Grand Canyon National Park
Restoration: Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim Again
This page contains our personal notes on our second rim-to-rim-to-rim backpack along the Main Corridor within Grand Canyon National Park.
|Thursday, September 21, 2000|
Anne prepared a dehydrated Mexican omelet for breakfast. Again, it was pretty good. At least it had some flavor. After cleaning up and packing we left Cottonwood Camp by about 7:50 a.m.
It was a hard climb, as expected, but we made good time. There was a steady wind, but that may have helped by keeping things cool. Janine and I did a little better than Anne or Kathy. Anne struggled with stomach cramps, which seemed to sap her strength, while Kathy developed a nasty blister on the heel of her right foot. It seemed that the weight of her pack drug her down as well. But even with our struggles, we arrived at the campground on the North Rim by about 1:45 p.m. Roughly five hours after we left Cottonwood. This included a long stop at the rest area just above the Supai Tunnel.
The fellow who had camped next to us left camp about thirty minutes before we did. We passed him on the trail and eventually beat him to the top. We did see him one last time after we ate lunch at the Lodge cafeteria. He seemed to be just arriving as we walked back toward the campground.
Earlier, as we were preparing to leave Cottonwood, I filled our water bottles at the faucet near the Ranger Station. There I met a young fellow headed to the North Rim. He told me that he had spent the night at Bright Angel Camp and had already been on the trail for several hours. Later, we caught up with him at the Pump House, where he rested under the shade of the trees. But then later, when we stopped to apply mole skin to Kathy’s blister, he passed us for the last time. I caught a glimpse of him ahead of us on one set of switchbacks, but never saw him again.
We also met a pair of British fellows and a British woman on the climb up. They were part of a larger group, and all seemed nice and spoke with us quite a bit as we leap-frogged our way to the rim.
On this portion of the hike we decided that we needed the extra water, so we shortened the time between our scheduled water stops from 30 to every 20 minutes. In addition, we took off our packs at every other stop to give our shoulders and hips a rest. That seemed to help. We were also able to refresh our water at the Pump House and again at the Supai Tunnel.
The trail, from Cottonwood up, was in pretty bad shape in many places. The worst that we’ve seen it on our various trips across. It seems the mules have really chopped it up. I don’t know if they have increased the number of mules or mule trains, or if it’s just the end of the season and the annual trail work has yet to be done. Whatever the case, it makes for difficult hiking, especially when struggling up with a loaded pack.
As we rested at the Supai Tunnel a group of about six men arrived, heading down. They stopped for water, so I spoke with a couple of them, and found that they were spending the night at Cottonwood. I suggested that they stay in Site 1 if it was open, because of the shade. Then I asked how far they were going the next day. They told me they would be in Cottonwood for two nights. I then suspected that I had probably made a mistake in telling them about the good shady site, because if they got it, they would still be there when we headed back the next day.
After we made it to the campground on the North Rim we set up our tents in the chilling wind. Then walked the 1.5 miles to the lodge where we made reservations for dinner. We then grabbed some lunch in the cafeteria. This has never been one of the top dining facilities within the national park system, but at least the tasteless burgers get you by until the evening meal.
On the way back to camp we saw several wild turkeys running along ahead of us on the trail, a black Kaibab squirrel, and a few regular gray squirrels. The Kaibab squirrels are large, not very cute, and are mostly black with a reddish fur on their backs. They have tufted ears, with striking white paws and tails.
Since we knew we would have the time, and would be near the facilities, we had scheduled a laundry stop and showers. So we walked up to the laundry building, which is along the paved road that enters the campground, just east of the General Store. While Kathy and I showered, Anne and Janine began the laundry, washing whatever clothes we weren’t wearing. Then we swapped places. There are several shower stalls on each side, and we paid $1.25 for 5 to 7 minutes of warm water. At least it got the grime off and we were able to wash our hair. But sitting outside in the chilled air with wet hair wasn’t too pleasant.
Of course, the machines only took quarters, and we didn’t have enough between us, so before we could get scrubbed and clean Anne and Janine had to walk down to the General Store while Kathy and I guarded our dirty laundry from any wayward turkeys and squirrels.
After we all became presentable, and our laundry was dry, on our way back to camp we stopped at the General Store for treats. In camp we sat under the tall pines and absorbed the fresh air and the scent of pine.
The only dinner reservations we could get were for 9:00 p.m., so we had to walk the mile and a half to the Lodge in the dark. We used our little flashlights to avoid tripping on a stone or root along the trail. When we came up close to the road we decided that route might be safer, and that’s how we got lucky. One of the trans-canyon shuttles passed by and stopped. The driver, named Frank, picked us up and gave us a ride most of the way to the Lodge. Our meal there was excellent as usual.
By the time we finished eating the weather had changed. Our walk back in the dark was complicated by strong, chilling wind. We had thin rain jackets which helped some, but we really hadn’t come prepared for the cool temperatures. We didn’t turn in until after 10:30 p.m., and all night the wind roared and boomed through the tops of the tall pines. Not exactly the peaceful nights rest we had anticipated.