Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Grand Canyon - Rim to Rim under Full Moon

September 10, 2014

Hiking from one rim of the the Grand Canyon to the other is a physical and logistical challenge.  My buddy, Michael, his wife Emilie, and some other family and friends of his, obtained a permit to camp in the canyon over 6 months ago.  They applied for dates in late September and they were given permits for a 1 night at Phantom Ranch on September 8th and 1 night at Indian Garden on September 9th.  When it comes to camping in the Grand Canyon, beggars can't be choosers (and we're all beggars).  Their plan was to start at the North Rim and backpack across to the South Rim in 3 days and 2 nights.  However, that meant once they reached the South Rim, their car would be 177 miles away by road but only 23 miles by trail.  That's where I come in.  

Michael called me 4 days ago and the conversation went like this:

Michael: "Hey, what's your schedule like on Tuesday evening and Wednesday?" 

Me: "I'm free all day on Wednesday if I need to be.  I have class until 2 pm on Tuesday. Why?"

Michael: "What do you think about meeting me at Indian Garden on Tuesday night and hiking over to the North Rim on Wednesday?"
Me: "Sounds fun, I'm down."

Fast forward to Tuesday evening...I drove from Flagstaff to the South Rim and hiked down with my overnight gear 4.5 miles, ~3000 ft. to Indian Garden where I met Michael and his family.  I brought them bananas and muffins for breakfast for the following morning.  I ate a Chipotle burrito for dinner that I got to-go in Flagstaff. 

Michael: "What do you think about leaving tonight instead tomorrow morning?"

Me: "Yeah sure man, it's up to you."

So instead of negotiating crowds of people, mules, fresh mule crap, and the heat of the sun, we chose to hike across the Grand Canyon in the dark, under the full moon, by ourselves amongst less fresh mule crap.  In the end, it was the best decision.  The entire canyon was illuminated all night by the bright moon.  I barely used my headlamp.  The temperatures were mild and at times, chilly.  Once on the North Kaibab Trail, we didn't see anyone until we were less than a mile from the North Rim, which we reached around sunrise.  It took us ~11 hours to hike from the South Rim to the North Rim via the Bright Angel and North Kaibab Trails with an overnight load (which I didn't end up using) - 23 miles, 5,000 ft. drop, 6,000 ft. gain.  

Bright Angel Trailhead
Bright Angel Trail with Indian Garden below
The Battleship
Indian Garden at sunset
Hi. I'm Kirk and I'm fat
Indian Garden, 30 second exposure 
Colorado River
North Kaibab Trail 
Roaring Springs Canyon