We stuck to the 5AM plan pretty well. We didn’t really cook breakfast since the ravens stole the oats and I think we were back at the silver suspension bridge by 5:20. The only real stop we took before Indian Garden was at the River rest house. We realized that we had never actually went all the way down to the Colorado River, so we made a quick diversion to go touch the water before starting the climb out. We made one other brief stop for sunscreen, but after that it was pretty much straight through, but the early part of the trail is the less steep and strenuous portion.
As expected, the early start gained us some shade for a good chunk of the hike up. We didn’t really stop until 3 mile rest house other than a quick water fill and bathroom break at Indian Garden. Our long stop to eat, again fill water and use the bathrooms at 3 mile rest house was followed by a shorter stop at 1.5 mile rest house. The last of the significant shade ended between 3 mile and 1.5 mile and we started taking short breaks in the shady corners the rest of the way up. The stretch between 3 mile rest house and the top is the more intense portion with lots of shorter switch-backs and it’s also where we started to see most of the other hikers (enviably carrying less gear than us) as the two rest houses are common day-hike endpoints. We ended up getting to the canyon rim right around 11:00, a time of around 6 hours and getting us to the top just as the worst of the day’s heat hit. Even then, the sun combined with the climb was pretty intense.
There wasn’t anything more on the list for the day, we were plenty tired, and it was hot, so after some quick refreshments at the hotel / visitor center we headed out of the Grand Canyon driving back south. We did stop at a McDonald’s for coffee and ice cream. Our next real point of interest was Joshua Tree National Park, and we got into town just before sunset to get some good and crash at the Super 8 for the night.
We got up early to organize and pack for the overnight at the bottom of the canyon. After breaking down camp and packing the necessary items in backpacks we went to park the car near the top of Bright Angel trail. Not sure if it was luck or the fact that we were there at quarter to seven in the morning, but we got a spot right next to the trailhead and walked up to the hotel to catch the 7AM shuttle.
We arrived at the North Kaibab Trailhead and were headed down into the canyon around 7:30 along with a handful of other hikers. As usual, this seemed absurdly early to start hiking (and it wasn’t even the earliest shuttle), but around 10:30 or so it started getting hot enough that we fully understood why the early start was important – and this was when traveling downhill. It was hot and sunny, but otherwise a not particularly strenuous hike, so we were both wearing long sleeves and hoods / hats to keep the sun off and the heat out.
Most of the pictures are either from the top portion – above the Cedar Ridge rest area, or the bottom as we approached or once we were in the campground. The “middle” was the hot and sunny portion (I think the only picture from there is the mules coming up), and in addition to being more strenuous, it was also not as interesting.
In our deliberations the day before, we found out that Upper Antelope Canyon had openings for a 4:00 tour on Monday. So, we knew what our plan was for the afternoon, but first we needed to get to the back country office before 9:00 to get a campsite for Tuesday night. We did this with no problem and then once again stopped at the campground office to check on cancellation sites.
We lucked out a second time and got a site, so we hastily wadded up the tent, sleeping bags and all, crammed it into the car and relocated. We didn’t burn too much time in that process and then headed North toward Antelope Canyon.
We flew out of Chicago early (6:20) and got to Vegas just before 1:00. The only real excitement of the trip being the rebooking of the rental car through Costco to add the second driver and the momentary fear that Avis had charged a $150 fee to cancel the previous booking. They ended up cancelling it with no fee at all, so that was a surprise perk. Also, I’ll make a recommendation for renting through Costco – it was a better rate, on a slightly nicer car and they include the second driver for no extra cost.
As usual, the first day involved getting supplies (including a secondary supply stop for a gas canister when the first Walmart failed us) which is necessary, but not very exciting.
I had been to Las Vegas at least five times prior to this trip and each time, going to the Hoover Dam was a tentative item on the list that got canceled for one reason or another. It was not getting canceled this time. Though, with the issues we had the night before, it was not an early start. I think we only had about 45 minutes to ‘visit’ the dam.
One could argue that the Hoover Dam is no more, and possibly less, impressive than the previously berated Mt. Shmushmore. But, at least there’s some cool technology on display. Parking is kind of a mess, so somewhat by chance we drove over the dam, found a spot on the other side, hopped out of the car and walked around on the dam for a bit, drove back over and up to the new primary traffic bridge above and walked out on that for aerial pictures of the Hoover Dam. I’m not sure how things were before the new bridge, but if traffic across the dam was anything like what it is now as primarily a pedestrian tourist attraction, that had to have been miserable with no bypass.
After checking the Hoover Dam off the bucket list, we headed back to Las Vegas to drop off the car (which was as confusing as reputed to be by others) and head home.
Reporting on a recent trip that Janet and I took to the Grand Canyon…
We flew out to Las Vegas on Saturday and, in the standard fashion, got a car and made a stop for food and other non-packed supplies, and headed toward the Grand Canyon South Rim. We didn’t intend to make it all the way to the Grand Canyon.
Janet had found an incredibly cheap hotel, the Ash Fork Inn in Ash Fork, UT. I think the realization that this might be somewhat questionable started when the hotel did not show up on in the right place on TomTom or Google maps. Upon arriving, we realized it was exactly what one might expect for the price. It was certainly the most rundown hotel I’ve stayed in in the US and maybe anywhere, but it was sufficient for somewhere to sleep. I am also delighted that the most run down accommodation award is no longer owned by me, and not likely to be reclaimed unless we count making her stay in campgrounds. Continue reading