Grand Canyon June 2017
Dates: June 4-8, 2017
People: Mark, David
- 6-4 (Travel Day)
- 6-5 (Rim-to-Rim, StoN)
- 6-6 (Rim-to-Rim, NtoS)
- 6-7 (Humphreys Peak)
- 6-8 (Rim Trail, Travel Day)
SUNDAY JUNE 4
It was a busy, almost full day today before we even got to leave for the airport. Mom and Dad were in town for the weekend and Luke had soccer games so we had plenty going on. Mid afternoon David got word his flight might be delayed as much as 3 hours. He was also having issues with one of their vehicles complicating his afternoon while trying to leave. Right about the time we all wanted to head to the airport his flight went back to near on time. We left our house just after 4pm for the airport and arrived about 4:45pm. My flight was now listed as 10 minutes late which didn't please me as I only had a 45 minute layover in Chicago. I really didn't want to risk missing my connection to Phoenix. In Detroit airport I grabbed a slice of piece and a Coney Island gyro for supper. My time waiting for flight went pretty quickly. My flight out of Detroit ended up leaving about 20 minutes late.
It was a real quick flight to Chicago and the attendants barely had time to get everyone their drinks. I read a bit on this leg. I had been wanting to get naps everywhere I could because I knew I would be up real late upon arrival in Phoenix, but this first leg was just too short. We arrived in Chicago only 5 minutes late. I had plenty of time to walk to my new gate. I happened to land in Concourse C and my connection was in Concourse B, but still had time. In Chicago they were running late as they were waiting on a new flight crew, so my rush was all for nothing. We left Chicago about 20 minutes late. Amidst it all I had been also texting with David who was only about 30 minutes behind schedule which would work out well.
The fight to Phoenix was 3 1/2 hours so I had plenty of time. I tried to get a nap in but probably only managed about 30 minutes. I had drink coupons along but I didn't use them on the way out wanting to avoid being too tired or dried out. We arrived into Phoenix 5 minutes early so despite all the delays and everything, we still made good time. Imade my way to baggage claim and they came out fast. An 8:55pm arrival and I had bags at 9:18pm. I rode the shuttle out to the rental car area and worked my way through the questions at Advantage Car Rental. We had a mid-size car reserved and Iwas intrigued when the clerk asked me where we were headed. I said Grand Canyon of course. She then tried to tell me the carI had rented probably wouldn't make it because of the hills. I said I drove a tiny car up Pikes Peak last summer, we'd be alright. The car they gave us might have only been an economy car but it got great gas mileage so it worked out. I got my stuff loaded, went to get water for my hydration pack, and by that time David was on the shuttle headed out my way.
We were able to leave the rental place by 10:10pm which was only about 10 minutes later than I had originally hoped. We had scouted out a Walmart in Anthem (just north of Phoenix) ahead of time to stop at and get some basic things. They ended up closing their store at 11p for unexplained reasons so we just missed it. We drove on and hit a Walmart in Flagstaff. The drive up to Flagstaff did involve some hilly interstate and climbing but the little car did just fine. At the Flagstaff Walmart we got some gatorade, a few small snacks for the car and then were on our way. From Flagstaff we took the I-40 route west and on to AZ64 north to Grand Canyon. We had debated ahead of time where and how to get some sleep before the hike. We talked about sleeping in a hotel parking lot in Tusayan for an hour or two but finally decided to drive all the way into the park and take our chances sleeping in the car there for an hour. We never found out for sure if that was allowed. We arrived at the Backcountry Info Lot, Lot D, at 2:15am. There we spent a few minutes repacking our gear. It was 2:35am when we settled in to sleep for a bit. We both reclined our seats back and tried our best for some shut-eye.
