Monday, April 26, 2010

Grand Canyon :: Kaibab Trail to Cedar Ridge

Our first foray into the Grand Canyon on Monday (April 12th) was a relatively short one; only a mile and a half in length, but it is also had a descent of 1140 feet, starting at an elevation of 7200 feet on the rim and ending at 6060 feet at Cedar Ridge. And, of course, what goes down must also come up! It took us an hour and 15 minutes to make the descent. The trail was in fairly good condition, no snow or ice. But what amazed me was that it took us just 15 minutes longer to make the climb back to the top! And we stopped along the way. A lot. At almost every turn of the switchbacks!

The description of the trail was given as “Maintained dirt trail. Steep. Well defined. Little shade on trail, mostly from canyon walls and dependent on time of day.” That really doesn't do it justice. It's rocky in many places. It had some pretty high steps. It's very steep. It's strenuous. It's challenging. It was fun! Really.

The view from the rim as we were starting out. It was a beautiful day. Sunshine. Blue skies. Cool temperatures just right for hiking with great company.

Switchbacks as you come down from the rim.

More switchbacks going down... did I mention that the trail was steep?

Sue and Fred, taking a break. (Photos of them, and those taken by them, used with their permission.)

Behind me is the section of trail we had just come down, one of the easier sections, I might add. Of course, we were still going down. It didn't look so easy going back up! (Photo by Sue.)

Back on the trail. Still going down.

Another steep section showing the rugged condition of the trail. It was difficult to maintain your stride in these sections with the logs across the path.

Our destination is in sight! The Kaibab trail continues on past the ridge then winds it's way down the next peak, eventually reaching the river some six miles or more away.

On the way down we had encountered several spots of gusty wind along the trail where we just had to stand still to maintain our footing until the wind passed by. When we reached the ridge plateau, there was a light breeze blowing. It was warm in the sunshine. It was very nice. We walked on out to the end of the ridge, that “pile” of rocks in the center of the photo, and ate our lunch. The wind picked up a little so we moved to a more protected spot and waited for the wind to die down.

During a little lull, we decided to climb back to the flat area. At one particularly narrow spot, the wind came up fast and furious. Sue and I were caught in a gust of wind, I grabbed her arm, not only to steady myself but to steady her as well. We weren't sure that we could keep our footing. It was a bit of a scary moment, it passed, but not soon enough for either of us! If we had fallen off, the drop to the next level was only a few feet, but still, we were more than a little concerned. All of a sudden the wind stopped and we literally ran off of that ledge. With the helping hand of another hiker we scrambled up the last few rocks onto level ground and quickly made our way to a somewhat safer area to settle our nerves.

Looking back at the section of trail that leads down to Cedar Ridge.

The final switchbacks going up to the rim. We're almost there! Thus far on my journey, this was the most challenging and difficult three-mile trek I've made. Was it worth it? Oh, yeah! Would I have made the trek if I had been alone? I'm not sure. I'm just glad that Sue and Fred were there to coax me along the trail. Thank you!

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