Enclosed find my trip report for our trip to the
Grand Canyon. The month since we've returned has not diminished
its impact; if anything, it's just beginning to sink in that I am
NOT the same person who went there.
"When once you have tasted below the rim, you will forever
walk the earth with your mind turned there... for there you have
been, and there you will always long to return."
--- paraphrase of Leonardo DaVinci's comment on flight
What you'll find below is my trip report for our N. Rim> S.
Rim Canyon trip, 10/16-20/01 I've followed a report pattern I really
like of organizing the thoughts by general category.
If any one has questions, I'd be happy to answer them, as I realize
that some of the statements are cryptic.
For experienced Canyoneers, this is "just" a rim to
rim trip report. Other than the section on "Consciousness",
it may not be of much interest to you.
I'd be especially interested in your response to my observation
that in viewing the Canyon from the rim, there's a palpable feel
that there "should" be something there to fill all that
space.... that you can feel the emptiness/ space, as if it's tangible..
And that the absence is "heard" as silence, coming up
from what isn't there.
The report will probably be of most use to ones who have never
done the Canyon before; those who wonder if they can. or those who
want to do a rim to rim.
Let me start by saying it was one of the finest, most meaningful
things I've done in my life; the fact I did it with my best friend,
my wife, makes it even more meaningful.
Reasons for doing:
This was the completion of a 31 year sentimental journey. At the
age of 19, I'd gone into the Canyon from the N. Rim, totally unprepared,
not having the foggiest idea of what the Canyon was about, what
I was getting into. or of the impact it would have on me.
We hiked down to what was, at that time, Roaring Springs campground
(now simply a picnic area), slept on the picnic tables that night
and hiked out the next day. As I recall, it was brutally hot, to
the point I probably was dangerously close to heat stroke on exiting.
I immediately feel deeply and madly in love with the power and
beauty of the place and repeatedly, over the years, told my wife
I'd go back. My intention on this trip was to return to the picnic
tables at Roaring Springs.
I was 50 years old; had never backpacked before; had NO backpacking
equipment; and was in only fair shape/ conditioning. We had done
a lot of car camping and quite a bit of aggressive day hiking on
the North Shore of Lake Superior.
(Starting 1/1/01, we worked into this regimen)
3/week: manual treadmill at maximum incline for 30 minutes, with
full (45 lb) pack on; weight lifting with Swiss ball for 45 minutes
and Qigong for 30 minutes
1/week: hike 4 miles with full pack on
1/month: hike 6-8 miles with full pack on
3 backpacking trips Lake Maria: a beginner's backpacking park
Jay Cooke: more aggressive Superior Hiking Trail (SHT): voted #
2 through trail for scenic beauty by Backpacker magazine
Took a day off from program every other month
Below the Rim:
Bright Angel Trail Hiking Map and Guide, from Earthwalk press:
the one that went along with us into the Canyon, due to it's detail
The N. Kaibab and Bright Angel Trail Guides from the Grand Canyon
Association. Useful info for reading in camp or on the trail.
Pocket Naturalist Field Guide to the Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon by John Annerino
Hiking the Grand
Canyon: the Corridor Trails; video by Ken McNamara. I highly
recommend this video for several reasons:
It gives an excellent idea of what you're getting into assists
in planning it's wonderful for learning the geology of the Canyon
(even though I didn't try) to actually see the spots in the Canyon
we'd seen on the tape helped us locate where we were
(an Incredible site, one of the best of ANY kind on the Web: this
kind of site is what the Web is for)
Favorite section of trail: Redwall
on N. Kaibab
Favorite Spot: Immediately after
coming out of the Supai Tunnel, the view down Roaring Springs Canyon.
For sheer excitement, beauty... and the wonderful prospect of this
spot being JUST THE start of our desert Canyon experience, meaning
many more days in the Canyon, this spot can't be beat.
Intimidating Spot: The
Box was intimidating: Alternated between being scared of it and
enthralled by its beauty and variety
Most Poignant/ bittersweet
spot: The last look behind at the Silver Bridge and Black
Bridge from the River Trail, heading to Indian Garden
Fun activities, other than simply being
in the Canyon: Rehydrate when get to camp after hike: Do
cool down stretches and drink at least 1-2 qts water BEFORE set
up camp. Friday afternoon, 3:00 pm at Indian Garden, sitting on
bench by Pump House Station: Watching day hikers heading up and
out of Canyon, 4.5 miles away- probably 4- 5 hours out for most
people. Could all of them be well equipped with food, water and
flashlights? I doubt it
The Park itself: Poor or no signs
for hikers to assist getting around on Rim or, even, from the campground
to Rim. Seems to be mainly geared for drivers.
