Grand Canyon Rim to Rim in a Day

Check another one off the bucket list!

A unexpected adventure seed was planted a few years back while reading through a cycling touring book; Bicycle Journeys with Jerry.  A group of retired folks trekked across the Grand Canyon in a day.  Heck if they can do it we can do it, right??? Err…Ugh…Umm

All the reading material we could find HIGHLY DISCOURAGED attempting to hike across the Grand Canyon in a single day.  Plus after attempting to book primitive camping and laying out our travel plans with the rangers we received a letter back recommending we reconsider along with this message –

Experience has shown that trips such as the one you requested all too often result in off-itinerary camping, injury, and occasionally death.”  & “Your request indicated that you intended to hike rim to rim; will mean a 25 mile hike to the South Rim.  This distance is virtually impossible for all but ultra marathon runners who have been training for years for a challenge of this magnitude.

Once you get a idea planted in your head it’s hard to be talked out of it and it was a trip of a lifetime to complete, possibly even more so since it was discouraged.

A summary of the trip was:

  1. Leave Austin 7 am and arrive in Phoenix at 7:25 am
  2. 8:30 am drive from Phoenix to the South Rim
    • 20 min pit-stop in Flagstaff for Lunch
  3. 12:30 pm Arrive at the Bright Angel Lodge at the South Rim to take in the Views
  4. 1:00 pm Check in with the Trans Canyon Shuttle
  5. 1:30 pm Depart Bright Angel Lodge for the North Rim
    • We talked the TCS touring company into letting us drop off our rental car near the gravel lot at the South Kaibab Trail Head
  6. 6:30 pm arrive at the North Rim Lodge just in time for dinner reservations (booked 6 months in advance)
  7. 8:30 pm Hike the 1 mile from the Lodge to the campgrounds
  8. 10 pm asleep
  9. 3:45 am alarm phone clock
  10. 4:30 am 1 mile hike to the North Kaibab Trail Head
  11. 4:50am the hike starts at 8,250 ft
  12. 10:20am arrive at Phantom Ranch at 2,400ft
  13. 2 hour lunch break (longer then expected)
  14. 1:20pm start up the South Kaibab Trail
    • 7 mile trail with slightly less water stops (only by 2 miles), less shade (still some), steeper, but it’s shorter
  15. 5:50pm Made it out of the South Rim at 7,200ft
Heading through the Supai Tunnel at mile # 2 of 21
Heading through the Supai Tunnel at mile # 2 of 21

Our Supplies (we over packed)

  1. Large Hiking pack & backpack, both have holders for Camelbaks
  2. 2 x 3 liter Camelbak (refilled twice apiece)
  3. 2 x 20 ounce water bottles (used to mix Pedialyte Powder mix x 6)
  4. 9 Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches (we ate 8 of them)
  5. 4 bags of beef jerky (only needed one)
  6. 1+ lb bag of trail mix (ate only 4 handfuls)
  7. Lightweight camping tent (weighs in at 2.5lbs)
  8. $8 Academy Sleep Bag x 2 (we donated these to the North Rim Camping store)
  9. 2 x Air-up pool rafts as sleeping pads (also donated)
  10. Clothes – Hiking pant/shorts, breathable shirt, hiking boots, two pairs of socks, headlamp, thin rain jacket, Thermal Underwear long sleeve Shirt, beanie, light “magic”  gloves (lows were in the 30’s overnight at the north rim) x 2

The biggest question we were asked leading up to it was “Why?”, most implying to take our time and enjoy the scenery.  I thought about this quite a bit during the hike and pondered the question of “am I not enjoying the views?” or “would I enjoy this more over a multi-day span?”.

We feel like we are getting closer
We feel like we are getting closer

It wasn’t until half-way through until I started to get a idea of why people view that we are not enjoying it.  At Phantom Ranch around noon surrounded by hikers alike, people asked “what trail did you take?”, “what trail you taking out”, and “how long are you staying?”.  Once we told folks what we were up to most rolled their eyes in disbelief or glad it wasn’t them.  Once we told them we were heading up South Kaibab Trail they all thought we were crazy, “it’s too hot”, “not enough water”, and “no shade”.  We decided they were from the North or West Coast, it only got up to 88 degrees that day.

These comments seemed very similar to those who said we were rushing through the hike; naysayers!  Call it the human psyche or what not, but it seems if you are taking something to a extreme from anothers point of view then it must not be enjoyable.  For the record we very much enjoyed the views and the sights in a day.

We were lucky though at lunch to run into one couple, in fact the only couple to pass us on the downhill hike in, they were in their 50’s-60’s from North Carolina.  They asked the same question as others, but when we let them know the concerns the others have brought up they simply asked “how long did it take you to come down?”.  With our response of 5 hours 30 minutes (their time was 4 hours 30 minutes) they quickly responded that we would be fine and that we would make it up in 4 hours as they have many times (we allotted 7 hours, but made it in 5.5 hours).

Their well timed positive words of encouragement were all we needed to continue our plans and to complete this trip of a lifetime.

— Hike the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim in a Day – CHECK

(Can’t see the slideshow above? You need flash, but go here in the meantime)

About Dustin Orrick

Techie, TreeHugger, Outdoor Adventurist, Motorhead, and can now say World Traveler!

One thought on “Grand Canyon Rim to Rim in a Day

  1. You did it in a day, we’re taking four days!!!! We are also doing it in July. I’m worried about the heat. I’ve spent the last 8 years in Oregon, I’m not used to the heat anymore!!! Anyway, so glad it was a good experience 🙂

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