Day 82

Don't Walk to the Colorado River and Back

Walking the Kaibab trail down to the Colorado river at the Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, USA
Walking the Kaibab trail down to the Colorado river at the Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, USA

Just outside Grand Canyon Campground and back


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Day 82 - The Grand Canyon National Park. 19 miles and 6000ft I hiked the Colorado River and back in a day against all warnings. I didn’t intend to. Lonely Planet told me it was a 3-mile loop. It was wrong. I checked out Desert View at Sunrise and headed to South Kaibab Trail after borrowing a mans map because I burnt mine in the fire the night before. I couldn’t stop moving when I got to the trail. The enormous cliffs, switchbacks and views incredible. I asked the tail of an experienced group of hikers about going to the Colorado and back. “You can do it if you’re fit”, he looked me up and down. His face turned serious and checked his watch. “You need to cruise, faster than us”. He stopped and drew a map in the sand. “You’ll cross a river here. Get food a mile down at Phantom. Get water here. Then cross the other bride to Bright Angel. Consider buying a torch at Phantom Ranch”. His instructions were solid. “You need to cruise”, he reiterated as I skipped down the stones. I kept a fast semi-jog pace down. No one passed me. I grabbed sunscreen off another hiker. My knees were aching from the decent when I reached the Colorado. Different muscles upward. I was excited for the challenge and it proved to be. I ate trail mix I’d collected at the ranch. The grade became steep. The sun was hot. A man ran down the hill. Crazy. I meet another, Jeff, who helped with my blisters. He smelled of beer. “Last time I did this in one day I threw up and have convulsions. They had to call an ambulance!”. We continued upward chatting until my pace outdid his. He wore a marathon runner t-shirt and carried ‘electrolyte pills’. It got harder. A never-ending trail of switchbacks. I found a stick to shift the weight off my legs. It was the ultimate test of endurance. There were others struggling. I wondered where they started. One lady looked like death. I got to the top just before 6pm. I got on a bus and headed to camp. The driver told me she cried in fear that she wouldn’t make it to camp by the Colorado. I was the only one on the bus. We saw some torches on the road. She called on a megaphone “Hey you hikers need a ride!”, It was hilarious. I was exhausted. I met 3 others at camp.

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