Last weekend we hiked the Grand Canyon from Rim to Rim in 3 days. The Grand Canyon is 6000 feet deep dug by the Colorado River over 70 million years.
The history of the earth is brought to light by the eroded walls of the canyon. The quality of the trail, the astonishing views and the unique wildlife made it one of the most remarkable hikes we have ever done.
There are many ways to hike the Grand Canyon.
We started in the North Rim, slept 2 nights in the canyon and hiked out the third day in the morning through the south rim.
Grand Canyon's North Rim
Accessible only by car, the north is the "best side" - as a gardener who worked there said.
Located in a charming sub-alpine forest inhabited by deers and bisons, is more elegant, delicate and dignified than the overcrowded South Rim, which looks like a shopping center.
We had to wait two days to get the permits to camp in the canyon, so in the meantime we camped outside in the woods. Permits can be obtained online (+/- 5 months in advance). You can ask for permits when you get there, but there are few available. As a good Brazilian, I relied on luck and asked there for the permits, and it worked.
Weather conditions in the area are extreme. It was the end of May and it snowed for a few hours the night before starting the hike. We camped, but on the north rim there is also a lodge, with rooms starting at $ 150 per night.
First day - Hiking Downward
The previous night, under a lot of snow, rain and cold we organized the backpack that would take: a tent, sleeping bags, food, utensils to cook, heat and water.
We woke up and went to the entrance of the Kaibab trail. The elevation from north rim to river is 1780m, along a 15-mile trail. We divided this hike in two days.
The first day we did the steepest part of the descent in about 5 hours (7 miles) - which injured our knees! Entering the canyon is an amazing experience. There are many overlooks and you hike through different layers of rocks, each formed in different geological time (sandstone, limestone, and schist of different colors).
We slept in Cotton Wood campground: with enough privacy between tents and around a crystalline water stream running through the rocks. The campsites provide a flat space for a tent and tables and chairs.
As you hike down, of course, the temperature increases. So we could swim in the river, sunbathe and have dinner before nightfall.
Before going to bed, we watched the stars: for the first time in my life, I could see the Milky Way. Images that only the desert provides.
Second day - Hiking in the Canyon
Second day the same ritual: pack all the stuff, dismantle the tent, have a big breakfast and hike! That day the hike would be 7 miles, mostly flat. The idea was to reach the Colorado River. After hiking the first mile, we took a secondary trail for 20 minutes to reach the spectacular Ribbon waterfalls.
The view from the bottom of the waterfall is very impressive due to the water slowly falling on a huge wall of algae. But the breathtaking views await behind the waterfall: A strong water fountain falling in a completely dry canyon. Bathing in these waters was like a purification ritual: unforgettable.
The Grand Canyon is a system of canyons formed by the Colorado River, but also for all secondary rivers that flow into it.
The trail to get to the Colorado River runs all the time in these secondary canyons, very deep and narrow with walls of schist (Volcanic rocks older than 1700 million years).
Although relatively flat, this part of the trail it is very hot, dry and challenging.
We hiked 7 miles to reach the Bright Angel campground. Campsites are next to each other and lack of protection from the sun. As you approach the south rim, there are more and more people and that can sometimes bother you. We left the backpacks there and finally went to see the Colorado River!
The Colorado is a strong, deep and powerful river that runs through the most arid region of North America.
It is not allowed to swim, but we ignored that (after all, we didn't come down to not get there).
We relaxed at the river's edge. If we had gone further, we wouldn't be able to deal with the rapids.
Third Day - Hiking Upward to Exit the Grand Canyon
The previous night, we commented that leaving the canyon would be hard: not only for the physical effort itself, but also because we were already attached to the place. Being in such a great and sublime place is something that touches. It would be hard to leave, or go back. The "back" already seemed to be there, the feeling was to let go.
The effort began early in the morning, 4am! We knew that starting after 6am would be a pain in the ass because the sun would hit our head and punish our bodies along all the way up. Stress, run and 6am left. We crossed the bridge ... five months waiting to get to this river ... it was hard to say goodbye to the Colorado. We made the 9 mile ascent in 5 hours, 4500 feet of elevation gain. A lot of physical effort and mental determination "follow, follow." The trail rewards you with every layer of rock that rises, and the joy of having been part of it all. Feeling that this is also yours, and you are this.
After all mental trances that such kind of effort generates, when we realized that we were finishing, that farewell tear fell and mission accomplished. Joy in the heart, peaceful mind ...
We looked back: wow, we hiked all the way down and up of all this shit! 27 years well celebrated.
What we did last weekend? We had fun in nature!
24 miles - Print Map and Directions