When we told people we were hiking to the bottom of Grand Canyon, we got two reactions. Either people were awed or they thought we were crazy (mostly the latter :-)) Grand canyon is one of the most popular national parks in the US, nearly five million people visit the park annually; however most just take a look at the canyon from the top and leave. Grand Canyon is meant to be seen, yes, but it’s also meant to be explored. And while seeing the Grand Canyon from the top of the rim is breathtaking, the real experience comes from hiking down into the canyon and feeling it’s power and beauty all around you.
Last August we got reservations at the Phantom Lodge for two nights and we planned trip to the Grand Canyon. Note: Phantom Ranch is the only lodging facility below the canyon rim, and it tends to get sold out very soon so you need to book it in advance. We booked our stay for Aug 2015 in Aug 2014 (and we were considered lucky to get reservations!)
Our plan was to hike down South Kaibab Trail (7.1 miles) and hike up via the Bright Angel Trail (9.2 miles)
We started bright and early that morning and we were at the South Kaibab trailhead around 5.30 am. We got to see a beautiful view of the grand canyon at dawn as light was just breaking through.
But apparently, it was not early enough, as a couple of hours in around 8.00 am, it started getting hot! The canyon acts as an oven and red rocks radiate heat making the temperature go up to an average of 125 degrees F.
But the views as we climbed down were remarkable and unique. Seeing the canyon from inside-up rather than top-down gave a different perspective.
Ooh Aah Point
Upon reaching the bottom, we crossed over the Colorado River on a suspension foot bridge, known as the Silver Bridge.
We finally made it to the bottom; tired and exhausted. Unfortunately we got separated from 2 of our group members and all of us kept on looking for each other. Eventually things worked out, we found each other and had a fabulous time during our stay at Phantom Ranch.
Our cabin at the Ranch
We were surrounded by small streams and beautiful waterfalls that we had fun jumping into. At night we could see clear skies with millions of stars peeking out. The stay at Phantom lodge was a friendly affair with family style meal and shared stories with other hikers. We even mailed ourselves postcards stamped with Phantom Ranch post mark 🙂
Heading back we started our hike even earlier. We were at the Bright Angel trailhead around 3.30 am, which meant we covered a lot of ground before the sun came out in full swing while enjoying the view along the way. Hiking up was by far less strenuous and more enjoyable. The Bright Angel also had quite a few water stops and shade to cool off.
View of the Colorado River as we were hiking up
Finally reached the top
All in all, hiking the Grand Canyon was an amazing experience. Exhausting – Yes, Tiring – Yes, but totally unique. I would recommend it to anyone who has the ability to do it. However If we could do this hike again, I would avoid hiking in the month of July & August. It is the brutally hot inside the canyon, especially the part known as the “box”. In fact, I would all together avoid a day hike and preferably hike in the night on a full moon and see canyon come alive under the moon light.