I woke to Kenny asking me “Did you hear the mice in the walls last night?” I had heard scratching but I figured it was Kenny 😂😂😂
I made coffee while Kenny showered. I didn’t see the point in showering before I was going to get sweaty (more on this later).
We loaded the vans with our gear at 4:30 for departure from the trailhead at 5 AM.
I was again hiking with Alan, Bob and Gloria but this time we were joined by Madeline who had skipped the first hike because of an altitude headache.
The temperature at our departure was 47 degrees. I was shivering in my long sleeved t-shirt but our fast pace going downhill soon warmed us up. The light from our headlamps allowed us to avoid the massive amounts of Donkey poop scattered about the trail. Frequently one or the other of us would call out “Poop on the right (or left)” as we picked our way downhill.
Gradually the sun rose and we marveled at the canyons below. Watching the sun come up and exposing the canyon was like a movie.
As we descended, the temperature rose steadily. Staying ahead of hydration issues meant we all reminded each other to drink frequently and we took a break at the first rest stop to eat some food and electrolytes.
I used that stop to re-bandage my feet using gel pads, medical tape and finishing off with a nice layer of duct tape from my medical kit.
The canyon temperature at this point had risen to 90 degrees. I noticed that I really smelled. I guess the shower in the morning would have been a good thing. The others said they didn’t notice because the smelled equally bad. (I think they were just being gracious).
We opted to take a side trip to Ribbon Falls, a spring fed waterfalls that plunged 120 feet in two cascades into a creek.
The bridge had been damaged years before and had not been replaced. Alan led the way and we negotiated the creek 3 times, supporting each other across, at times, up to our knees in the creek.
Our shoes were soaked but the trip was worth it. We climbed behind the falls and then moved into the falling streams of water to cool off.
After the falls, we made our way back to the trail and watched a cowboy on horseback retreat up the North Kaibab trail.
We dried our feet and changed our socks in the sun. Water, electrolytes and food were shared around, then we made our way back through “The Box” headed for Phantom Ranch. Alan wanted us to pick up our pace to ensure we were not in the open during the heat of the day.
We stopped at the Cottonwood campground where a deer wandered past us without a care in the world. I expect he/she was hoping for food but none of use would feed any of the wildlife. While stopped, you had to watch your packs because the squirrels would rip them apart looking for tasty snacks.
I was carrying 2 liters of water and one liter of Nuun at all times. We refilled at each water site (most were on again after pipeline breaks had closed the water at many stops).
We noticed a lot of loose rocks on the trail from the rain the night before. They had washed out of the banks and fallen onto the path.
After the Box we reached the Phantom Ranch. It was still closed due to the water shortage. I took advantage of the break to hobble down to the creek and soaked my feet. It felt soooo good. After that I did a little blister maintenance until we were called to get back on the trail.
We crossed the Colorado River, all brown from the red clay washed into the river from the rain upstream. We crossed the bridge an took the Bright Angel trail.
This is a long, unrelenting uphill which made me glad I had trained on stairs before the hike. From roughly 2 PM u til 8:45 we hiked uphill. Alan and Gloria went ahead as they were hiking at a faster pace and Bob, Madeline and I settled in for the grind uphill, switching positions in line and resting frequently.
We reached Indian Gardens Campground and again found deer in Indian Gardens. We were all talking gently to it, hoping for a great photo.
We continued steadily uphill for 5 miles as dusk, and the darkness fell. It was brutally hard and we could see headlamps above and below up with groups making their way to the top.
We reached the top after a hike of 16 hours and 42 minutes. June and Wendy met us at the top and took our photographs. They grabbed our packs and shepherded us to the van for the ride back to Yavapie Lodge.
As we reached the parking lot a large,cold beer was handed to me and I limped into my room (waking Kenny, who had finished in 8 hours).
I didn’t shower and I didn’t unpack. I just stripped off and crawled into bed and crashed.