I own no land, instead I have wheelestate. I’ve been a full time RVer since 1997. Working summers as a Park Ranger takes me to many beautiful places and playing during the winter takes me to many more. This blog is simply the story of my life's adventures.


Thank you for stopping by. Just to let you know, I'm still blogging but have moved to Geogypsytraveler. Hope you'll follow my adventures. Just click here.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Hiking Grand Canyon – Day 1 on the South Kaibab trail or It’s all downhill from here

01 Gaelyn & Mike at S Kaibab trailhead SR GRCA NP AZ (800x600)

Being only a 7 mile (11.1 km) hike down the South Kaibab trail to Bright Angel campground us “retirees” were in no rush to hit the trail at the crack of a below freezing dawn. We hit the trailhead at 10:30am.

02 S Kaibab trail switchbacks called The Chimney SR GRCA NP AZ pano (638x800)

Only a little snow on the rim and trail but we still put on our ice grippers then dropped over the edge to descend along switchbacks called The Chimney over through the 270 million year old Kaibab and Toroweap limestones.

03 O'Neill Butte S Kaibab trail GRCA NP AZ pano (800x315)

O’Neill Butte

We continued our descent 1140 feet (348 m) past the 275 million year old Coconino sandstone to Cedar Ridge which sits on 280 million year old Hermit shale. This is a popular 3 mile (4.8 km) round-trip day hike destination and stopped to snack and enjoy the spectacular views. Already two hours into our hike and only 5 miles (8 km) to go. Feeling good!

04 O'Neill Butte S Kaibab trail GRCA NP AZ (800x600)

O’Neill Butte up close

This butte was named after Buckey O’Neill who prospected in the canyon during the 1890s and promoted the railroad to the South Rim.

05 Gaelyn S Kaibab trail GRCA NP AZ (800x600)

The endless views stopped us in our tracks almost every step of the way. Or was it the subtle aching in our knees?

06 Panoramic view N & NW from Skeleton Point S Kaibab trail GRCA NP AZ (800x151)

From Skeleton Point (don’t ask why it’s named that) I could see the North Rim in the far distance and with binoculars just make out the Grand Lodge.

07 The Tonto Platform & N Rim above Phantom Ranch from S Kaibab trail GRCA NP AZ (332x800)

Looking over the edge I could even see Phantom Ranch, our destination for the next two nights, nestled in the fall colored trees. So close yet still 3.9 miles (6.3 km) away.

08 The Red and Whites switchbacks S Kaibab trail GRCA NP AZ (743x800)

The next 500 vertical feet (150 m) of switchbacks, called The Red and Whites, drop along the 340 million year old Redwall limestone.

09 Natural Arch from S Kaibab trail GRCA NP AZ (800x521)

I had to remind myself to look back up once in awhile and was rewarded with this natural arch high above.

10 Mike at The Tipoff s Kaibab trail GRCA NP AZ pano (795x800)

Yet most important was keeping my eyes on the trail, like at The Tipoff which plunges into the 1600 foot (488 m) deep Granite Gorge. Only 2.3 miles (3.7 km) to go.

11 Colorado R W from Panorama Point S Kaibab trail GRCA NP AZ pano (800x467)

With more views…

12 Panorama Point S Kaibab trail GRCA NP AZ (800x600)

…at Panorama Point.

13 Switchbacks above tunnel S Kaibab trail GRCA NP AZ (800x600)

Then only 1200 feet (366 m), straight down, plus just over a mile more to the tunnel, Black Bridge and Colorado River through the 1.7 billion year old Vishnu Schist. Oh no, not more down. By now my right knee was very tender.

14 Sunset over confluence Co R & Bright Angel Crk & Phantom Ranch from S Kaibab trail GRCA NP AZ (600x800)

Once again I could see our destination and it seemed so close at hand. But it wasn’t until after sunset that we walked into Bright Angel campground, 7.5 hours after having left the South Rim.

15 Fuzzy Mike on Black Bridge GRCA NP AZ (800x600)

We were exhausted. This is the first time I’ve had problems with my knees going downhill. Thank goodness we could enjoy a complete day of recovery in the bottom of the canyon before making the climb back out.

I will post more of this four day hike, but in the meantime I hope you’ll check out another perspective in Mike’s post by clicking here.


Mark Alan Meader said...

Beautiful views, and must be the perfect time of year to do this.. away from the crowds and heat. Really interesting.. thanks.

Diane said...

Gaelyn I am sure that I would spend so long looking at those wonderful views and taking photos that I would never get from A to B. :-) Diane

Christine said...

What a fantastic hike. Thanks for taking along your camera and enduring the pain of descent! Baby that knee for awhile.

Johnny Nutcase said...

fun fun fun stuff! what an awesome hike! Love all the pictures. (i'd much rather go uphill than downhill...bugs my knees sometimes, blah).

Ann, Chen Jie Xue 陈洁雪 said...

The two of you are awesome.

Next time, come to New Zealand and do the Tongoriro crossing.

Elaine said...

Wow! What a beautiful hike! I'm happy to see it through your photos because I know my knees would never handle it, not to mention my "little" problem of dealing with heights.

Nina F said...

Gorgeous pix, Gaelyn. More hiking into GC is definitely on my geological bucket list!

Ms. Becky said...

I'm usually just a lurker here, but these photos are so fantastic, I want to say hello and thank you for sharing such beauty.

Al said...

I'd love to hike into the canyon. Maybe one of these years...

Karen said...

You always have the most beautiful photos from your hikes. I am so so jealous, but I know my knees and my hip aren't going to let me take that hike.

Janie said...

Looks a little chilly up top, but you certainly had some fantastic views.
That much downhill with a heavy backpack makes my knees hurt every time.

Barb said...

Just GRAND, Gaelyn - hope your knees survived! I've hiked that trail and carrying a heavy pack, it does put some tension on the knees and back.

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Wow, it would be hard to hike and not photograph everything in sight.

Katney said...

My knees definitely would protest. I carry elastic knee braces always.

Firefly the Travel Guy said...

Those views are priceless. Stunning. I specially love the view down towards the river and the trees contrasted against the dry surroundings. I could feel the cold in that first photo.

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