Date: 10 Apr 2003 20:49:40 -0000


Travelogue I- Ed and Edith Gray

Hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and OUT!

My three son's, Curt from Phoenix, Jack from Rapid City and Tom from Mesa and myself decided

to meet and do the Grand Canyon Hike. I remember years ago standing on the south rim and

looking down on some buildings which I though might of been Phantom Ranch and I said someday

I'd like to go down there! Well thanks to Tom we all got a chance. He has been down twice

before and has friends who have connections but even so we thought it was going to have to be

called off for lack of a permit! It is spring break time and even more importantly after it

starts warming up but BEFORE IT GETS HOT! It easily gets to be over 100 degrees in the

bottom of the Canyon already in May. The NPS allows so many people per zone and it was

filled up but if we hiked to the bottom, on up the north side and out to the east about 2 1/4

miles we would be in another zone and Tom convinced them we had back country camping

experience and could make it from the top to the spot by the first night so we were in, we

had a permit!

When I write these travelogues I try and provide additional information for those who might

want to do the same thing or go to the same area that would of been helpful if I had known.

The easy way to got to the bottom of the Grand Canyon is via Mule, looked more like Jack

Asses to me but they said mules. I asked one lady and she said it cost $129.00 for the round

trip. In all cases if you stay at Phantom Ranch you do not need a permit. The second easiest

way is to have reservations at Phantom Ranch, hike down with just water and some snacks in a

small day pack. The hotter it is the more water you need. I'd say at least one gallon. The

third way and by far the hardest way is to backpack but that also can be made easier!

There are two trails down from the south rim, the South Kiabab and Bright Angel. The South

Kiabab is shorter, about 7.2 miles but very steep and the Bright Angel is 9.4 miles but not

as steep although the last 4 miles is up all the way with constant switch backs and lots and

lots of step ups!

The easiest way to back pack would be to take the Bright Angel Trail both ways as there is

drinking water along the way and drinking water at Phantom Ranch so you have to carry far

less water where on the South Kiabab there is no water so you have to carry all your water.

WATER MEANS WEIGHT!!!! Over 8 pounds for a gallon. Another advantage of the Bright Angel

Trail is you can camp at Indian Gardens about half way down or up as may be the case so if

it is to streneous for you to do in one day if you can get the permit that would really help!

Doing it with more than one really helps as you can spilt up the weight of the tents,

cooking pan and stove.

Good gear is of extreme importance, the most important being a broken in, known pair of

hiking shoes. One needs good hiking socks that wick away the moisture! If you know where

your "hot spots" are at put duct tape over them before you start. As you are hiking the

first time you notice a hot spot starting, stop and put duct tape over it. You can use mole

skin but my boys who do lots of hiking say duct tape is better and much cheaper. Another

trick is when you stop to rest is take off your shoes, turn your socks wrong side out and

let things dry out. Obviously have a good hat and sunscreen. Also if lounging around in

sandels be sure to sunscreen your feet so you don't burn them, that is a DISASTER!!!

Drink water all the time, by the time you feel thirsty you have gotten to a deficet and

it is nearly impossible to catch up. Having and eating quick energy food is essetial.

The hike is equivalent to the energy expended in a marathon! We mixed gatorade powder

with our water. We used what are known as "CAMELBACKS" which was a 100 oz. pouch with a

hose and you suck on it like a straw. I highly recommend something like this. You have

the hose under your backpack strap and can just reach down, put it in your mouth and take a

drink. Jack and Tom who hike a lot were on my case all the time about drinking every 15

minutes no matter what. They have been with others who did not listen and got "GOFFEY" on


We spend Friday shopping as I needed a CAMELBACK and we needed to get our food and a few

other items. We spent Friday night and Saturday morning laying out our gear in Curts garage

and going over Jacks proven hiking list. I will confess to NOT REALLY understanding the

significance of weight when backpacking. By that I mean the difference a few pounds makes.


think about it when you climb up over a mile each time you step up a foot that is 5 foot

pounds and with the switch backs you likely go up nearly 10,000 feet so that is 50,000 foot

pounds. Just think how much energy is expended lifting 50,000 foot pounds more!!!! It is

huge!!! The boys saved my bacon getting my pack adjusted correctly and also showing my how

to pack the weight.

My pack going down weighed 32# without water and then I added on 100 oz. plus 2.5 liters which

was about 10# of water so I ended up about 42#. Jack and Tom had a tent and cooking stuff so

they were at about 45#. I had to many clothes! I used to laugh at these pants with the zip

off legs to turn them into shorts but no more as for hiking they are the deal! One needs to

be down to around 25# without water if at all possible. I took some things I would not take


We got to the south rim on Saturday afternoon and I got an update from our friends the

Duxbury's via cell phone on the SDSU women basketball national championship game up until

half time. We got to the motel and I was going to give them a call and discovered they had

ESPN2 so I was able to watch the last 10 minutes on TV WHICH WAS GREAT!!!

We headed down Sunday morning, it started out chilly but soon warmed up. It really got

painful going down with all the weight being so steep! My conditioning did not use the

muscles used in going down. I ended up getting really "rubbery legs" The last ways was

tough but we got to Phantom Ranch and rested about a hour and I put my feet up above my

heart to try and help the legs recover as we had over 2 miles to go uphill to get to the

other zone on what is called the Clear Creek Trail. Going up went better than down and

I did better but eventually got tired out so the last 1/4 mile was a long, long ways! We

sat up camp on the Tonto Plateau. It was a beautiful site high up above the Colorado on

the north side. We had a great supper and settled in for the night. The stars were

fantastically bright.

The next morning we hiked back to Phantom Ranch and got into the Bright Angel CG thanks to

Mike the ranger who helped arrange it the day before!I don't know what happened to me Sunday

but on Monday no problem hiking and no problem hiking out on Tuesday! I definitely am

conditioned for going up hill and not down! We had a relaxing day at the CG and ate well!

We took lots of pictures and got organized for the trip out on Tuesday.

By 7 am we were on the Bright Angel Trail headed out and by 10 am we were at Indian Gardens

and 4.5 of the 9.5 miles up and out. The last 4 miles are much steeper but it was only about

80 degrees and I was not carrying near as much water and we had ate most of the food so the

pack was about 35#, WOW!!! what a difference that makes, you just can not believe it! The

feet held up well with just a couple of blisters that really did not cause me a problem.

Jack and Tom went on ahead and Curt and I took a slower pace but we were at the top in 6

hours TOTAL so very, very pleased with that and felt great! BTW when we started out we were

really sore, especially if we had to step down.

We went on into Flagstaff and decided to get something to eat. WOW! When we got out to

walk over to the eating place all of us could barely walk. A fellow seen us and said you guys must of hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back. We all got a big laugh out of that!