Sep 302016
 

Jeff and I spent our 2nd anniversary at the Grand Canyon. On our first full day there, we hiked 1.5 miles down the S. Kaibab Trail to Cedar Ridge, 1120′ down from the rim.

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A view of the S. Kaibab Trail across a side canyon. You can see it as a diagonal line below the rim.

“Fortune favors a prepared mind,” said Louis Pasteur. It also favors a prepared body, when hiking into the Grand Canyon. I hiked down the Bright Angel trail 30 years ago, and knew what kind of preparation was necessary for this hike. We spend the summer walking and getting into shape for the steep trek. But we also did our research, preparing our minds, and knew how much water and food to take with us.

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S. Kaibab Trail, just before Ooh Aah Point.

Our first milestone was Ooh Aah Point, .9 mi and 760′ down. We took our time, and had frequent breaks, drinking water and eating. Just before it, during one of our breaks, the 2nd and 3rd mule trains passed us, on their way up to the rim.

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Mule train.

From Ooh Aah Point, we descended steps, hollowed out and filled with burro urine, to Cedar Ridge, another .6 mi. We had to balance on the ties between them, rocks beside them, or narrow sections beside the rocks. 3/4 of that part of the trail was like that.

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Trail from Ooh Aah Point down towards Cedar Ridge.

Once we got to Cedar Ridge, we wondered how we were going to get back up with legs feeling like rubber. Fortunately, by the time we started our ascent, most of the urine had soaked into the soil. It was so much easier going up than we’d expected. It took us 2.5 hours to get to Cedar Ridge, and less than 2.5 hours to hike back up.

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Linda-Ann Stewart at Cedar Ridge.

Many of the people we saw or talked with on our way up didn’t have enough water, if any. And some of them were having difficulty with the altitude. They hadn’t mentally or physically prepared enough. Fortunately, there was water at the trailhead, so they’d be able to hydrate as soon as they got there.

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It’s a long way up. These are the switchbacks up to the S. Kaibab trailhead. If you look closely, you can see diagonal lines going up in the shadowed section.

Because of our preparation, we weren’t as sore as I expected we’d be. I also believe that taking frequent breaks factored into that. I’d learned that during my Bright Angel hike.

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Grand Canyon and Colorado River.

The next day was our anniversary. We hiked some more on the relatively level Rim Trail, and ate at Bright Angel Restaurant that evening. The next day was our last at the Canyon. We hiked the Rim Trail some more, then drove along the East Rim, visiting some of the points along the way.

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Late afternoon in the Grand Canyon.

We have an advantage over most visitors to the Park. We visit it 1-3 times a year, and have acclimated to the altitude and weather. Also, through research and experience, we know what’s needed to safely conclude our visit. On your next adventure, take the time to mentally and physically prepare so you can enjoy it completely.

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