Memorial Weekend  - May 1998

This was the weekend to hike to the River - a 15.4 mile round-trip day hike. Jennifer and I with our young Andrew, drove to the Grand Canyon this weekend with the goal of hiking to the Colorado River from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. My sister was with us and she offered to watch Andrew while we did our day hike. We camped at the campground.

Jennifer and I got up about 5:45 am and it was a bit chilly. We wanted to get to the river at or before lunch and before the temperature got too hot in the lower portions of the canyon.

At the trailhead was a ranger. His job was to warn everyone heading down into the canyon on this busy weekend to carry water and to not attempt to hike down to the river and back up in one day. Well, that is EXACTLY what we had planned to do. The poor guy really tried to persuade us otherwise and told us stories about people fainting in the heat, running out of water, and some who needed to be brought up on donkeys in body bags. Our justification was that we were used to hiking long distances, had experience in various situations of weather, heat, etc. He finally wished us well and good luck.

The trailhead elevation is at 6,860 and the river is at 2,400 elevation. We proceeded downward. The trail was great and a steady grade. After the first mile, the canyon walls swallowed us and we began to notice the immense beauty of the canyon. We continued hiking and pass a number of shade houses going down.  Down, down, and down we hiked. As we looked back up we we amazed at the sheer cliffs and how impossible it looked to re-climb back out. Onward and downward we hiked. We did notice that during the last 2 miles before we reached the river the temperature was getting quite warm perhaps in the mid-80s.  Not too bad.

We reach the Colorado River about 10:45am. A bit early for lunch so we just waded into the river and found a spot in the shade just to reflect on this massive river and the historic impact it had on the canyon walls. We were pretty much the first group to reach the river from what we cold tell. Soon we were joined by a small group and a few isolated hikers. Clearly, these forerunners had planned well and we all in top shape.

We took a few pictures and proceeded to hike back up the trail. To the Rim we go!

We hiked for about 45 minutes and stopped for lunch at the Indian Garden rest area. Yes, there were trees for shade. We sat down to eat our lunch and some hikers pass us on their way down. After lunch we proceeded to steadily hike up the trail. The further up the trail we went the more people we saw. By this time it was early afternoon. We stopped and inspected the rest houses on the way up.

We reached the top about 3:45, took a picture by the sign and proceeded directly to the ice cream store and rewarded ourselves with a nice treat.

Special thanks to my sister for watching Andrew.  It was a great weekend and we will never look at the Grand Canyon the same. We were down there at the River.

For more info about the area and the Bright Angel Trail, please click here.

Grand Canyon Rim to River Hike
Adventure ~ Distance ~ Goals ~ Altitude

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