Natural Wonders of the World - 1 Down 6 to Go

Tripoto
30th Aug 2019

The sun rays entering the canyon

Photo of Natural Wonders of the World - 1 Down 6 to Go by Offbeat Voyagers
Day 1

Since the time I moved to Arizona, Grand Canyon has been one of the top things on my to do list. After witnessing the beauty of the Indian Grand Canyon, it was finally the time to experience the real one.

Labor Day Weekend was approaching and we knew we had to get out of the city and explore the state. What better starting point than one of the seven natural wonders of the world. As soon as the idea was proposed, 4 people agreed to take the trip and hence we decided to rent a car for the trip. The rental service we chose was Enterprise as it provided the vehicle at a reasonable cost with unlimited miles. A few things to keep in mind:

1) The booking needs a credit card with your name on it if you do not possess an in-state driving license

2) The insurance costs about $15 per day

3) The card to be used for payment can be changed when you return the vehicle

4) Indian driving licenses are accepted

We were fortunate as when we went to pick up the car, we were given a free upgrade and some excess fuel which just made the whole experience more joyful. The car we were supposed to get was the Kia Soul but we got the Nissan Rogue instead. The total cost for the rental along with the insurance came up to $150. We set out with the car towards Walmart to pick up supplies for the trip and at 1 AM on Saturday left for the Grand Canyon. The drive took us around 4 hours with cruise control doing half the work and a whole lot of stars adoring the night sky. We stopped a few times to gaze at the stars as there was no light pollution most of the way. The road was empty for most of the time with one or two vehicles occasionally passing by. We arrived in the town right before the Grand Canyon National Park at 4:40 AM and parked outside a McDonald's to get something to eat but had to wait till 5 AM for it to open. When we got out of the car to go to the McDonald's we realized how much the temperature had fallen as it had gone from 37° C to 9° C.

Day 2

After we got done with breakfast, we drove towards the Grand Canyon National Park which was about 15 mins away. The entrance to the park costs $35 for a car which is to be paid at the entrance and the receipt for the same has to be displayed in the car as proof. On entering the national park we decided to go to the South Kaibab Trail to hike from the rim to the river. While we were driving to the trailhead we came across Pipe Creek which offers stunning views of the canyon.

Sunrise

Photo of Pipe Creek Vista, East Rim Drive, Grand Canyon Village, AZ, USA by Offbeat Voyagers

After breathing in the majestic views of the canyon, we headed further towards the trailhead and realized that vehicles were not allowed there and that we had to park the car in the parking lot and take the bus there. We parked the car, filled our bags with a bottle of Powerade, some energy bars and 1.5 gallons of water and went to the bus stand. On inquiring around, we understood that we had to take blue route bus in order to get to the South Kaibab Trailhead and that is exactly what we did.

The trail begins with a steep descent

Photo of South Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon Village, AZ, USA by Offbeat Voyagers

The trail goes along a few hills

Photo of South Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon Village, AZ, USA by Offbeat Voyagers

The bus had maps and other information on board to help hikers find their way. Since South Kaibab is a famous trail, you can find it on Google Maps but you won't require it as the trail is well marked from start to end. There are taps at the start of the trail to stock up on water as the trail itself does not contain water along the way.

Photo of South Kaibab Trailhead, Grand Canyon Village, AZ, USA by Offbeat Voyagers
Photo of South Kaibab Trailhead, Grand Canyon Village, AZ, USA by Offbeat Voyagers

We began the hike at 7 Am with the goal of making it to the river and back before the end of the day without knowing what lay ahead. The path is full of mud which makes it very slippery at some places which calls for caution while hiking down. As we made our way towards the Colorado river, one thing was clear that we won't be getting a lot of shade as there were barely any trees or structures to provide the same. The only shade that we were fortunate to get came from the hills which required us to go around them. As we had begun early, the climate was forgiving till the time we made it to the bottom which took us about 3 hours of continuous descent. We came across a lot of people who we were on their way to the Bright Angel Campground as it was the recommended stop in the pursuit of doing the hike from the rim to the river and back in 2 days.

It is not a Lake!!!

Photo of South Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon Village, AZ, USA by Offbeat Voyagers

That is the Colorado River!

Photo of South Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon Village, AZ, USA by Offbeat Voyagers
Photo of South Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon Village, AZ, USA by Offbeat Voyagers

Just a random sign post

Photo of South Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon Village, AZ, USA by Offbeat Voyagers

South Kaibab Bridge

Photo of South Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon Village, AZ, USA by Offbeat Voyagers

On crossing the above bridge, we got to the shore of the river where we spent some time resting and having snacks that we had carried. There are rafts at this point for people who want to have a joy ride in the rapids of the river. One of the interesting things was that despite the heat, the water was icy cold but that didn't deter people from diving in and swimming around. The dip was extremely refreshing and got us charged up for the climb that lay ahead.

Finding shade isn't easy here

Photo of Natural Wonders of the World - 1 Down 6 to Go by Offbeat Voyagers

The river rafting equipment

Photo of Natural Wonders of the World - 1 Down 6 to Go by Offbeat Voyagers

After relaxing for a while, we decided to start the climb back up at 11 AM. We knew that the journey would be hard but had not pictured in the perils that we would be faced with. The start to the climb was smooth and easy as we were charged up from all the rest at the river. As an hour of hiking passed we started getting tired and took a break to rehydrate and rest our legs. A couple of minutes later, we got back on track and started ascending towards the rim with some optimism. A few minutes into the climb we came across a few guys who suggested us to change our route as the climb was pretty steep but we decided against it which was a mistake. Another hour or so into the climb the climate started turning on us and the temperatures started rising which made it harder to climb. It was about 1:30 PM when the hike took its toll on us and we inadvertently had to stop as the heat and the steep climb would not let us go any further without some rest and hydration. After a good 15 minutes of rest we figured that we were in good shape to continue and set out to reach the top. All this while we never encountered anyone else going to the rim, the only people we came across were the ones who were headed to the campground for the night.

Breathe it all in

Photo of Natural Wonders of the World - 1 Down 6 to Go by Offbeat Voyagers

Rightly named point

Photo of Natural Wonders of the World - 1 Down 6 to Go by Offbeat Voyagers

The relation between time and distance was slowly getting inverted which was not the best thing to happen at that instance but we didn't possess the strength to do anything about it. We accepted the fact that it was going to be hard and that we had to persevere to get to the top before the end of the day. After innumerable minutes of pain we finally made it to the top at 3 PM with a sigh of relief. As soon as we got to the bus stand at the trailhead we got the bus which took 15 mins to get us back to the visitor center parking lot where we rushed to the restroom to clean ourselves up. The moment the first drop of cold water hit our face we felt alive again and gradually cooled down now that the whole episode of pain had come to an end.

Once everyone had freshened up, we headed to the car, turned the air conditioning up and hit the road but now hunger had come into the picture so we turned towards Flagstaff as we knew that we'd get decent food there. A few Google searches later we decided that we were going to go to Satchmo's to have some pork ribs after the long and tiring day that we had.

The Pork Ribs were heavenly

Photo of Satchmo's, North Fourth Street, Flagstaff, AZ, USA by Offbeat Voyagers

Now that we had refilled the car and ourselves, we finally left for our final destination, Tempe and got there by 12 AM. Now that we have conquered our first natural wonder, time to target the rest.

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