We are up around 5:45 and head to the McDonalds in Tusayan, my usual pre-hike breakfast place. The magnitude of Tom's snoring last night was more than I anticipated, so I did not get much sleep. After breakfast around 6:15, we decide that if we hurry, we can get our stuff ready in time to catch the 7:00 shuttle instead of waiting for the 8:00 shuttle. It is a mad dash back to Mather Campground to pack our things and head to the Maswik Lodge. I am just getting the last of my things out of my car when the shuttle pulls up. That was close as the shuttle leaves for Yaki Point.
It is cold as we depart the shuttle. We all have our fleece jackets on, but in the rush to get ready I left my gloves back in the car. Trailhead photos are in order.
We are off at 7:40. My boots, which were great on my last two rim to rim hikes, should be even better this hike. I have put in an extra foam insert. We make good time and reach Cedar Ridge in one hour without taking a break. A short rest is now in order. I forgot to tape my big toes at the start, which probably explains why they are hurting now. I get out my tape and take care of that.
In a few minutes, we are off. Before long, we reach O'Neill Butte and start to loop around it. After getting to the other side of O'Neill Butte, we begin the flat stretch to the north. There are great views to the west. In about one hour after leaving Cedar Ridge, we reach Skeleton Point, which is the first place on the South Kaibab Trail where you can see the Colorado River. The views are as great as I remembered from my 1999 hike.
My toes have really been hurting and I do not understand what is causing it. Just a few minutes after leaving Skeleton Point, we come to a series of steep switchbacks that bring you down to the Tonto Platform. These are tough on the knees and my already tender toes. Eventually we reach the bottom of the switchbacks and begin looping around Natural Arch to the north. A mule team with provisions only is headed up the trail. Some extensive trail maintenance is going on due to recent flash flooding, so visitors will not be able to ride the mules again until May 1.
The Tipoff Point is just down the hill. We will stop there and have lunch. The cactus are in full bloom and are very pretty.
After lunch, we hit the trail again. In only a few minutes, we start down a series of switchbacks with great views of the inner Canyon and the Colorado River.
We finally come to one last series of very steep switchbacks leading down to the Kaibab suspension bridge. The view of the River and the bridge is quite impressive. The River is a very pretty, green color. We can see some rafters parked at the beach as we make our way down the switchbacks.
The pain in my toes is incredible. I really do not understand this as I had none of these problems my last two rim to rim hikes, and the first part of the North Kaibab Trail is equally as steep as the South Kaibab. The only thing different this hike is I added those foam inserts to my boots. We make our way through the tunnel leading to the Kaibab suspension bridge, go across the bridge, and stop by some Anasazi ruins on the other side between the trail and the River.
We continue up the trail and across the aluminum bridge to the campground. Surprisingly many of the sites are already taken, but we find a nice large one past the bathroom and set up camp. I immediately take the foam inserts out of my boots as my big toes are now killing me. I see that the foam inserts are very slick on top and apparently this has allowed my foot to slide forward with each downward step. It is obvious that my big toes are in for some hard times the next few days. We go over to Phantom Ranch (I actually limp over), have a beer and write postcards. Our steak dinner is served later. The great meal and beer have helped ease my toe pain a little. I head back to camp for the night.
MAIN INDEX | TRIP INDEX | BACK TO PREFACE | FORWARD TO DAY 2