Kaibab Lodge to Grand Canyon’s North Rim

Someone who works here told us that, if we were ever feeling down in the future, Grand Canyon’s North Rim is where we’d want to be transported to. This is no overstatement. We hiked down and up the more touristy, lower elevation, South Rim 2 years ago (coincidentally also on our anniversary – the 21st will be our 5th) and, while very beautiful, it doesn’t come close to North Rim’s 9000 ft (3000 m) magic-carpet-flying-over-infinite-natural-remoteness feeling.

Ruth and Dave, our new friends, very kindly gave us a ride back to the trail at East Rim view, north of Grand Canyon, 2 days ago, along with a lot of much-needed encouragement. In the parking lot, a lady spied our packs and asked us where we were headed. When we said “Mexico”, she burst out laughing like it was the best joke she’d heard all year…

20120918-165818That day, we had a fairly easy hike to the Grand Canyon National Park’s northern boundary. At lunchtime, we’d just finished cooking on the cemented top of Sourdough Well, which we hoped wasn’t an explosive gas well, when two ladies startled us, as we’ve hardly seen anyone else on the trail, and startled us again when they explained that they too were headed to Mexico on the Arizona Trail. They’re enjoying a little more luxury, as they have a support vehicle reputedly carrying cold beer and single malt whisky, as well as the heavy camping gear. We’re envious of the lighter packs and alcoholic treats for sure, but like our independence and finally feel like we’re getting both fitter and smarter about the contents of our backpacks. That night, we camped just outside the Grand Canyon National Park boundary fence; another cold, damp night, with added bobbly ground under our carefully chosen tent spot.

Yesterday, 17th Sep, we hiked over 15 miles from Grand Canyon National Park’s northern boundary to the Canyon’s North Rim. This was our highest day-mileage yet and we were pleased to find we were still walking, talking and looking forward to pizza and beer at the end of it. The truth is that, contrary to my normal attempts to be a super-healthy eater, I’m having to eat like a hungry horse on this hike, just to avoid losing too much weight. If it’s edible and I saw it first, it’s in my tummy.

We arrived at North Rim without a reservation, as we didn’t know when we’d get here, and all out of luck on walk-in availability, but a very kind man named Bob, from Utah, saw “exhausted”, “please save us from walking a mile back to the campsite” and “help!” written on our foreheads and conjured up a cabin room for us. THANK YOU, Bob!

Today, needing more rest, after a few hours wait, a very nice lady at reception finally announced that she’d had a cancellation and gave us the key to a snug motel room with pine tree views, which is where we’re gathering strength, washing socks and treating blisters right now, high on espressos from the first espresso machine we’ve had the fortune to encounter on this trip.

Thanks to former Arizona Trail solo hiker turned Grand Canyon backcountry permit manager Heidi, who managed to walk up to an awe-inspiring 36 miles/ day, we now have our in-canyon permits and campsite spots for the next 2 days. We leave tomorrow, 19th Sep, after an essential stop to bid a sad farewell to the espresso machine, and should manage to haul ourselves up the spectacularly steep last 8 miles to South Rim on Friday 21st Sep. We’re sending some of our luggage ahead, but the 21st will still probably be the hardest day’s hiking on this trail.

Wish us luck!

“Horny” toads spotted to date: 21
Deer spotted to date: Too many to count
Françoise’s blister count: 4
Glenn’s blister count: 1

1 Comment

  1. Ruth & Dave Slaughter
    Tuesday 18 September 2012, 9:33 pm

    Hooray!! It sounds like all is working out just as it should–enjoy the wonderful journey & experience–and keep the witty updates coming!!:)

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