Grand Canyon National Park: Trip Report

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Welcome! This trip report features a four day rim-to-rim (south to north) hike across one of the seven wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon. You will find pictures and short video clips that help tell the story. We hope this web site will serve to assist those interested in hiking the Grand Canyon, particular the main corridor trails. We are by no means expert canyoneers; however, you will find many helpful hints and pieces of information (along with some comic relief) that should make your hike more enjoyable.

Route: Bright Angel Trail, Indian Gardens, Horn Creek CG, Plateau Point, Indian Gardens, Bright Angel CG, North Kaibab Trail, Ribbon Falls, Cottonwood CG, North Kaibab Trailhead, North Rim Lodge

Total Distance: Approximately 30 miles (including side trips to Plateau Point & Ribbon Falls)

Dates: June 1 - June 4, 2005

NOTE: The information on this site is based on 2005 so please confirm current reservation details when planning your trip. Also, my backpacking experience has changed to include an internal pack and lighter weight gear with a base weight around 16 lbs.

Who went? Three guys from East Texas; Tom Carrington, Sean Dupré, and Richard Geraci (see profiles).

View of the North Rim from the Bright Angel TrailWhy hike the Grand Canyon? The planning of this trip began shortly after my (Sean) 1997 rim-to-river trip with Johnny Turpin and Shawn Fulgham. Once you experience the canyon below the rim you get hooked (that or you never go back). After completing the rim-to-river trip, I knew that I would be back and hopefully have the opportunity to hike rim-to-rim. Actually, I began the specific plans for this trip about 18 months ago in preparation for turning 40 years old. I told June, my wife, that this was my mid-life crisis. No sports cars or younger women for me - only a hike across the Grand Canyon. I wanted to truly experience the canyon and not race across it so I decided on a four day backpacking trip. Two days hiking down and two days hiking up with a few side trips along the way (Plateau Point and Ribbon Falls). The idea of hiking the Grand Canyon from rim-to-rim started out as a challenge. One of those "turning 40" things. However, for me, it ended up as a celebration - of life at forty.

Planning The Trip. The logistics involved in planning a Grand Canyon hike can be overwhelming. First of all, you need to get there. Tom and I drove over 1,350 miles from Lufkin, TX, and Richard flew in to Flagstaff where we picked him up the day before the hike. A date specific backcountry permit ($10 + $5 per person per night) is required, which can be obtained up to 4 months prior to your hike from the backcountry section on the NPS official web site. Therefore, you need to know your dates well in advance and take your chances on the weather. I faxed ours over on February 1 for our June 1-4 trip and still didn't get 1st choice of itineraries. Lodging accommodations are needed on one or both ends. If you want to reserve a meal at Phantom Ranch, well that opens up 2 years in advance (they were sold out when we called). Unless you can coordinate your own transportation you will need to reserve a seat on the TransCanyon Shuttle ($65 per person). There is only one shuttle per day so you don't want to miss it. Equipment needs to be purchased and trail tested as well as physical conditioning (unless your name is Richard - more on that later). Obviously, the more planning you do the better you will be prepared and the more fun you have. I overheard the park ranger at the Backcountry Office tell someone at the window that the waiting list for backcountry permits for that day was at number 35. We also saw a group of four hikers turned away (or kicked out) of the Bright Angel Campground for not having a permit (over 9 miles from the rim). I did my homework and earned the nickname "logistics" by my comrades, Richard and Tom. Overall, our trip went smooth (except for a few blisters - hard to not plan on that).

South RimWhy start at the South Rim? As the trip planner, I made the command decision to travel from south to north. There were several factors that pushed me to make this decision. A decision that I would have to defend on more than one occasion during the hike. First of all, I didn't want to begin our trek on a shuttle bus, which is a 4-1/2 hour ride from the South Rim to the North Rim. Driving our own vehicles was out of the question since we would be picking up and dropping off Richard Geraci at the Flagstaff airport. I was also hoping that we would complete our hike early enough the final day to allow time for exploring and photographing along the North Rim. If we had hiked north to south the shuttle bus would have put us at the North Rim around 5:30pm, which would not have given us enough time for exploring. Secondly, I knew that it would be much cooler on the North Rim and that sounded like a great way to complete our trip. Finally, it just seemed more attractive to end the trip on the less traveled North Kaibab Trail rather than ending it on the much traveled Bright Angel Trail. I had memories of the 1997 rim-to-river trip when the day hikers crowded the last few miles of the Bright Angel Trail. I tried to downplay the fact to Richard and Tom that the last day would include an approximately 4,400 ft elevation change - uphill (oops).

Why camp at Horn Creek? Our first choice was to camp at Indian Gardens CG the 1st night, Bright Angel CG the 2nd night, and then Cottonwood CG (2 days down and 2 days up). This would give us plenty of time to enjoy the essence of the Grand Canyon and also progress the mileage of the trip from day to day. When we received our backcountry permit in the mail we did not get our 1st choice of itinerary. Our 2nd choice was to camp at Horn Creek CG rather than Indian Gardens CG. This would add 5 miles to our total trip. We got some strange looks from hikers when we told them we would be camping at Horn Creek CG. Most corridor hikers hadn't heard of it plus you can't drink the water there because of possible uranium contamination (it didn't seem to bother the frogs). The campground is primitive in nature and could only hold two small groups. Interesting enough, I had deliberately chosen Horn Creek CG on the 97' trip in order to escape the crowds; therefore, I was familiar with the campsite. We did enjoy the solitude of Horn Creek CG, but the extra mileage made for a long second day hike to Bright Angel CG (9 miles)..

A few things about this web site. The web site chronicles each day of our four day trek across the Grand Canyon from my point of view (Sean Dupré). Hopefully the account is accurate and fair and doesn't ruffle any feathers. You will notice that most of the pictures link to larger 5x7" images and there are additional images linked to various places throughout the text. Also, you will find short video clips from each day, that should link directly to your default media player. There is a list of the videos on the summary page for quick access and links to the interacitve maps. For more information check out the links page or feel free to send me an email if you have any questions or just want to make a comment. I'm a pretty easy going guy and enjoy talking about the canyon. I hope you enjoy the site!

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