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Hiking the Grand Canyon in a Day

January 15, 2013

In January my dad and I went to the Grand Canyon, hoping to head down to Phantom Ranch and back to the South Rim in a day. It was quite cold, 25 F for the high, and 2 F for the low. Despite the stupid warnings from the Park Service on many signs throughout the park that hiking “to the river and back in a day” was not allowed, we did it anyway. After a hearty breakfast of huevos rancheros, we got on the 9 am hiker’s express bus to the South Kaibab Trail. With a foot of snow on the ground, I knew that passing people on switchbacks at the start of the trail would be difficult. So, I got off the bus and beat the crowd to the trail. The snow made easy going of the trail, which would otherwise be in poor condition from the mule traffic.

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I quickly hiked down to Cedar Ridge, and waited for my dad at O’Neill Butte. About at the base of O’Neill butte, the elevation was low enough that there was no snow. After passing O’Neill we climbed a little hill for a view of the Tonto Trail. We continued hiking, past Skeleton Point to the junction of the Tonto Trail. My dad took the Tonto Trail across to Indian Garden, meeting up with the Bright Angel Trail. I raced him to Indian Garden, descending the rest of the South Kaibab and ascending the Bright Angel from Phantom Ranch.

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My dad’s route:

Screen shot 2013-02-27 at 9.50.32 PM
(Link to route here– though the elevation profile is incorrect)

I got to the Colorado River, crossed the Black Bridge, stopped at the Bright Angel Campground for a little water, crossed the Silver Bridge, and began the worst part of the hike… a mile of fine beach sand to trudge through. Finally off the River Trail, I maintained a quick pace up the Bright Angel Trail and Devil’s Corkscrew to Indian Garden. Unfortunatly I had not beaten my dad, as he left my sticker on the back of the Tonto Trail junction to show that he had passed through.

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I took a long break and got some water at Indian Garden, and finished the hike up by 4 pm, making my time down and up the canyon about 7 hours.

My route:

Screen shot 2013-02-27 at 9.51.01 PM
(Link to route here– though elevation profile is incorrect)

Overall, both of us had great hikes. But, how could you not in a place like the Grand Canyon? I would recommend the Tonto Trail over the standard South Kaibab to Bright Angel hike, because the views more unique, and there are very few people (my dad saw nobody).

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