MONDAY JUNE 5
After about 2 hours of sleep we were up at 4:35am. We had heard the first of village shuttles rolling by the lot already. We were targeting the Hiker's Express Shuttle at 5am. We would be its first stop after leaving the Bright Angel Lodge and sure enough it was at the BIC about 5:04am. We boarded and were the only ones on except for the bus driver. He waited about 5 minutes and then we took off. We were surprised to see elk at the edge of the parking lot there just munching away like nobody else was there. At the GC Visitor Center the bus picked up two more hikers and that was it for the short drive over to the South Kaibab TH. It was a beautiful morning when we hit the trailhead and we were stoked for the hike.
It was about 4pm when we hit the North Kaibab Trailhead. I don't explain much of what happens next in the trip report, but upon arrival at the North Rim David was in bad shape, likely because of dehydration. We actually debated seeing if we could even find a ride from the trailhead over to the campground. We talked about how this would affect our Tuesday plans getting back to the South Rim. We both agreed he shouldn't hike it. Too much risk of this happening again. So we opted to hike the quarter mile or so up the slight hill to the Admin and Backcountry Offices. Luckily, I had these plotted on my map and we knew where to go. I went inside with the intention of asking first for info about the Trans Canyon Shuttle. As I mentioned my brother was likely dehydrated one of the individuals inside was a Park Ranger and asked if David was outside, I said yes. They asked if they could talk to him and this set things in motion. This Ranger and his wife, also a ranger, came out and checked David over asking all sorts of questions. They finally decided, with David's consent to take him over to a garage where they had an ambulance and the ability to check him out more thoroughly. They had an EMT over there ready to help. They hooked David up to their machines and IV to check over all vitals. Ultimately, we had in some way been hoping they might be able to do this just so we could get answers as to exactly what the problem was. We didn't want anything more serious to be happening. They said most everything looked good and so they proceeded with pumping David full of fluids.
While this was happening, the female ranger figured out that we would be wanting to get to the campground and get our hiker's site. I can't say enough how amazingly wonderful this couple was. Very caring, very helpful, very thoughtful. The female ranger drove me to the campground and helped me check in and get a site, then drove me out to the hiker's area. She dropped me off and then said they'd bring David out when he was good. This allowed me to setup camp and then get on the phone with Dad to get help looking into the Trans Canyon Shuttle. At this point I didn't know for sure what David's outcome would be, even considering the slight possibility they may hospitalize him. I had Dad call TCS to see if they had availability and they seemed to have plenty. I wanted to at least know our options when David arrived. The views from the Hiker/Biker camping were exceptional. Cell signal was average. I waited awhile until finally the two rangers brought David back and said he was stable and doing better. They had continued to think things over and said they would give David 15 minutes to get his stuff settled at camp, then they'd be back to give us a ride to the North Rim Lodge for food. They even tried to get us a table in the reservation-only nice dining. Sure enough they did drive us out there saving us more than a mile of hiking. David and I did check out the nice lodge dining room but decided the prices were a bit more than we'd like. We instead grabbed a nice big pizza at Deli in the Pines. It was about 6:34pm now. We had to wait about 45 minutes for it. The pizza wasn't that great, but hey, after our long day we would have eaten almost anything. We went out to the patio area with amazing views of the canyon and ate our pizza. I also had a Mountain Dew with it. After finishing eating the ranger couple had said we could call them and get a ride back to camp but we decided we felt up to the walk. Aside from some chafing in some inopportune groin areas, I was still feeling well and David also seemed improved. We enjoyed the easy stroll back on the Bridle Trail to camp. It was getting fairly dark as we got back. I looked into hitting the General Store but it was closed, I also considered checking out the showers but opted not. With things being dark and us being tired we both pretty much hit the tent and went to bed. It was just before 9pm.
TUESDAY JUNE 6
David and I were up just about 4:45am there in our camp on the North Rim. It was already getting light outside and it was a beautiful 53°. What a place to wake up to the world with the views we had already into the Canyon. Not many places do you get to look out your tent door and take in something like this. The morning plan for us was simple. I got my gear ready to hike and had a little bit of breakfast. David gave me some of his food items and the first aid kit to help with the day. I left with him my sleeping bag as well as instructions of tearing down the tent. He had a 7am shuttle which left him with 90 minutes or so still to relax and take down camp. I was able to get on the trail out of camp at 5:06am.
