AZT Day 4: Into the Grand Canyon


Saturday, September 29
Miles: 19.2 ish (plus a bonus mile or so)
Starting/ending: 64.3/83.5
Camp elevation: 4058 ft

I wake at 7. Send Jared an inReach message. The battery on the inReach and phone are both low! I slept ok on the lumpy ground once I found the right depression for my butt. I was warm after going to sleep, but my hands and arms were freezing and I was shivering, so after eating some chocolate I felt much better.

Stove at last! Ramen for breakfast. Coffee shot thing. Way too caffeinated! Pack up. On the trail at 8:15. Where do I get a permit for the Grand Canyon? Unclear. Hike a few miles to the entrance station. There the Ranger says get it at the backcountry station 10 mi ahead. Hike on. Parallel the road. In the trees. It’s windy this morning. Flattish. Kinda boring.

I break every hour for a small snack, water and charging break. I’m rounding a switchback, when all of a sudden – BUFFALO! On the trail! it hears me and goes crashing down hill through the woods. Crazy! I cross the road. Three mountain bikers. A day hiker. A couple on a back road who smell so clean from 20 yards away. My last break is at 1:30. I dry my feet, elevate. They are in rough shape and need some care. Hike the last mile to the Bridal Trail junction, where the hike into the canyon will begin.

From there, to the Backcountry Rangers Station, where I’m second in line. It’s 2:30pm. The ranger warns of weather ahead. A hurricane is coming in and rain may start Sunday evening. Today is Saturday. Gotta hurry through the canyon if possible. Marie and George show up. We mag the stock campsite, reserved for through hikers, at Cottonwood campground 8 mile away for tonight. Great!

I rush to the store and charge things as much as possible, blog a bit, catch up with Jared, email. I get sunscreen (I am a little burned after all) and eat snacks and an organic Gatorade (not as good). I’ll head out at 4. Chat with a guy doing rim to rim to rim via Phantom Ranch (the uber pricey ranch on the canyon), whose daughter went to Dartmouth, and then he tries to manplain that injuries happen when people start too fast on a long distance trail. Thanks, dink.

It’s 4:20! I have to go! 8 miles before dark? I’ll try. It’s all downhill, right? Back down the Bridal Trail to the canyon rim. Trying to hike quickly, but man, it’s perty! I take many pics as I descent the north rim of the Grand Canyon. And pass many people coming up. Lots of hikers and trail runners. Many are in rough shape. I share some water with an old guy who is 3 miles from the top – yikes! Hope he’s ok.

I pass through all the rock layers and geologic time. The vegetation changes from high desert to low desert, with agave and cactus. I hike-run. Four trail runners slow down to chat and they pace me into camp.

I get there right before dark, and Marie and George just got there. We settle in. The Ranger comes by to check on us. Darkness settles in. Cook dinner – Patagonia Provisions green lentil soup – good! We get water at the creek. First use for the Sawyer Squeeze!

My feet are rough. Lance more blisters. So dry! Need balm. The Phantom Ranch-Dartmouth guy is in my head – can I do it? My knees hurt, my feet hurt, yada, yada. cowboy camp tonight. So warm! So many stars! The sky is beautiful down here. Milky Way and all the things are out. Hopefully no bugs are critters to crawl across me in the night. Sleep.

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