Thursday, October 27, 2011

National Parks: The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is the most visited park in the United States, with over 4 million visitors each year. Two weekends ago, I was one of those 4 million. Apparently only 1% ever venture into the canyon itself...

My friend, George, Marine and Lawyer, is stationed in Yuma, AR so we decided to meet at the Grand Canyon. To save gas and time we decided to meet at the bottom of the canyon instead of either or us driving all the way around to either rim. (The North and South Rim are only 10 miles apart as a bird flies, but 200 miles by car!)

So Luke and I made it down to the North Rim in 6 hours from Provo, UT on a thursday afternoon and arrived after hours at the park. (Hint: if you don't want to pay $20-25 bucks to get into a national park, arrive after 10 pm) Meanwhile, George was arriving at the South Rim with a friend of his.

Friday morning we all took off to meet at the river by 11 am. Luke and I started hiking at 6:30 am with our long johns, beanies and headlamps to make the 14 mile trek to the river and 14 mile trek back to the rim in one day. We took the North Kaibab Trail which winds its way down a tributary canyon all the way to the Colorado River. We jogged in places and walked quickly in others, passing the casual hikers, but we were passed by a couple of trail runners doing the rim to rim trek. We made it to the river by 10 am (14 miles in 3.5 hours). Now we just had to find George and hike back up to the North Rim together.

Unfortunately, not everything went as planned. After 3 hours of confusion, we found eachother, George developed some heinous blisters due to a bad pair of tennis shoes, and the day was ending quickly. 4 miles up the North Kaibab Trail to the North Rim, Geore couldn't walk any longer. He had to turn back to the South Rim. After "repairing" his shoes and getting some food, George and his friend hobbled off back to the car on the South Rim.

I felt really bad for George. Blisters are not fun, especially when they cover your entire foot. George survived the night and made it back his car. Luke and I cruised back up to the North Rim in a couple of hours. Luke and I completed our 28 mile day hike in 10 hours.

Things to know about Grand Canyon National Park:
-Best time of year to visit: October
-North Rim is less visited and still offers great views of the canyon.
-Enter the park after 10 pm and you enter for free!
-If you want to camp legally in the park, get a reservation.
-If you are hungry after hiking 28 miles, eat at the North Rim lodge (excellent breakfast buffet)