|Hiking||28.15 Miles|| 10 Hrs 32 Mns ||2.82 mph|
|5,846 ft AEG|| 32 Mns Break|
|When my non-hiking friends ask why hiking is so special to me, I'll point them to this weekend’s R2R as a way to sum it up. |
Two days disconnected from internet, tv, media, email, cell phones, politics, COVID-craziness, etc.— and 10+ hours of uninterrupted time with my teenage daughter (a HS senior), immersed in one of the most amazing places on earth.
As this is my youngest daughter, I'm starting to run out of nearby kids to hike with, so I'm trying to build a few more memories while she's still at home. We'll be heading back soon to do a backpacking trip to Nankoweap.
On this trip, we drove up to the North Rim on Friday. We usually stay at the cabins on the North Rim, but this time stayed outside the park at the Kaibab Lodge. It's an eclectic place. Nothing fancy, but the beds were comfortable (which is all that really mattered to me).
Up early the next morning (of course), and on the trail by 5:30 a.m. TH parking was relatively full but not packed, and the trail traffic was relatively lighter (due to COVID?). It was relatively warm by end-of-September standards, which was nice at the start, but portended an oven later on in the hike ....
Hiked by headlamp for the first mile.
Passing through Supai Tunnel is like the entrance to a Disneyland theme park: when you come out the other side, it feels like you are in another world, as the Canyon opens up to dramatic views at that point.
At the Roaring Springs turnoff, I decided to make a short side trip to the rest area. I had never been down there before. It adds another .6 or so to the trip, plus a couple hundred feet of elevation gain. At the rest area, there are bathrooms (closed/locked) and a water spigot (turned off) and not much else in the way of amenities. Views of Roaring Springs along the trail, though, are better than from the NK trail. Also, you notice that there are several other places where the springs are flowing down the side of the canyon walls. The resulting creek in the drainage also has some nice cascades, including a 10-12 ft. fall not very far downstream (by slight bushwhack) from the rest area. There was an anchor and rope that would allow one to downclimb to the base of the small falls, but as I was still in the latter stages of recuperating from a broken collarbone, I decided that further off-trail exploring downstream would have to wait for another trip.
My daughter was not interested in taking any extracurricular detours, so I had to hustle to catch up to her, which I eventually did just around Cottonwood campground.
At the Ribbon Falls turnoff, we checked out the dilapidated bridge and wondered how much longer till it would collapse altogether and crash into the creek.
We didn't venture over to Ribbon by way of the creek, but from the NK trail, it looked like the flow was a bit anemic.
The rest of the way to Phantom was uneventful. I always enjoy the narrow confines of the Box.
After about 5 hours of hiking, we reached Phantom Ranch and soaked our feet in the creek by the BA campground area, while eating lunch.
Then it was over to the Silver Bridge and up Bright Angel. The River was a a deep/vibrant green--beautiful, but seemed a little lower, given the dry winter.
I had planned on giving a go up South Kaibab instead of BA, but my daughter wasn't interested in that waterless, exposed death march, so we stuck with the traditional BA climb.
We hit Devil's Corkscrew at the hottest and most exposed time of day. It made for a bit of slog, but my daughter was a champ, and soon the Corkscrew was conquered.
At Indian Garden, the temperature gauge was showing well over 100 degrees. My daughter soaked her feet in the creek while we steeled ourselves for the final 4.5 mile / 3000 ft. climb. I always tell people that it's just a Flatiron hike to the top from Indian Garden--but less steep! (I also warn them that the last two miles are five miles long!).
As usual, those final miles took their toll, but my daughter set a solid pace and kept on trucking. Luckily, by the time we hit the base of the climbing in earnest (about .75 mi. up canyon from Indian Garden), the trail was largely shaded.
Topped out at 4 pm, and hung around for a beautiful canyon sunset.
Unfortunately, due to COVID, the showers at Mather Campground were closed, so we settled for a hand/face wash and change of clothes for the late drive home.
Back to the question of why hikes like this are so meaningful to me. This is my battery recharging station.
It’s not just the incredible vistas—and they ARE incredible. But incredible vistas can be appreciated in photos, in a magazine, on a poster, or on a social media post of HAZ triplog.
Hiking itself offers an exponentially different level of appreciation—one that is simply not available through two-dimensional, visual perception.
Hiking allows me to jump INTO the photo; to manipulate and appreciate the incomparable artistry of God’s creations from many angles; to interact with, and EXPERIENCE the vistas of the trail with all five of my senses, as well as a touch of the spiritual:
*From the smell of the towering pine trees on the North Rim;
*To the sound of Roaring Springs or the rushing cascades along Bright Angel Creek;
*To the sight of the mighty green (or chocolate) Colorado River underfoot at the Silver Bridge with the powerful, churning eddy swirling upstream on its south side;
*To the taste of fresh water at Indian Garden after conquering the Devil’s Corkscrew in the mid-day heat;
*To the burning/aching of my own muscles and rolling drops of my own sweat, mixing with the powdery layer of dust I’ve carried with me 20+ miles from the North Kaibab Trailhead and across the expanse of the Canyon, as I ascend the seemingly endless climb from Three-Mile-Resthouse to the Bright Angel Trailhead.
Hiking allows me to become part of the landscape—to feel alive and to connect (or reconnect) my life with fellow creations of Mother Earth—both animate and inanimate.
There are some things that cannot be fully appreciated without investing a portion of your very being--your own energy and sweat (and some occasional blood, blisters, tears, and muscle cramps).
Precious few things are more valuable in this world to me than sharing such immersive hiking experiences with someone I love and savoring the resulting shared memories created thereby.