Hike the Grand Canyon they said, it’ll be easy they said. Well I’ll tell you this, it was a breeze all six miles down but the six miles back up were crippling. I’m probably not painting such a glamorous, awe-inspiring picture for you right now but I promise it was hands down one of the best experiences of my travelling life!
We chose to hike the Bright Angel Trail – it was described as much safer than the hike all the way down to the Colorado River. Not that the CR trek is particularly unsafe, but factor in the heat and our levels of expertise, it was probably wise to steer clear. Truth be told though had we attempted the more difficult route, I probably would have had to be helicoptered out of there! I already experienced nose bleeds galore at Plateau Point so can only imagine what would have happened a
little lot further down.
I remember part way back up one of the park rangers suggested another hike – South Kaibab Trail – for us to do right after this one. Of course she didn’t factor in our level of fitness (or unfitness should I say) and the fact that she was an absolute beast who managed to do this stuff with ease everyday. Not only that, we were slightly unprepared for the hike, with one of my friends choosing the fine attire of Lacoste trainers. Regardless, he faired much better than me and my walking shoes…
If you plan to do this hike the best time to hike is really early in the morning and be out before the midday sun hits. We woke up at about 5am and aimed to be on the trail by 6am, However it took us a little longer than expected to actually find the entrance to the walk…. hence the amateur title! Anyway, it is important to get it completed before the midday sun hits, as there is only about three water points between the top and Plateau Point. As the heat increases you’ll use more water and not just for drinking, the rest you’ll be pouring over yourself – trust me!
You’ve heard me mention Plateau Point, and basically the aim of the game in this walk is to reach it. After dashing down the many rocky switchbacks, you will venture through Indian Gardens and then on to PP. As we stopped at Indian Gardens I saw my first ever raven, and guess what they are way bigger than crows – you laugh but I didn’t realise the difference until one of those beasts was right in front of me! Anyway, you’ll stop for water before moving into the direct sunlight, and last stretch to picture perfect heaven. The only way I can describe the heat upon leaving Indian Gardens, is similar to walking into a sauna you can’t escape from. Or maybe the analogy of a volcano might be more fitting…either way it’s hot, hot, hot. Might I add this was before the midday sun hit though, but then we did walk it in August so we only really have ourselves to blame.
By the time we reached PP, we were all amazed by the spectacular views, and one things for certain, no one could have told me that if I walked six miles into the earth I would still feel vertigo. That’s right, over this flimsy looking bar was an incredible drop down the canyon to the Colorado River.
The hike back up was painful to say the least, and the switchbacks greatly mocked me. My friend continued to use the phrase “this is the last one”, it lost it’s motivation when he said it about 20 times.
Despite all my complaining here, words can’t describe how magnificent it was, and I would jump at the chance to experience it all again. Suffice to say, if you plan on doing it I recommend a tonne of water, hike when the sun is low and be prepared for the incline on the way back up. Oh, and you’ll need to write off the next day as your legs and feet will not be working!
There are points to this trek I’m forgetting to mention, specifically how much wildlife I never expected to see. When we first joined the trail and began the decline, we saw baby deer peeking their heads around onto the path, and at our Grand Canyon camp site, elk just walked around like it was no biggie. Not to mention the gopher that tried to break into our tent…
Overall, the Grand Canyon was a perfect mixture of wildlife and mind blowing scenery – and definitely in my top ten life experiences. I could talk all day long about it but I’ll leave you with this last snap for now.
*All picture rights reserved.