David and I made it back to the South Rim at 3:45pm. There was an immense feeling of relief, almost, but not quite, the same sense I had upon finishing the Pikes Peak Marathon. Feelings of intense joy, accomplishment, but also near exhaustion. There at the Bright Angel Trailhead my body was quickly giving me that typical post-marathon feel. I hadn't had any of this at the end of yesterday's South-to-North hike, but today, I think I had my body near its limit. This may have been a breakdown in my drinking and eating over the last 5 hours, could have been the wear of the intense heat in the latter half, it could have been the culimnation of two days and 45 miles. Whatever it was I was moving slowly and cautiously. We made the relatively short walk to the parking lot where David had left our car and I had him drive. We dedided I needed fuel and so we drove over to Market Plaza where I carefully made my way into the store with my ever tightening legs. I grabbed an ice cream bar, a gatorade, and the bag of cheetos we had had in the car. This was all heavenly. The ice cream and the cheetos absolutely hit the spot. I sat there outside on a picnic bench and slowly got all of that into my system while sipping the gatorade. This helped to alleviate some of the post-exhaustion feelings I was having.
After working in our food we headed to our camp site where David had gotten the REI Half Dome 4 tent all setup and even had our sleeping bags and pads all ready to go, he was quite the help. We got out our camp chairs and sat a bit. I knew I wanted to get a change of clothes and a change of shoes but I was just horribly sweaty and dirty. So I gathered up my camp towel, wallet, and clean clothes and drove down to the campground entrance for the showers. For the guys there wasn't a line of wait and so I used the change machine to get 8 quarters and found myself an open shower. It was $2/8 quarters for an 8 minute shower. It was heavenly. Quite refreshing to get all the dirt and grime off and feel clean again. My little camp towel worked nicely to help me dry though I wasn't opposed to leaving a few open drops here and there to cool me outside. After cleaning up and heading back to camp I grabbd David and we decided to go find supper. We drove to Yavapai Lodge to check out there food. They had a buffet area with an endless pasta buffet but a little pricey. There restaurant was also equally pricey. We finally talked ourselves into a drive out to Tusayan (about 10-15 minutes). There in Tusayan we hit the Wendy's. I had been craving a good sandwich and fries and so I had a big spicy chicken sandwich, fries, and a large lemonade. Yum, more calories for my depleted muscles.
After supper we headed back into camp to take it easy for the rest of the evening. There wasn't much to be done at camp and we didn't need much to do. Things got dark around 9pm and for the most part when it did we hit the tent and headed to sleep.
WEDNESDAY JUNE 7
We were up at 4:40a today to get ready for the drive down to Humphreys. We weren't carrying much for the hike other than basic food and water and light alpine gear such as trekking poles, gore-tex and first aid. We were on the road just after 5a for the 90 minute or so drive. We had to get gas and so made a stop in Valle to fill things up. It was beautiful driving on US180. The Arizona Snowbowl road was also good as it wound its way uphill, all paved, to the base of the ski resort. We found the parking lot with the Humphreys trailhead and were ready to roll by just before 7am.
When we finished with Humphreys and were driving back down the road we had the question of lunch. It was pushing past 1pm and we had over an hour drive to get to Tusayan where we had considered hitting one of their Mexican restaurants. Or we could fill a Taco Bell crave and have about a 15 minute drive down into Flagstaff. It would add 10 miles each way to our driving but we decided it would be worht it. We made the relatively short drive to Flagstaff and even enjoyed a few minutes on historic Route 66 and found our way into the Taco Bell. We shared a 12-pack crave case of hard and soft shell tacos and had a nachos as well. I've never eaten 6 tacos and nachos and still felt like I could eat more. Needless to say, we were hungry. After Taco Bell we headed back up to US180 for the drive back.
