Day 1 – South Rim Views, Grand Canyon
So after a rainy day and first night’s camp in Zion, I’m happy to be on the road getting driven through the red desert highways.
We arrive into the Canyon around midday, after a ‘stop-off’ of what just happens to be the Horseshoe Bend. This deserves an in pictures feature so stay tuned for that.
The blistering mid 30’s heat is a stark change from what we were enduring just over 24 hours ago. Fighting off flood warnings and batting the rainwater off our tents. I’m worried that tonight my tent still won’t have recovered but we can deal with that later. So arriving into the Canyon campsite, we pull out our tents and I’m right about ours, still very wet. But in this heat I expect that to dry out soon.
Our official trek day is tomorrow, so for now we have the rest of today as our ‘free to roam’. A group of us are up for getting a closer look at the Canyons. We go out to South Rim and walk around the outer Canyon. All fenced off so fairly safe and full of snap happy tourists. The views are unexplainable – the sheer scale of the Grand Canyon – it’s difficult to comprehend there’s life past this view. Managing to get past the fenced section, we climb down to a view point resembling ‘Pride Rock’ from the Lion King. A purer view.
Worth the steep drop? Hell, yeah.
After many a zen moment, we head back to the campsite to talk preparation for the day ahead. While discussing all route options we get a clear divide boys vs girls (and then just the group who aren’t into hiking). Us girls opt to the 8 mile South Kaibab trail which has a steeper elevation. The boys opt for the longer route (12 miles to be precise) and possibly the more popular Bright Angel trail. Both difficult in their own way, ours – well we have no water en route. Which seems fair enough if we prepare to take enough with us right? (Spoiler, we run out of water and then it’s every girl for herself).
Oh we also all have to be up for 5am, which by the look on everyones face – we almost decide against going at all. But due us being here in high season, it’s advised to avoid trekking during midday to 3pm so the early starts are needed. Plus, this way we’re promised some spectacular views of Canyon during the sunrise.
Day 6 – Trek Day, South Kaibab Trail
Up at 5 o’clock. It’s dark, difficult and not as fun trying to wolf down breakfast. But we do, and then pack all our lunch, snacks and water. It’s an intense hike, and we’re more cautious of needing water as we have none on our route. Packed and rearing to go – we hop in our van and Laura takes us down to Desert View Drive, where we walk down to our starting point.
- 8 mile roundtrip
- Trailhead elevation – 7,260 feet
- No water on this route
A great sunrise? Definitely. All the pictures in the world won’t help showcase it’s true impact and beauty but I can give a damn good go. We get into sunrise pretty early on and already pass groups of hikers of course there to do the same thing. Then it’s about 1.5 hours of steep steps but all well marked routes to our first check in point, ‘Ooh Ahh’. For obvious reasons, it’s more spectacular views. It’s also the first part of our trail which opens up so you can take in the range you’re a part of. Just the colours in the sky, reflect off the red rocks in the Grand Canyon leaving a dusty glow as far as my eyes can see – unlike anything I’ve seen.
Our second rest point, ‘Cedar Ridge’ is around another 1.5 hours on from this point. I can feel this part of the trail much steeper and as also with the sun rising – also hotter. The deep red hues are becoming much more prominent as I’m surrounded by all the desert rock. Oh, forgetting to mention – we’ve all packed the water. All except two – who somehow forget, so now we’re all rationing out. Girl power and all that. But this walk definitely starts to flashing sirens about having no water available en route.
Midday and we’re almost at our final point before we turn around to head back. It’s midday, about 35 degrees and insanely hot. We reach our highest point and it all gets a little overwhelming before realising the distance we’ve still got to go! So snap happy and snap out of it we step our way down towards ‘Skeleton Point’.
Coming into Skeleton Point I’d definitely say it is the steepest out of the three points. I mean, I’d class myself as fairly active (heading to the 2-3 times a week) and my legs are starting to feel a little jelly like at this point. Not quiet the same exercising indoors as it is bouldering and hiking in a desert. But it’s paying off. This views really are priceless. We’re breaking much more frequently and for longer periods as now having pretty much run out of water. Also thinking about the walk back it’s all little stingy sips from now on.
I’m not suggesting anybody do the same. We’re making do as we had a couple of girls who just forgot to fill up their bottles. I’d recommend for each person to have at least a 1 litre bottle with them to stay adequately hydrated throughout. More if it can be carried.
Finally we make it to our finish point (we still have to turn around and back) but nobody is thinking about that yet. Good timing even with all the extended breaks. It’s taken around 3.5 hours. A well deserved lunch with a view. I mean we’ve probably burned off a weeks worth of calories right? The route back isn’t so daunting. It’s just tiring. But this is my thing – I’m much better an upwards stepper than down, never known why but my quads obviously agree.
Frequent breaks again, this time due to the intense heat that just isn’t shifting. It is midday so it’s expected but seeing other groups along the route helps our momentum. The views are also helping – a lot. Around 2pm we see the last stretch and my legs seem to find a new lease of energy where I just charge right up to the top. So there we all manage it at around 6 hours. All of each at different levels of fitness and none of us actual hikers. If we can get there and do it with very little water than anyone can!
Getting back to the campsite, I immediately down a bottle of water, shower and take a well-deserved heat nap. Fast forward to the evening and after cooking up a tasty camp dinner, we all head back down to the south rim to watch the sun set over the Grand Canyon. So many other campers and visitors come back and take a seat. It’s nice to be able to share it with so many people who all just appreciate the view. I’d say these two days have been the most special so far.
To read up on my previous Trek America posts just click below: