Saturday, October 11, 2008

Rim to Rim - Part 1

It will probably be best to make this a two part post since most of you are more interested in the pictures than anything else.

Despite the gloom and doom of my last post, I made it across the Grand Canyon today (go team go). The weather reports predicting 60 MPH gusts and sustained winds of 4 5MPH with snow and rain showers turned out to be greatly exaggerated. It was cold, the weather service got that part right. The temperature was 38F at 5:20 AM when we headed down into the Canyon from the North Rim, but the wind wasn't near 60MPH. Yes, there were trees scattered all over the trail for the first couple of miles and the wind speed was probably close to 30 with gust up to 40, but it wasn't raining nor was it snowing and although the morning was partly cloudy, the sky was clear blue by 10 AM. All in all, nice hiking weather right up to the last couple of miles on the South Rim (but more about that later)

Those of you who follow this blog, already know that the Grand Canyon in northern Arizona holds a certain mystic for me (as it does for nearly everyone that has ever walked across it). I never get tired of hiking in the Canyon. The light is never same, the weather can vary dramatically from hour to hour and there is always something new to catch my attention. I just love the place.

The hike I did on Saturday was fairly standard. South on the North Kaibab trail from the Rim to the Colorado River; across the river on the Black suspension bridge and climb a climb out of the Canyon using the South Kaibab trail from the river to the South rim

The trail from the North Rim drops from 8,000ft to 4,100ft in 7 miles at Cottonwood Camp ground and then continues along Bright Angle Creek for another 7 miles, descending 1,700ft to the Colorado river at 2,400ft. The South Kaibab trail isn't as gentle. It climbs up off the river and continues none stop from 2,400 ft to 7,000 ft in another 7 miles. 21 miles in all. Along the way the scenery is spectacular.

Unfortunately, I'm never on the North Kaibab above Cottonwood Camp Ground when the light is really good, so most of my pictures of his area are taken with poor light. More correctly, I don't have a camera that is able to capture the startling effects that the soft predawn light has on the side canyon through which the North Kaibab trail descends. Keep in mind that I always start down in the dark using a head lamp and the shear size of the canyon slowly takes shape as the sky slowly brightens. But this part of the canyon doesn't get any direct light until 10AM. By that time, I'm well on my way to the river. Consequently, the photos on the North Side of the River are never as nice as the photos on the south. None-the-less, on to the photos.

A couple of shots I took from the North Rim on Friday afternoon. Not many people see the Canyon from this angle. It's hard to get to the north rim so most tourists only go to the South Side. In the second picture, you can see the San Francisco Peaks in the back ground. The highest peak is 12,000ft.

A shot of the North Kaibab Trail head from Friday afternoon. It was seriously dark when we left on Saturday.

The wind in the Canyon was nasty on the way down, but that didn't diminish the grandeur of the place. The picture above is the trail along the canyon wall about 2000 feet below the rim. Notice the shear drop next to the trail. This was the first photo I took after the sky brightened enough.

This is the first view of the South Rim looking through the top of Bright Angle Canyon. It's a long way up from here and we'll still need to descend 2000ft to get to the river.

Cool rock formations on the way to the river.

Mule Deer

More cool stuff

The entrance into Phantom Ranch

Yours truly at Phantom Ranch. By this time, the temperature was in the mid 50's and I shed all my cold weather gear.

Exiting Phantom Ranch, heading to the Colorado River.

The Black Suspension Bridge over the Colorado River

The River, note the white water rafting boats on the small beach.

A view from underneith the bridge

Onto South Kaibab. 14 miles behind me and the real hike is just beginning.


Gotta Run said...

That was one of the highlights of our trip this past June. I will admit that I was scared the entire time that someone would fall over the side of trails. Words and pictures can not capture the beauty!!

Looks like you enjoyed yourself! Not sure I would have had the courage to cross that bridge though.

Chad in the AZ Desert said...

Great news on the weather. I had hoped that you would get lucky with it and it sounds like you did.

Those are beautiful photos. Can't wait to see the second half of the hike.

Ann Ewbank said...

great photos as usual Phil.

J~Mom said...

Awesome Phil!! So glad to hear that it went well!

Ewen said...

That's fantastic Phil. Dramatic photos. You wouldn't want to have vertigo on that hike! One day I'll get back there and do it.

Go part 2!

Jim said...

Way cool. I still need lessons on how to balance my life. You seem to be able to do so much in so little time. The photos are great as usual and you have me thinking about our trip to Vegas in March . . . could there be a daytrip in the canyon????

Thomas said...

I sure hope I will be able to do the same one day myself.

Josh said...

Gosh, only 40 MPH winds...

Great pics!

Deene said...

lovely photos, thanks for sharing!
one of the runners from my trail group was leaving last week to run rim to rim and return on same day(or at least that's what i think he said)