Grand Canyon – Part 2

The plan was to get to work at 6am so we could leave by 3pm and drive to Ash Fork.
Its about 5 hours from Temecula and about an hour from the Canyon and has a cheap motel.
The plan worked.
We took Freddys Honda (for the cruise control and good economy) and the drive over was uneventful.
At the motel, we were tired, but figured that packing that night was the best plan, that way we could sleep till about 5am and then just get up and go.

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Love this shot of Lloyd scratching his head…. His backpack was smaller than mine and so he had to make some pretty tough choices as to what he was going to take.
The upside of that smaller pack was less weight. Lloyds pack was about 18 pounds (8kg), mine was 37 lb (16kg).

The reason for the early start was because in our trip, we were going to come out of the Canyon at a different place from where we went in. This meant that we had to park the car at our exit and then get back to the entrance (for us). This is really common, so there is a bus that runs back and forth between the two most common entry and exit points at the South Rim. (And another bus that will take you over to the North rim if you are doing a rim2rim hike – or run).
The ‘Hiker Express’ runs every hour, and Lloyd and I wanted to get the 8am bus. That way we would have time to drive up to the Canyon, get breakfast and get on the bus and hike down to our first nights camp spot and not get there too late to do much other than set up.

For the most part, this plan worked… Just not so much the breakfast thing…… Thankfully we grabbed some coffee along the way.

Here is a shot inside the Hiker Express.

It was a bit cool as you can see from all the beanies and long sleeves, but it was not freezing, just cool.
The chatter in the bus was mostly about where you’re from, have you done the hike before and how far are you going that day.
It does not take long and the bus is at our take off point, the South Kaibab Trailhead.

Lloyd filled up his pack water bladder from the spring. This is the last water (and dunnies) till you get to the bottom, so it was a popular activity.

Once thats done, there is nothing more to do than hoist the pack and strike off.
The path is cement for the first few meters, but soon becomes a packed dirt track. For the next 3.5 days, it was dirt and rocks from here on.


The fog was really nice, the forecast was for rain that afternoon (which never happen) and fine days the rest of the trip, so we were enjoying the cloud and fog.
It was especially nice as we were, at the rim, about level with the bottom of the cloud, so as we went into the Canyon, we left the cloud base behind, it was a really nice feeling.


Switchbacks were going to a common thing. I honestly had no idea what to expect, so was pretty excited to see the path ahead so often. It was pretty cool to see that it was going down so fast and how it was carved into the sides of the steep canyon walls.


At the top there were a few hikers bunched up, but we soon spread out as we all struck our own pace.


At first, Lloyd and I were going at around the same pace, but as we warmed up I found I naturally hit a faster pace. It was no big deal, I was stopping at every vista point and Lloyd soon caught up with me.



As the cloud lifted, the temperatures warmed up, the sky got blue and it was just a really nice day for a hike.

I was still, even after about an hour and a bit of seeing the track ahead of me, pretty excited every time we came around a curve and saw a bit of trail.


By this stage Lloyd’s knees are giving him a bit of a hard time and so the gap between the two of us is getting wider, but there were no issues as we simply waited for him at each point.

Here is a shot of Lloyd waiting for the mules to pass. I don’t know what this path would be like in summer with people going up and down and then the mule traffic. It would be too much for me I suspect.
Thankfully, there was very little traffic the weekend we were there, but even so, there were enough people wanting to talk it started to annoy me and the mules just added to the frustration of the trail…. That said, it was so beautiful that you soon forgot about standing with 37 pounds on your back and not moving.

Here is this parts last picture.
It was really important to Lloyd that we got this shot as he struck this pose back in about 1988 when he first did the Canyon and every trip since (yes, he has the shot on film).
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Read Part 3 here.

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