Grand Canyon Day 3 – From the Esplanade to the North Rim

The overnight wind had amplified the chilliness of the ~50 degF overnight temps. We’d chosen down blankets over sleeping bags to save weight, and I’d got a bit chilled a couple of times, but Samuel had been fine. The “5.4 degF per 1000 ft” rule seemed to be applying well. The day was bringing a 6-mile, 2000-ft climb so it was not a rushed start, but we still wanted to beat the heat. We enjoyed the sunrise catching the edge of the rim before heading off across the Esplanade’s rocks. Shortly before the Bill Hall switchbacks, a lone hiker passed going the other direction. Other than the REI group, she was the only other hiker we had seen in these three days. We managed to complete most of the switchbacks before the sun rose enough to warm us, but we’d had plenty of water (actually dumping about one liter before the climb).

Not a bad stage for our tent!
Our view for breakfast.
One of the reflector markers that had guided us by night.

The sun is rising!
Up there? And we can’t even see the top :(.
Flowering cactus beautify the trail, and give me an excuse to stop and take a photo!
The view across the Esplanade hides Surprise Valley, Thunder Falls, and Deer Creek.
But this view is still very impressive!
There is still plenty of time for a rest.
But the trail remains steep!
I love the baby pinecones.
Each side of the path, much of the ground was covered in this crypto-biotic soil. Micro-organisms have formed a protective crust over the sand, preventing erosion by wind or rain. The crust is easily destroyed by footprints leading to erosion.
Up there? Really? Surprisingly, there was a path.
Samuel, who led the whole hike, is declaring the hike up the hill is finished!
The final hike back down to the trailhead reveals just two cars, reminding us of the isolation of this special place.

The car was a welcome sight, and the inside had kept some water cold. Clean clothes and wet wipes were very refreshing. As we still had much of the day, we decided to check out the official North Rim, which was still over an hour’s drive away. It was a pleasant drive through lush Kaibab National Forests ending with fantastic views of the rim, right out of the window of the lodge! While there were other people with perhaps cars parked at the trailhead for the main corridor trail to the South Rim, the crowds are nothing compared to the much busier south.

The obligatory photo upon entering the popular section of a National Park
Phantom Ranch is close to the river. This emphasizes the 20-30 degF difference.
Accessible to all, the view from the North Rim lodge is still breathtaking.
You can see the trail coming down off the South Rim that leads down to the river.

So that was our 3-day adventure. I was pleased with my fitness and that my old joints don’t appear to be that old! Samuel and I remain needing to be challenged in our adventures and finding ones with the right balance remains my challenge. We have already made the pact that neither of us wants to go home to tell Janet that the other one didn’t make it, and that helps us manage our risk!

I’m not sure if we will return here, as there are too many other places to go! If we do, there are a couple of options. First, we fancy the idea of doing the “rim to rim to rim” in the winter. This would be starting from the South when the North Rim is closed to traffic because it is under too much snow, but one can still hike to it from within the Grand Canyon. While the rim temperatures can be brutal, the canyon bottom can be quite moderate. The second option is known as the Escalante Route which is a 33-mile, 5-day arduous trek from the South Rim, mostly following the Colorado.

But before the next visit, there was still lots more happening on this visit. A rest day was planned, and then Buckskin Gulch. Much more ended up happening, so read on day 4 (a surprisingly cool rest day) and day 5 (Buckskin Gulch).

This page is linked to from my Grand Canyon Buckskin Gulch home page.

Published by Peter Ireland

I am originally from England, and my wife Janet is from Louisiana. When we started Geocaching in 2002, we needed a name, and the Cajunlimeys were created, and that is the name I use for my blog. Even though Janet has no Cajun blood, her cooking is excellent! “Limeys” comes from the nickname for English sailors, who ate limes to prevent scurvy. We live in Houston, Texas, with Bailey and Samuel. We love adventures and want to share the experiences with others. When planning trips, I have found other people’s sites very useful, so I want to give back and add a different perspective.

One thought on “Grand Canyon Day 3 – From the Esplanade to the North Rim

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: