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Grand Canyon, December 2005

In December of 2000 Em and I hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and spent two cold nights shivering in our tent and crappy sleeping bags.  Then in August of 2004 Em and I rafted the Grand Canyon and had a fine time sleeping out under the stars.  We vowed to never again visit the canyon in the winter.  Only one year later I was headed back down, without Em, but with Will/Jill and Ma/Pa.  I maintain that I'd rather go during the height of summer rather than the winter, but since my brother was coming all the way from Florida I made an exception.

A very brief summary of this trip follows however if you would like to read about our other Grand Canyon trips use the links below:

2000 December: Hike Grand Canyon
2004 August: Raft Grand Canyon

Friday
Fly to Las Vegas after work.  Meet Ma/Pa and Will/Jill at the Hertz rental office.  Rent mini-van.  Drive to the Luxor.  Get to bed well after midnight.

Saturday
Wake up after 4 hours sleep.  Drive to Grand Canyon (~ 4 hours due to exceeding speed limit by 15 to 20 mph).  Hike down and camp.  Ma/Pa take Bright Angel Trail the whole way.  The rest of us take the Bright Angel Trail to the Tonto Trail to the South Kaibab Trail.  The Tonto Trail is really neat!  Boil in a zip-lock bag dinners are a failure.

Sunday
Wake up with wild turkeys and deer.  Cook oatmeal by pouring boiling water in zip-lock bags.  Abandon zip-lock bags and cook/eat oatmeal from the pot with great success.  Attempt to drink Wolfgang Puck self heating coffee.  Taste is terrible and heat never exceeds luke warm.  Go for walk on River Trail then move gear to cabin.  Take hot showers.  Play blackjack where the winner does NOT have to eat a Harry Potter Bertie Bott's jelly bean.  I almost die eating a rotten egg flavor.  Go for walk with Will up North Kaibab Trail to Phantom Creek before dinner.  Eat steak dinner at Phantom Ranch.  Ma/Pa have lentil loaf.  Go to bed early.

Monday
Up early for 5:30 am breakfast of pancakes, eggs, bacon, canned fruit, orange juice, and coffee at the Phantom Ranch.  Start hike out on South Kaibab Trail.  Make it to top in just under 4 hours.  Catch two shuttle buses back to Bright Angel Lodge and give myself a bath with my bandana in the restroom sink.  Everyone else arrive 1 hour later.  I drive to Las Vegas and on two occasions should have gotten speeding tickets.  Check in a Bellagio.  Eat dinner at Olive's.  Walk around in Bellagio.  Will/Ma play blackjack and win $100.  Get gelato in Bellagio.  Go to bed.  Wake up due to Pa snoring.  Move to bathroom and sleep on floor.

Tuesday
Walk around the strip.  Drive to airport.  Split up.  Catch flights home.

A group shot prior to starting down the Bright Angel Trail.

 

Amazingly vertical faces such as this are not uncommon.

 

After going about halfway down the Bright Angel Trail we turn onto the Tonto Trail which will take us to the South Kaibab Trail. 

 

In case you couldn't tell, it was pretty cold, which is not unexpected for the Grand Canyon in December.

 

When crossing the Tonto Plateau the terrain is generally level but you must weave in and out to go around these drainages.  In this photo we are looking back over trail we have already covered.

 

It's well known that canyon hiking leads to irrational behavior...

 

One must hike for a considerable amount of time before reaching the edge of the Tonto Plateau at which point you get these spectacular views of the Colorado River.

 

Our destination is in sight, the Bright Angel Campgrounds which set amid the trees.  We spent a cold night and were happy knowing we would spend the following night in a Phantom Ranch cabin.

 

Willy and Casey on the South Kaibab Trail.  The portion of the Bright Angel Trail that parallels the river is visible between us.

 

A wild turkey inspects my Jacks R Better quilt / serape.  Since the weather forecast called for clear skies I didn't bring a tent and spent the night out in the elements.  The quilt was not wide enough to cover me when sleeping on my side so it was a cold night.  

 

If you see this man do not make eye contact, slowly turn around, then run away screaming and contact the authorities as soon as possible.

 

After two nights in the canyon we went back up the South Kaibab Trail.  We are about halfway up at this point and decided to take a break.

 

This shot was taken at the same place as the previous one.  In it we see Ma waving as she heads back from the toilets.

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