Day 1: N. Kaibab: pink leaves
& sand, above the Coconino Coming through Supai tunnel The Redwall
Ability to tell rock layers (totally unexpected)
"My God, it's full of stars..." from 2001 the AZ very,
very black sky, see the stars from our tent at night
Seeing lights at Grand Canyon Lodge on N. Rim from our tent at
Cottonwood. We found out the next day that they'd had a closing-down-the-facilities
party for the staff at the N. Rim that lasted into the wee hours
of the morning.
Day 2: Roaring Springs: moment
of Victory was not the moment of overwhelming Success I'd thought
it would be: was simply: yes, of course, this is part of creating
my reality, managing my agreements and trusting the Process. Wonderful
Day 3: Ribbon Falls, the Box.
there-is-no-box.com .. Thought of while in the Box and it's heat.
(I'd been looking for a domain name for my new Web site. it came
to me in the Box-as in "outside the box thinking"... there
IS no box.)
Day 4: River Trail, especially
close to the bridges-last view of bridges-bittersweet/ poignant;
Tapeats, Plateau Point; the entire Indian Garden basin area: Redwall
Day 5: quite a bit easier than
expected until the last mile; pictographs; family of long horn sheep
We did it! No longer in front of me- behind me now.. It is done.
No more wondering if we can do it. We did it and thrived.
Dryness: Cracked, dry lips: thought our lips would fall off. Bring
the Carmex and use often. Temps: hotter than expected: 92 in shade;
low 60's at night Very Clear blue skies. Not a drop of rain. Smoke
from fire-wasn't a problem. Would smell a trace of just occasionally.
The Sun is so bright and it sucks, not just the moisture out of
you, but the life.
very minor Purple Toenail on right long toe: will probably lose
Section from Roaring Springs turn off to 1st footbridge (by Bruce's
house) is brutal downhill/ in sun. this is where I noticed my long
toe on right foot taking a pounding Developed dry blisters on back
of left heel: no fluid whatsoever; tore/ popped on own: no pain
at all.. not even aware of them until taking my boots off Wore brace
on each knee during all hikes Little bit of abrasion on top of left
foot, at bony point
It's Not the silence that I noticed first, but the emptiness:
Palpable feel that there "should" be something there
to fill all that space. you can feel the emptiness/ space. as if
it's tangible.. And that absence is "heard" as silence,
coming up from what isn't there.
The Grand Canyon is a different level of consciousness/ awareness,
one that is extraordinarily elevated, extraordinarily demanding
and extraordinarily rewarding. AND it's also a dry, parched desert
Awareness of walking in a narrow envelop of safety-and reveling
in that envelop
Feeling at start of trail: We're in the Grand Canyon: Here's where
we use all the training we've done, including mental attitude. Took
my watch OFF.
The thought that it's 30 degrees hotter in the shade in the Summer
than when we were there..... Yikes!
Constantly bathed/ suffused with the Canyon's radiation of well
being, timelessness, ever- changing beauty, grandeur... and the
edge of danger
Like viewing a Van Gogh painting from inside it.
Big horn sheep family at top of BA trail (must hang out there
a lot-Bob Ribokas saw a week later) Cicadas--- VERY loud. I thought
was rattlesnake: walked past very quickly, minding my own business
In the Box On way to IGcg
Two mice Cottonwood cg & Plateau Point Squirrels condor lots
of Southern Plateau lizards
Man connected to his wife by yellow cord: he was "afraid
of heights", but with his wife's support (and the yellow cord)
was on his way out on the N. Kaibab: that's courage and love.
GCFI trip that adopted us and pointed out areas of interest on
the trail, since we had same routing.
Clear that some "got it": the environment and others
didn't: Man on mule train: dropping cigarette ash
Wonderful camaraderie on shuttle van (if you take the Trans Canyon
Shuttle, don;t sit in the very back of the van) and at Cottonwood.
