Grand Canyon (June 2013

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Hike from the North Rim to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Mark & Max Miller
Starting the hike, dawn, North Rim, 42 degrees
The North Kaibab Trail runs down this tributary canyon, from the
upper right to the lower left of the picture. The North Rim is the
horizon, along the top of the picture. The greenery toward the
bottom of the canyon (bottom center of the picture) is the
location of Phantom Ranch -- cabins where sane people spend the
night before hiking back up to the top. (I think it can take years to
get a reservation there, though.)
Son Max on the trail. 15 miles downhill to the Colorado River. Even
downhill, it's a long hike, getting hotter all the way. The lower
section turned into a twisting maze through steep cliffs that
seemed like we had wandered into the Twilight Zone forever.
101 degrees here. This is the river that supplies most of the water for Las Vegas, Phoenix, and
many other cities of the Southwest, along with irrigation for agriculture & golf courses, and
much of the area's hydroelectric power. Hardly a drop makes it to the ocean anymore. The river
levels have been steadily dropping, after many years of drought in the region.
Bright Angel Trail: the route up to the South Rim. You can see a bit of the Colorado River in this
picture, and the trail starting to wind upward. This trail is about 9 miles long and about a mile
uphill. They say you could stack 4 Empire State Buildings on top of one another from the
bottom, and they would not reach the top. The bottom of the rim has a climate like the Mexico
border, and the top of the North Rim has a climate like Canada.
The National Park Service posts many very graphic warning signs about the heat and other
demands of the Canyon. Too many tourists skip down the trail without enough water, sunscreen,
etc. - -then realize that it's a lot harder to hike back up. There are over 250 helicopter rescues
per year -- at a cost to the victim, I'm told, of over $1500. My son started feeling the effects of
the heat shortly after we crossed the river: he drank plenty of water, but probably lost too much
salt. He had a looong, slow climb back to the top -- but he did it! (Not to brag, but I felt pretty
good; I had been working out on stair steps in the Mississippi heat for months in advance.)
Fortunately, we had brought flashlights, just in case. We made the South Rim by 10:00 p.m., &
were showered and tucked in our beds at the lodge shortly thereafter. Too late for dinner that
night, but it was a darn good breakfast the next morning :-)
My boots, that night,
tied together with the
chinstrap of my hat after
the hot rocks of the
Canyon floor melted the
glue holding on the
soles. To their credit,
these (LL Bean) boots
survived Katrina cleanup, a week's backpack
through Yellowstone,
multiple backpacking
trips in the Smokies, and
recent tornado clean-up
in Hattiesburg.
Alive & recuperating on the South Rim, the next morning 
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