Thursday, December 14, 2017

Desert View - Day 34 - The South Kaibab

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7:35 am - Thursday - December 14th - Grand Canyon - 32º F, 31% humidity, wind 9 mph out of the east.....sunny, windy with a forecast high to day of 51º F.

When we met up with Art Young at the Delaware North Christmas party the other night we made plans to meet at the Yaki Point parking lot at 10 am on Wednesday to hike a portion of the South Kaibab Trail whose trailhead is near Yaki Point.  Ever since we first glimpsed the upper section of this trail a couple of weeks ago when we were walking the Rim Trail I have wanted to return and hike 3 miles down to Skeleton Point (6 miles round trip).  I thought hiking the upper portion of this trail might help TLE regain her confidence, and at some future point join me in hiking all the way down to the Colorado River and Phantom Ranch.

We arrived at the parking lot just off SR-64 about 9:50 am, and Art was just a few minutes behind arriving at 5 til 10.  We were on our way walking within minutes the 1/2 mile to the trailhead talking about this and that.  Soon we were at the trailhead where we took an 'usie' to memorialize the beginning of our adventure......

 Just entering the South Kaibab trail


......just .9 miles down the trail you come to 'Ooh Aah' Point aptly named for obvious reasons....even TLE could not resist one 'ooh aah'....


.....I continue to marvel at the labor intensive trail construction that must have been accomplished with only hand tools many, many years prior......


......this trail is so much easier to hike than the Grandview Trail I wrote about a few weeks ago.....on a scale of 1-10, 10 being most difficult, the Grandview trail would be a 10+.....the South Kaibab would be around a 4.....seriously!


At the 1.5 mile mark we came to Cedar Ridge deriving its name from the cedar trees scattered about the area.....Cedar Ridge also has pit toilets......quite nice pit toilets if I may say so myself.....


.....we took a short break and were on our way to our goal for the day....Skeleton Point.....so, I wondered, how did this vista point derive its name?  I Googled is and found this explanation....."Skeleton Point - When you visit the Phantom Ranch cantina, look for the mule trip map on the wall. The wranglers have a tradition of landmarks and place-names uniquely associated with their perspective and profession. The story of Skeleton Point is that freight mules are all tied together nose-to-tail on the trail and that one of these mules took the whole string over the cliff here. The pile of bones that resulted gave this place-name, and the bones are gone but the name sticks.Okay, that is a little disconcerting.....anybody for a mule ride down the South Kaibab Trail now?

One of the things I love about this trail is that you can see where you will be in 30 minutes.....in this picture you can see the trail snaking its way ever downward......


.......we left the Yaki Point parking lot around 10 am, and reached Skeleton Point two hours later at almost exactly 12 pm......it did not seem like we had hiked 3.5 miles (1/2 mile to the trailhead, plus 3 miles to Skeleton Point).  We took our Camelback hydration packs off, found a place to sit and ate a snack while talking about the view, and how easy the trail had been to this point.  From Skeleton Point to Phanton Ranch is another 4 miles.  I could easily see myself hiking the entire 7.5 miles in 5 hours, or so.  The wonderful news is that so can TLE!

  She's still smiling!


.....while ate my Power Bar snack I noticed a little bird right next to me left foot.....I think he/she was hoping for a few crumbs......


....we began our return trek back to the rim of the Grand Canyon about 12:20 pm.....I took a short video of what it looks like to walk along the South Kaibab trail.....


.....I did my best to capture the essence of the views along the South Kaibab, but my pictures just do not do what we saw justice.......nevertheless, I think you get the idea of how beautiful the views are.....we stopped often to just take it all in......


.....there was a layer of smoke visible to the north from fires burning in that area.....




.....the advice given on the information sign about the South Kaibab trail is that one should anticipate it taking twice as long to hike up the trail as down.  Since we left at 12:20 we were expecting it to take 3-4 hours for the return hike to the trailhead, but we actually made it back to the top in 2 hours arriving at the trailhead at 2 pm.....another 15 minutes to the parking lot and our total return time was just under 2.5 hours....


.......by 1:40 pm we found ourselves at the base of the upper switchbacks knowing it would only be another 20 minutes until we hit the rim once again.....


.....by the time we reached the top we were a little giddy about how easy the entire round trip hike had been.....so much different than my experience on the Grandview Trail.  We were back at the cars by 2:20, or so, and within minutes driving into the South Rim Village Marketplace to have a late lunch at the Yavapai Tavern, where we had eaten just two weeks weeks prior.  Art, TLE and I quickly ordered three Piehole Porters to go along with our sandwiches (the GCT BLT for moi), and then spent the next two hours talking about our day, and what a wonderful day it was.  We began making plans for an overnight hike which will take us all the way down the South Kaibab to Phanton Ranch where we will overnight in a campground, then hike out the next day on the Bright Angel Trail.

By 5 pm we were bidding our adieus and on our way to our respective domiciles.  We arrived back home around 5:40, where TLE and I continued to talk about our future overnight hike.  So here are the Strava results from our South Kaibab adventure.....


.....total elevation gain 2,072' over 3 miles......compare that to the almost 3,000' elevation gain on the Grandview Trail.  We averaged 27 minutes per mile for the entire hike....just over 2 mph an hour......our total moving time was 3 hours, 19 minutes, and total caloric units vaporized 1,322!  Total distance covered.....7.3 miles.....once again it did not feel like we hike over 7 miles.




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