So began my return backpacking trip into the Grand Canyon. This time Ian, my son, was able to make it with me. I had gotten backcountry permits for three consecutive days.
You have to get up early to go into the canyon.
We started off camped in Mather Campground, the car-camping site at the Grand Canyon. We awoke around 4:30am and broke camp and had the car packed (and our backpacks loaded) by 5:15. We then drove over to the Visitor’s Center to catch the Shuttle Bus to the South Kaibab Trailhead.
Fortunately, the bus driver did not mind my bare feet.
We started hiking at 6:00am, with the sun having risen about half and hour previously. One reason for the early start was that I really, really wanted to do it all barefoot; you may recall that last year when I did it alone I got a later start, and by the time I got near the bottom of the canyon the sand had gotten too hot to walk on barefooted.
Here is my son Ian shortly after we started. You can see the sunrise behind him.
Farther down we approached O’Neill Butte.
When I did this last year, it was a Saturday, and the trail was extremely busy. This time it was a Tuesday, and the trail was relatively empty.
There were still quite a few folks who noticed and commented on my bare feet.
Here’s my son as we headed from O’Neill Butte to Skeleton Point. (You’re going to see a lot of his back—he always seemed to want to go faster than me.)
Here we are farther down, with a good view of the Colorado River.
I had no trouble hiking barefoot past where I’d done it last year. We were early enough that the sand/dirt/soil/rocks we still even cool.
Here I am well past where I had to get shod last time.
Let me say that the trail was really easy to do barefoot. Sure, there were a few gravelly parts, but I was mostly able to step around the bothersome chunks. The hardest part about going down the South Kaibab is that it is all downhill, and my knees really didn’t appreciate that. And near the end, my hip muscles were also complaining pretty loudly.
You can also see that Ian is back to his Vibrams.
There just are not that many places where you can train for a 1-mile continuous descent.
At the bottom of the Canyon on the S. Kaibab trail you suddenly hit a tunnel that leads to a bridge over the Colorado River. Since I didn’t take a picture there this year (to be explained), I’ll leave you with the picture of me there from last year (shod, as I explained, because of the hot soil).
Next blog entry we’ll pick up the story . . .