Arizona

Sorry, I got a little ahead of myself in the last post. Kingman is actually part of Arizona not Nevada.

Continuing along in Arizona I booked two nights in the Grand Canyon campground. It’s the first National Park I’ve stayed in so far that was not almost completely full, I guess summer is over. After setting up camp and relaxing for a bit there is a huge crashing right behind me in the trees. There are two huge elk looking for food. They use their antlers to hook onto branches up over their head then pull them down to the ground where they can chew on them. These guys are really big, you can see the full size dumpster in the background for scale.

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I drive over to the Visitor Center (which conveniently closed 3 minutes before I arrived) and walk along the Rim Trail enjoying the view

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Found a nice spot on the rocks off the trail and watched the sun set over the canyon

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I’m thinking about doing the Bright Angel Trail down to the river and back up the next day. This is the one that they have signs all over the park warning you not to attempt in a single day, but the weather forecast looks good, 97 and partly cloudy at the bottom and mid 70s at the top, and I really need to work off that Sam’s Town buffet. I figure I will go down to the last water stop at Indian Gardens and see how it looks from there. Since they don’t want you to try to hike to the river they don’t show how far it is or the elevation change.  I set out bright and early at 7:00 down the trail. Early on I meet a bunch of people coming up, they came from the North Rim down to the river and back up the South Rim. Today is their fourth and final day on the trail.

A snake crossing the trail, first one I have seen so far.

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Maybe 3 miles down or so. It’s great just scooting along down hill.

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I get to Indian Gardens, 4.5 miles from the rim in about 2 hours. Finally there is a map that shows 3.1 miles from here to the river. It’s only 9:00 so I figure I have plenty of time no matter how slow it is going back up. I fill up 2 liters of water and set out for the river.

This section is the corkscrew, not a lot of switchbacks just a giant spiral down into the canyon.

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Almost there

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I reached the river at 10:00, 3 hours and 7.6 miles down from the rim. It feels great to kick off my boots and wade in the Colorado River, but you can only go out 8 feet or so because of the current.

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A rafting group pulls in and sets up lunch while I’m resting and enjoying the view. It turns out that almost all of the people walking down to the river with me are joining the rafting trip midway through. The rafts started the full trip 6 days ago and they have 8 more days to go. The biggest rapids are supposed to be downstream from here. That is definitely the way to go, walk down then raft out. One thing I didn’t realize is that only the guide has two big oars for steering, everybody else is just a passenger.

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After 45 minutes at the river I have to face the long slog back up. It is 2000′ back up the corkscrew to Indian Gardens and with the sun out it is slow going. A lot of rest and drinking stops, by the time I get to Indian Gardens two hours later I have gone through almost all of the 2 liters I started with. Hung out there drinking water and relaxing in the shade for awhile then continued toward the top. From here there is water every 1.5 miles. After an hour or so the clouds turn dark and it starts to rain. It’s nice to get cool but I only have a pack cover, no poncho, so I have to huddle under a rock overhang until the worst of the storm passes over.

The storm hitting the North Rim

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Finally nearing the top, I can see the railings on the overlooks. Not many people out due to the rain. Made it back to the start of the trail at 5:00, so 10 hours to go 15.2 miles round trip, 5000′ down and back up. I think I drank at least 7 liters of water along the way.

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Leaving Grand Canyon on the way to Page

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Horseshoe Bend outside Page AZ. Fun to sit on the edge of the cliff and take in the view

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A short detour into Utah, camping on the beach in Glen Canyon. I have cleverly framed this picture so you can’t see the 300 RVs, campers, and tents going all the way down the beach. It’s the weekend and this is a popular spot.

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I wanted to hike Antelope Canyon but it’s Labor Day weekend and all of the tours are booked until Tuesday. Instead I set off across Navajo country towards New Mexico.

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1 thought on “Arizona”

  1. Chris, after reading about your trek down to the river and back, it seems all those years as a unix SA did not make you soft. I don’t think i would have made it back up in one day.

    Like

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