Grand Canyon Rim to Rim August 2016

FRIDAY afternoon

Carey and I arrived at the Grand Canyon south rim in the late afternoon, after a long 8 hour drive through the desert from north San Diego county. The day was still early enough for us to enjoy the scenery, visit the gift store and take a walk along the rim. Foolishly I left my Fuji X-T10 camera behind in the car when we first arrived, so my first impressions were all captured on my iPhone. Carey captured images on Friday afternoon with her iPhone and a Fujifilm FinePix XP90.

The story of our Grand Canyon rim to rim trek is told here by me (Theresa), with images taken by both Carey and I.

Theresa and Carey.
Our first look at the canyon was near the Bright Angel Trailhead, where we would finish our rim to rim trek three days later.

Some scenes from our walk along the south rim.


Friday evening

After checking into our room we grabbed camera gear and headed back to the rim in hopes of capturing a beautiful sunset. The rim was crowded with lots of tourists hoping for the same.

Grandeur Point
It was a cloudy evening with no sign of a colorful sunset.

Maher Point

Mather Point at the recently improved Grand Canyon Visitor Center is a popular sunset viewing spot. The point is large enough to comfortably fit a good sized crowd.

Watch your step.

A handful of people were spotted on unprotected and less crowded lookout points.

Color and Textural Details

The light began to change minutes before the sun set.
Never lose the opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is god's handwriting. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunset Panorama

This is a five image panorama stitched with Adobe Lightroom. The vertically oriented canyon in the center of the image is where we will hike on Sunday.

Saturday morning

The day started very early in hopes of catching the sunrise at Yaqui Point, but we hadn't planed well enough to get there. After walking 1.5 miles in the pre dawn, down a road that didn't allow public vehicles, we realized we weren't going to make it to Yaqui Point by sunrise. We also had an 8:00 am shuttle to catch back at Bright Angel Lodge, and couldn't chance being late for that. We aborted our original plan and headed to the rim trail.

Saturday morning sunrise. Captured from the rim trail close to the visitor center.

After snapping a few post sunrise photos, we drove to Bright Angel Lodge and parked our car nearby. We had time to enjoy breakfast with a view, and our last coffee and tea until Monday morning.

Photo op at the Bright Angel Lodge.
Morning light at Bright Angel Trailhead

Mule Power

The mules and riders were getting ready for their trek down Bright Angel Trail. The cowboy told the riders that mules are the safest way to trek into the canyon, and that hikers are often injured suffering twisted ankles and bloody knees. I'm pretty sure he said that on our behalf as we stood close by listening.
The shuttle ride was 4 long hours with 2 rest stops along the way. Our driver kept us entertained with stories about the Grand Canyon and surrounding areas. He was a 60 something hippie who had come to the Grand Canyon for a summer job in 1982 and had never left.

Saturday afternoon

Grand Canyon Lodge

The Grand Canyon Lodge on the north rim is a must see. Built in 1927, and sitting at an elevation 2000 feet higher than the south rim, makes it uniquely different from the more populated south rim.

The lodge sits right on the rim offering stunning wide angle views. We ate our lunch on the deck and marveled at nature's opulence.

Grand Canyon Lodge

The lodge offers incredible views with plenty of comfortable places to just sit and soak in the beauty.

Bright Angel Point

The Bright Angel Point lookout is a short walk east of the lodge. It offers incredible 360˚ views, but it's not an easy place for those who suffer severe fear of heights.

Carey has no such fear.
Theresa tries hard not to be afraid.

The View From Bright Angel Point

Grand Canyon Lodge can be seen in the distance.

Canyon Details

The view straight down offers some beautiful colors and textures.

Saturday evening

We ended the day by watching the sun set from the top of Bright Angel Point.

The sunset was less than spectacular but we were fine with that.

Saturday night

Back at the lodge we saw musicians gathering at the saloon, so we went inside to check it out. It turned out that there was a bluegrass workshop being held, and all the musicians came to the saloon for a jam session. The bass player showed up a little later than everyone else, and when he joined in mid song, the audience erupted in applause.

Sunday morning

Time to hit the trail.

Free shuttle service is offered to guests from the Grand Canyon Lodge to the North Kaibab Trail Head, which is two miles away. We rode the 5:30 am shuttle along with other rim-to-rim hikers and backpackers. Daylight was just breaking as we prepared to begin our trek.

Coconino Overlook at Sunrise

The first view of the canyon trail at .9 miles, captured at 6:18 am.
More from Coconino Lookout. The group of backpackers in the lower right image traveled all the way from Greece to make the rim-to-rim Grand Canyon trek.

Supai Tunnel Area

The Supai Tunnel is 1.7 miles from the trailhead. It is a popular destination for day hikers from the north rim. Just before the tunnel is a rest area that includes bathrooms and running water. On the other side of the tunnel are incredible views of the canyon and trail below.

The bathroom is located at the end of this trail that passes under a large rock.

We felt dwarfed by our surroundings.

Entering Supai Tunnel
Exiting Supai Tunnel

The view after passing through Supai Tunnel.

Upper Roaring Springs Canyon Bridge

How did they build that?

Looking Back

The view from the bridge looking back at the path we have traveled.

Cliff Side Trail

After crossing the bridge, the trail heads along the edge of a cliff. At first glance it's difficult to make out the trail.

Right in the center of this image are two trekkers on their way up.

The green line follows the trail.

This is the only place on the trail where I felt a little weak kneed. I would have been fine if I hadn't stopped to enjoy the view, and take pictures of Carey on the edge of the cliff behind me.

Me leaning into the wall to steady myself.