David had been looking for opportunities to fly his drone and had been hopeful it would work while we were on Humphreys Peak. The National Park Services doesn't allow them anywhere, rightfully so, so we'd been looking for a safe legal spot to play around. Conditions were too windy on Humphreys and so we were left to settle for something simpler. As we drove along we saw a nice parking lot on the left side of the road and it turned out to be a simple trailhead. It was at the Kendrick Park Watchable Wildlife Trail. We pulled in there and David got his drone setup to fly. He made some nice flights with it flying out into a field and above the trees a bit. Though even there the winds had picked up and he had noticeable difficulty with flight.
After the drone time we hit the road again. Time for our flight check-ins was coming about and so we were carefully watching cell signals rise and fall as we drove along and finally as the time came we found a place with signal to pull over and make our check-in. The rest of the rive back to the canyon went pretty uneventful. When we got back we headed straight to the Visitor's Center area to walk around and sightsee. We hit the gift shop to buy a few little things for the kids and look around. We then headed outside to check out the various viewpoints around Mather Point and gather up some nice photos. After this we headed back to camp to chill for about an hour.
We researched again our supper options having looked at possibilities at Bright Angel Lodge and Yavapai Lodge again. I then saw notes about Maswik Lodge and the food court they had and their more, relatively, reasonable prices. We decided to give that a go and drove on over there. We got in about 5:50p and it was just in time. I no more found which section of the food court had the food I wanted than a group of about 50 high schoolers all came in and flooded the lines. I decided to indulge my crave for a big juicy burger tonight and had some fries. David tries out their pizza pub and had a reasonably priced slice of pizza. We thought about having a beer there but realize it would be far cheaper to grab them at the grocery at Market Plaza and then take them back to the campsite. So that's what we did. At Market Plaza the beers were almost priced the same as back home and we were able to grab bottles one at a time apart from a 6-pack. So I grabbed an Alaska Summer Ale while David found a Breckenridge Vanilla Porter. We enjoyed these back at the campsite and used the rest of the evening to get things packed up to leave in the morning.
THURSDAY JUNE 8
We were up at 5:05am today to get our camp torn down and still have time to enjoy a little hiking. Took about 45 minutes to get things packed up and when we had the car loaded we drove over to the Grand Canyon Visitor Center to catch a shuttle.
Back at the car we made our final drive out from the Grand Canyon. We followed out the route we had taken in on AZ64 to I-40 and on to Flagstaff. It was 8:10a when we left the canyon. The drive back to Flagstaff went well as most of it this way is downhill. We got into the edges of Phoenix around 11:30a and hit a Chick-fil-A on Peoria Ave. We had seen ads for their BBQ Grilled Chicken sandwich and wanted to try these. I had one of them and still went back for my typical spicy chicken sandwich as well. The BBQ Grilled was okay, but nothing beats their spicy chicken. Before heading to the car rental we found a gas station to get filled up in and then made our way to the car return. That went pretty simple for us and then we were on the shuttle to the airport. Thankfully we were still plenty early. In the terminal I walked around a bit and David found the USO for a few minutes. At security everything was going fine until I realized, there in the terminal I had filled up my nalgene bottle. I saw one of the bottle filling stations and making the rookie mistake, forgot I hadn't gone through security yet. Unfortunately, the agents made me go all the way back out to go through the whole line again. My backpack at least I was able to leave with David who made it through fine, but me and my nalgene bottle hopped in the 25 minute line to wait again. Thankfully, we still had time. We headed out to the gate to wait our last bit. David's flight was 20 minutes after mine so he hung around my gate til we were ready to board. To add insult to injury, I never found a place out in the gate area to fill up my nalgene.
I had a just over 4 hour flight to Atlanta, this time I used my drink coupon and had a jack and coke. I enjoyed a movie and read along the way and it went pretty quickly. We were in a few minutes early. In Atlanta I found another Chick-fil-A and enjoyed another good sandwich before waiting at my gate there. David had been on time in his flights through Dallas and he had a long layover there. We got out of Atlanta just a few minutes late. This flight to Detroit went fairly well and we got in mostly on time. Sarah and Seth (who was asleep) were in the car to get me at about 12:50am.