Tom's hike across Grand Canyon in 2006

Date of last edit = 07/04/2006

We drove from Sedona, AZ to the south rim of the Grand Canyon on Friday, June 2, 2006. We arrived just in time to catch dinner with Tom's sister and brother and brother's family at the El Tovar Hotel. We then checked into the Thunderbird Lodge for a good nights sleep. On the next morning (Saturday, June 3), Tom was supposed to get up early and start hiking across the canyon, while Elizabeth and the kids were to check out and drive all the way around to the north rim by way of Cameron, Lee's Ferry, and Jacob Lake.

As it turned out, Tom got up late and missed catching the hikers express bus line to the Kaibab Trailhead. Tom later caught the blue line bus to the bus terminal on the east side of the village, and then caught the green line bus to the Kaibab Trailhead. Tom finally got started hiking about 8:30am. He hiked down the South Kaibab Trail and arrived at Phantom Ranch about 12 noon. Tom spent about an hour eating some lunch and soaking his feet in the cool creek water. He also mixed up a couple batches of gatorade to refill his water bottles. Finally Tom put on new clean socks and continued hiking. The temperature at Phantom Ranch was about 110 degrees F. The water in Bright Angel Creek felt like it was about 50 degrees F.

Tom left Phantom Ranch about 1:00pm and arrived at Cottonwood Campground at about 4:30pm, after a brief rest and water stop near Ribbon Falls. This leg of the hike was during the hottest part of the day. The temperature just north of Phantom Ranch in an area called "The Box" felt much hotter, because the canyon walls are comprised of black rock which absorbs the sunlight and retains much of the solar heat. The temperature at Cottonwood Campground was 105 degrees F, as indicated by the thermometer at that location. Tom spent about 30 minutes at Cottonwood Campground refilling water bottles and resting in the shade, before proceeding onward. Tom stopped at the Ranger Station to eat some dinner (ham sandwich and fruit) and left there about 5:30pm to head toward Roaring Springs.

Tom took an unmarked side trail leading in the direction of the water pump station near Roaring Springs. That trail turned out to be a maintenance trail and not the designated trail to the Roaring Springs campground. Tom was unable to find a continuation trail leading from the pump station to the North Rim trail. Tom decided to bushwack his way up the canyon in order to find the North Rim trail. He finally found a well worn trail, which he believed to be the North Rim trail, but it turned out to merely be the trail to the Roaring Spring campground. Tom was not aware of being on the wrong trail, as he had missed the junction with a sign indicating the directions to Roaring Springs and Cottonwood Campground.

As a result of hiking down the wrong trail, Tom spent about three hours bushwacking around the Roaring Springs campground in an attempt to find the non-existent continuation trail to the North Rim. Eventually Tom gave up and decided to hike back to the Ranger Station in order to leave a message with the Ranger to communicate to his family that he was going to be late getting out of the canyon. While hiking back to the Ranger Station, Tom finally came across the junction and trail signs indicating that he was hiking back from Roaring Springs. This meant that the unmarked trail, leaving the junction, was in fact the path to the north rim.

Tom took that unmarked trail and proceeded to hike in darkness the remaining 5-1/2 miles out to the north rim. Because Tom did not have a flashlight with him, he used his digital camera to take a photo of some white limestone, and then put his camera in playback mode to use that picture of limestone to illuminate the trail. Tom finally reached the top of the north rim about midnight. The north rim trailhead was still about 2 miles from the lodge. Tom hiked the remaining 2 miles to the lodge rather briskly as it was on level pavement and there was no traffic to avoid. Upon his arrival at the lodge, Tom checked in with the front desk and got his cabin number. Tom walked back to the cabin and found Elizabeth and kids sound asleep, but they were glad to see that he had arrived safely. Tom was glad to take a shower and go to sleep.

We spent the next couple of days just loafing around the north rim of the Grand Canyon before driving back to Texas. During our return trip to Texas, we spent one night in Tucson with Tom's brothers family, and the following night was spent in El Paso, TX visiting with Elizabeth's uncle and aunt.

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