Mid Morning Snack Break

After three hours of hiking we found this great spot right off the trail, perfect for a snack break.

Break time.
The view from our break spot.

It's impossible to really capture what it feels like to be in the canyon. These two images we took of each other from opposite vantage points, comes close to telling the story.

Roaring Springs

The terrain noticeably changes around the same time the roar of roaring springs waterfall can be heard. We opted not to take the detour to the falls because it's one way in and out.

Not too far past the Roaring Springs trail we saw the first prickly pear cactus apples.

Pump House Ranger Station

At 5.4 miles is the ranger station and Mazanita Rest Area. We arrived here a little after 10:00 am. We met a father hiking with his young son who were on their way up from Phantom Ranch. They told us the temperature had reached 115˚ the day before at the Ranch, which made us very thankful for the mild 80s we were experiencing.

Equipped with bathrooms, maps, thermometer, running water, benches and a ranger station.

In The Canyon

A couple more miles down the trail and the terrain flattens out, following the stream much of the way.

Fun With iPhone 180˚ Panoramas


Sunday afternoon

Ribbon Falls

The falls are are short detour off the main trail. The route is well marked and the destination is a must see. We spent an hour and half here and at the end we were sad to leave.

To experience sublime natural beauty is to confront the total inadequacy of language to describe what you see. Words cannot convey the scale of a view that is so stunning it is felt. -Eleanor Catton
Carey went uncomfortably far out on a ledge to capture the upper, upper falls.
Carey is talking with a couple we met from Wisconsin. Their presence on the cliff help give scale to the falls.

We waited for the group of women who arrived before us to finish their lunch and head back out on the trail, then we went down to the pool and enjoyed it for ourselves.

We had to play in the water even if it was a bit too cold for my liking.

Home Stretch to Phantom Ranch

Not too long after we left Ribbon Falls, the wheather changed and the skies threatened rain. Deciding not to take chances on getting caught in a down pour, I packed away my camera and left the remaining photo taking to my iPhone. We walked this section at a brisker pace, mostly in the silence of our own thoughts.

What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us. - Henry David Thoreau
My shoulders were more tired than my legs at this point, so I carried my poles most of the remaining way.

We arrived at Phantom Ranch after 10 hours on the trail, having had taken our time to enjoy every step of the way.

Phantom Ranch

There were two hours to kill before dinner, so we did our best to get off our feet and just relax.

It felt great to take off our boots and soak our feet in the cold stream.
Our girl dorm bunk house was everything we needed and nothing more.

Sunday Night

Family Style Dinner

We opted for the beef stew dinner which is served in the later time slot along with the vegetable stew. Apparently the menu hasn't changed much in 40 years. The stew dinner includes an excellent fresh salad and corn bread. Dinner is served family style. When it's gone, it's gone. Cold beer is also available. I purchased a local brand and was almost too tired to finish it.

The cantina, dining hall, rec room, mail house and gift shop all in one.

Monday morning

The day started early with breakfast at 5:30am. We headed back to the trail after we ate.

Dawn at the Ranch.
Some of the scenery leaving Phantom Ranch. The sun hadn't risen over the canyon walls yet, but it was light enough for us to hike without head lamps.
Some of the scenery on the way out of the north side of the canyon.

Bright Angel Suspension Bridge

Crossing the Colorado River to the south side of the Grand Canyon.

First rays of morning sunlight.

Golden color of daybreak.

River Rest House

The trail starts to climb right after the River Rest House, following along the edge of Pipe Creek much of the way.

Golden morning light reflects on the stream making a nice photo op.
The lush green contrasts nicely with the rocky cliffs.

Top of the inner canyon switch backs

Climbing the first set of switchbacks was surprisingly easy, but it still felt great to look back and admire where we had come.

Enjoying the view from the top of the switch backs.
The view looking north.
View of the trail ahead.

Garden Creek

When the trail picks up along Garden Creek the landscape gets really green again. This is also the point where we started seeing a lot more people.

Early Afternoon

Indian Garden

Indian Garden is the halfway point between Phantom Ranch and the south rim, with 5 miles behind us and 4.5 left to go. It felt like afternoon when we reached here, but it was really only 9am. We ate lunch and rested for a little over an hour.

Indian Garden is a busy place. We had lots of company.

After the nice break and a good lunch, we were ready to tackle the steepest part of our journey.

Heading out of Indian Garden to the top of the cliffs ahead.

Climb to 3 Mile Resthouse

The trail out of Indian Garden begins with a gradual climb...

... and then rapidly changes just before the 3 Mile Rest House.

The 3 Mile Rest House is a popular destination for day hikers starting from the south rim. Every year hundreds have to be rescued because they head into the canyon ill prepared for the terrain and the heat. This sign is a reminder for anyone thinking of heading down even further.

CAUTION! Down is optional. UP IS MANDATORY

Final climb to the Bright Angel Trailhead on the south rim.

A picture of me taking the picture on the right.
The trail traveled
Just past the 1.5 Mile Rest House which is on the right.
Are we there yet?
At the lower tunnel which is .75 mile from the top.
Six frame panorama stitched in Lightroom. Less than half a mile from the top.

Historic Kolb Studio Art and upper tunnel are a short distance ahead.

Monday Afternoon

Rim to Rim Journey Complete

At the rim, feeling on top of the world!
Facebook selfie.
Hi honey, we're back to civilization with cell service again.

We reached the trailhead at 12:30 in the afternoon, walked to our car in a nearby parking lot, cleaned up, changed our clothes, and drove the 8 hours back to San Diego.

On the way home we were treated to this.

Created By
Theresa Jackson


Photography by Theresa Jackson and Carey Gansert

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