a ranger when I made it back to the Phantom Ranch Ranger Station.

Day 4. Wednesday 3/4
After confirming that Eric had made it back to his camp successfully, I headed south again- this time headed for Indian Gardens. I was on trail around 0730 and felt really good. I had a quick lunch along the Colorado River, then crossed the suspension bridge and started heading up the Bright Angel Trail. I made really good time on the uphill portion and made it to Indian Gardens sometime around noon.

I got my camp set up and spent most of the afternoon chatting with my camp neighbor, Ryan, and exploring the nearby area. A couple hours before sunset I wandered out along Tonto Trail a little ways to the west of Plateau Point, then walked back to Plateau Point to take in the sunset with most of the other people who were also camped at Indian Gardens. I lingered a bit after dark after everyone else left. It was nice to watch the stars come out in silence while I reflected on all that I had seen over the last couple of days.

Day 5. Thursday 3/5
I was awake super early and so excited to finish the trip that I couldn't sleep. I discreetly broke camp by headlamp and was on trail about 0300. I took my time on the uphill section- wanting to arrive at the rim around daybreak. It was fun to have the trail all to myself. I stopped occasionally to turn off my light and just enjoy the stars lingering over the canyon.

The last 1/4 mile or so to the rim were pretty icy and I was glad to have brought my micro spikes along. I arrived at the Bright Angel Trailhead just after it got light enough to walk without my headlamp. I lingered for a bit enjoying the view before heading back to my truck and making the long drive back to Tucson to see my family.
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