Phoenix, Arizona → Grand Canyon, Arizona: 3hr 25mins. 228miles.
We arrived into the Grand Canyon Village around 10pm and bought a Annual National Park Pass which is $80 and allows entry into all National Parks in America for the year. Worked out much cheaper for us all to pay $20 than to purchase single entries which are about $12-20 as we were hitting around six national parks on this road trip. Nerves set in when the vacancy sign in front the ranger booth stated that all campsites in the village were FULL. However, we tried our luck at the nearest campsite with FULL written all over it and it paid off as the campsite manager stated that she just had a cancellation. You don’t ask. You don’t get. We stayed at Mather Campground which is one of the most commonly known campsites in the village and it cost us $18 to stay there. We set up camp for the first time in the dark, ate a cold cut sandwich and caught some sleep before out big hike in the canyon tomorrow!
By 8am, we were up, dressed and on our way to park up the car in the South Rim Carpark and set off onto an epic hike into the canyon! As it was Karolina and Cody’s first time at Grand Canyon, Jon and I decided to blindfold them and lead them to the edge so they can cast their eyes onto the breath-taking views with build-up anticipation! This was the result…
We decided to do the most popular trail hike called the ‘Bright Angel Trail’ which I had done before but only went so far so I didn’t get the chance to complete the trail. This time, we set our sights on reaching ‘Plateau Point’ which was known for giving the best views of the Colorado River without actually going down to the river (which would’ve taken all day and all night). It was a 12 mile hike – up and down – which we confidently laughed at. “12 miles?! Psssh please. We’ll be back up by lunchtime”. Little did we know that Keranos – the God of Storm was listening in and decided burst our big heads and make our hike very interesting…
The weather on the way down was perfect for hiking – dry, sunny and not too hot with the occasional breeze. We passed the 3 mile mark and take a break in the ‘rest-house’ they have there which is a brick shelter. As this trail is so popular, they provide restrooms and water taps along the trail for the first three hikes and as far down as the Indian Village Campground which was our next stop. This is where people come to camp in the Grand Canyon and I vowed that I would camp there one day. The place was stunning and full of history. The Hawasupai Indian Tribes lived within the ‘Indian Garden’ in the 20th Century but was forced to leave their home by the Government in 1928 when they wanted to make Grand Canyon a National Park. Unfortunately, it was about this time when the skies opened and gave us the opportunity to seek shelter at the Indian Garden. We set off once more when the rain has subsided. We got as far as ‘Tonto West’ when the lightening bolts started to make appearances and the sky clouded over. By this time, there was no sign of anyone else and we were very alone.
During the hike from the Campground to Plateau Point, the heavens opened a few more times and we as soon as we had gone from soaked to damp, we were once again back to soaked. But that didn’t stop us and made us more determined to fight through the storms and reach our destination. Finally, we made to Plateau Point and we were squealing with excitement and achievement. We made it! And thankfully, the rain held off for a few minutes for us to take some photos and enjoy our reward.
As you can tell from the previous photo, it started to turn very dark and Karolina’s hair started to stand on edge which meant strong electricity in the hair. Right on cue, the rain poured, the thunder crashed and the lightening bolts lit up the sky so we sought shelter under a rock whilst we revelled in the bolts leaping across the canyon. It was pretty darn cool even though we were alone and at risk of getting killed by these pretty bolts…
The hike back up was done with a purpose. The storms continued on but unfortunately so did time so we had to take the risk and start hiking back up the canyon. At first, Aah, that’ll be the extra weight I’ve put onto my thighs. Thanks Camp(!) Thankfully, Cody was smart enough to bring a first aid kit which had antiseptic cream and the rain started to calm down. Not gonna lie, the hike back up was gruelling and painful. But the weird thing is, you have to keep moving because as soon as you stop, the pain starts and you realise that your heart is beating out of your ears! I’m telling you, if a mule had passed me carrying someone, I would’ve knocked them off and stole the mule – I was that close to giving up!
At 7:00pm, we finally reached the top of the Canyon. I practically snogged the floor much to the delight of passers-by in their nice cosy sweatshirts! We started at 9:30am. We had completed the Bright Angel Trail down to Plateau Point which was 12 miles with a 3000 foot drop in elevation, in 9.5 hours. Now that’s one for the books!
TOP TIP: Be Prepared for all eventualities. Make sure to take enough food, a raincoat, a hat and most importantly – a first aid kit! Chafing is not pleasant. You’ve been warned.