Hiking the Grand Canyon was a trip that was two years in the making. In 2011 I made my first trip to Flagstaff with my good friend Rachel. I decided then that I would return in 2013 and hike the Grand Canyon from South Kaibab to Bright Angel. The years passed, Rachel M decided she couldn't make the 2013 trip and Rachel L stepped in to hike with me, and all of the sudden it was time to get on the plane. And then we realized, hey, we didn't actually do much planning.
So we decided to wing it.
Early the morning after our arrival in Flagstaff we got up, put our gear in the car and drove out to the Canyon to try to weasel our way into some bunks at Phantom Ranch. As it turns out, Phantom Ranch sells out well more than a year in advance, we were told, but a few spots were usually held in the campgrounds for last minute hikers. Voila, last minute plans made.
Our concierge de Canyon recommended a brisk 13 mile hike our first day from South Kaibab Trailhead, down to the bottom, and then up half way the Bright Angel Trail to Indian Garden where we could camp. Totally doable, he said.
A mere 13 miles, he promised.
We were handed a floppy yellow tag to strap to our bag that proved we had reserved a camping spot for the next night.
We had a day to spend at the Canyon before our hike down the next morning so we decided to walk the rim trail to limber up, test out our walking poles and get hyped for the early morning descent.
The day was clear, dry and blue and we walked briskly and then took the bus back to our car and headed out to the forest to camp for the night. That's when things got interesting….