Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Arizona, Day 3 & 4: Hiking South to North and the North Rim...

We woke up at 1:45 am on Saturday to get ready to hike the 21 miles to the North Rim.  It had been two years since we had hiked, but we did not skip a beat getting ready and out the door by 2:30.

Our group ready to take on the South Kaibab Trail!

We were at the trail and starting at 3:00 am on the dot.  The first part of the hike is my least favorite since it is downhill and in the dark.  I feel like I have to really watch my footing and am really afraid of falling.  Plus, I am not a huge fan of wearing a headlamp and using just put it around my neck instead.

Ken and me at Skeleton Point just as the sun is creeping up

The sunrise is always very beautiful inside the canyon

Ken all bright eyed and bushy tailed at 4:30 am!

As the sun rises, the rocks reflect a beautiful red.  In my opinion, this is the most gorgeous part of the hike during both days.

At the hitching post greeting Mike and Katie

Our friend Grant

Ken enjoying his first site of the Colorado River!

I enjoyed hiking with Ken and Grant for the first part of the day

Making our way toward Phantom Ranch

Crossing the Colorado

Ken's stopped for his signature pose

Grant took a picture of me taking Ken's picture

We arrived at Phantom Ranch and stopped to eat, refill water, and apply some sunscreen and started our journey towards Cottonwood.  I hiked with our friends Bernie and Molly for awhile, until they decided that they wanted to go to Ribbon Falls. I had been to Ribbon Falls before and decided that there was no reason to go again.  I made my way up the large hill before Cottonwood, knowing that I would see Ken and Grant once they arrived there.  

I waited for the boys and started to get worried about them, since I thought they were only 10 minutes behind me.  It turns out, they stopped to play in the stream for a while.  Ken and Grant insisted that I go ahead on the trail.  Knowing how hot it gets in the canyon, I decided to go on and hike the last seven miles alone.  

I was about a mile and half past Cottonwood when I noticed something blocking the trail.  I stopped dead in my tracks and knew what it was.  It was a rattlesnake!  

I just about peed my pants and was not quite sure what to do.  My first thought was that I wished Ken were with me to see!  I, of course, grabbed my phone and took a few pictures of my new friend.

My friend, Ricardo the Rattlesnake


I kind of started to panic a bit.  I was all alone and was kind of scared.  I needed to get passed him, but was not sure what to do.  I was not going to get any closer to him and debated about tossing rocks at him so he would get off the trail.  The reality was that I knew he would shake his rattler and get really mad if I threw rocks at him, so I chose the more Keri approach to get him to move.  

I stood in the middle of the trail, motioned for him to move and said, "Buddy, you have got to move."  Imagine my surprise when he started to slither away!

Ricardo being a good boy and leaving the trail at my request

Naturally, I waited until he was completely off the trail before moving.  I still had a fear that he would leap out after me, even though I was so nice to him.  

After my run in with Ricardo, I was terrified of every sound I heard and kept jumping and screaming anytime I heard movement.  My eyes were glued to the trail, in fear that I would see another rattlesnake.  When in reality, I had hiked the trail six times previously and had never run into a rattlesnake before.  Alas, I was still terrified.

I continued on, passing by the pump house/ranger station.  It is after this area, that in my opinion, the steepest part of the hike happens.  After you cross over the bridge, shit gets real.

I have named this bridge the I cannot believe how steep it is from here on out bridge.

I was in complete sun for the remainder of the trip.  My main goal was just to get out of the Grand Canyon and to hopefully beat the mules.  

I talked to one lady that told me she was terrified of heights and she hiked with me a bit because she was so scared.  I felt bad for her, because I am not one to offer comfort in moments like that.  I am more of the I know it is super steep and you are kind of making me scared now too, type of person.

I could see the Supai Tunnel and knew that I was getting close.  I feel like once I make it to the tunnel, I am home free.  

The Supai Tunnel, you either love or hate what this landmark means

The Supai Tunnel means only 1.7 miles until the end.  Unfortunately, it is 1.7 miles straight up.  I have never minded this part as much, since the trail does become a little on the shady side.  The only bad thing is that I usually run into mules making their way down up back up from the tunnel.  

I ran into three different groups of mules this time.  One of the mules stopped and was eye to eye with me and I was quite concerned that he was thinking about attacking me.  It was then that I realized he had just pooped.  He pooped right next to me.  That was a first.  I ran up the switchback to escape him and was mumbling curse words the entire way.

I saw the medal cart that represents the final switchback and was so excited.  It is a super long switchback, but I finally reached the area where I could see the light and knew the trail head was so close.  

The sign of the final switchback, but don't get excited, it is a long one!

An elderly man stopped me and asked me for help.  The nursing student in me knew I had to help, but the I want to be finished with this hike part of me wanted to leave him in the dust and shout out "SUCKER!".  The nursing part of me won, and I stopped and helped him and we made our way out of the trail together.  

I waited for about 10 minutes and our Rim Wranglers showed up with our drinks.  I spent the next few hours with Patrick, Mary, and Kari laughing and enjoying a few frosty beverages, waiting on the rest of our crew.

Ken finishing South to North!

Abby and me

Rim to rim finishers!

The next day we spent the day at the North Rim relaxing.  We enjoyed lattes, the views, and took a walk to the general store.  It was a beautiful day of relaxation.

The view from the North Rim deck

Up next is the hike from the North Rim to South Rim!

Previous GC Adventures:

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