It was light enough to move around camp without lights 30 minutes
before sunrise; we'd be out of direct sunlight 1 full hour before
7 hours from the N Rim to Cottonwood 6.9 miles
7 1/2 hours from Cottonwood to Bright Angel (including an 1 1/2
hr, 1 mile diversion to Ribbon Falls) 8.3 miles
4 1/4 hrs to Indian Gardens 4.7 miles (easy, lots of shade, except
Devil's Corkscrew: hard)
2 1/4 hour to Plateau Point and back 3 miles (includes sunset gawking
5 hrs out via BA trail 4.6 miles
2 ½ hrs from Cottonwood to Roaring Springs: 2.2 miles
1 ½ hrs Roaring Springs to Cottonwood: 2.2 miles spent 1
1/2 hrs at Roaring Springs
met young NPS man at Roaring Springs-- there on horse named Chile
Dog, to clean the bathrooms (no mules that day, so could use horse)
Total mileage: 24.5 under pack 7.4 w/o pack
My difficulty ratings:
- North Kaibab trailhead to Cottonwood Camp Ground: 7.5 (downhill
pounding on toes, noticed especially from Roaring Springs turnoff
- Cottonwood Campground to Bright Angel Campground: 9 (due to
heat in the Box)
- Bright Angel Campground to Indian Garden Campground 5 ½-
6 ½ (Devil's Corkscrew is the only part that's hard) IGcg>
out 8 ½ (due to last mile and altitude effect on breathing)
Over all, other than the last mile out, it felt less strenuous
than our SHT hike.
Comment from veteran on trail: "like running through an art
museum" My wife wondered: do they do this to avoid being humbled
by the experience, the Canyon? amazed at how many of them! If live
close to the Canyon, they can do when see the weather/ temps are
good. They pay for our services-they're only in the Park for short
time, we' re there for several days
Hah! in Corridor, especially in Phantom Ranch area Jarring to
go from relative seclusion of N. Kaibab trail to Phantom Ranch area
Best was on N. Kaibab between Cottonwood & Phantom Ranch.
and between Cottonwood and Roaring Springs. We saw only 4 people
here- the NPS kid on horse, a hiker who came into and left RS while
we were there and Bruce Aiken and his wife, from a distance (the
footbridge over Bright Angel Creek)-they were sunning themselves
on heliport, I waved my hiking poles.
Odd, out of place, carnival/ circus atmosphere Lady who thought
it was a good idea to have headlamp flashlight (obviously not a
hiker). Stew dinner was OK-way over priced. Man doing photo shoot
of Phantom for magazine: "Pre-Disney theme park"
Lotsa people in campground talking loud-like people talking in
church (not appropriate)
Phantom: NOT a place to come to be alone
Wilderness only by virtue of how hard to get to
Flush toilets and running water at Bright Angel Camp Ground (unexpected
signs of civilization)
Squalor: Man on mule who dropped
cigarette ash Party people/ drunks at next site in Indian Gardens.
Garbage bag at Ranger station Cottonwood Looked like an animal had
gotten into it
Lovely spots: Little waterfall
in Bright Angel Creek by cool rocks in shade behind Ranger station
at Cottonwood Washed shirt here. Ribbon Falls: Odd combination of
OLD wisdom and delicate beauty
Entry weight, everything, including water: 74 lbs. At Exit weight:
50 lbs. no water left whatsoever
The last mile: several times, my legs felt like lead weights-I
quickly switched my focus off them. I deliberately breathed very
fast to get more O2: may have been better to take long, deep breaths
and do Qigong.
Other than that, it was clear that our training really kicked
in on the hike out the last day.... we felt fine, with little or
no pain or strain, other than being short of breath. We not only
survived, we thrived.
From Bright Angel Campground to Indian Garden Campground, we used
3 ½ liters of H2O between us. From Indian Garden Campground
to the rim, we used 6 1/2 liters.
32 degrees on S. Rim was fine for camping with our 20 degree bags:
Crush near the top of trail:
Looking at long horn sheep: unsafe bunching on narrow trail
Waiting for a few moments in crowd congestion just at top by Kolb
studio, with our packs on seemed incongruous, momentarily stalled,
Steak dinner at Arizona Room; night at Maswik. Left the next am...
hardly even looked at the rim: we both knew we'd be back. Afterall,
"When once you have tasted below the rim, you will forever
walk the earth with your mind turned there... for there you have
been, and there you will always long to return." --- paraphrase
of Leonardo DaVinci's comment on flight