Thursday, May 21, 2009

Grand Canyon / Kanab to Zion to La Verkin

Last weekend I hiked the Grand Canyon with John Anderson, Jim Farrer and Mike Farrer. We arrived at the South Rim on Friday evening and camped in our tents that night in one of the park's campgrounds. The weather was perfect the next morning as we started down the South Kaibab Trail. This trail is the most direct route to the bottom of the canyon with some beautiful open views of the canyon. You drop from an elevation of 7,200 ft. at the rim to 2,420 ft. at the Colorado River and cover 6.9 miles. We hiked accross the Colorado (check out how green the water was) and a bit further to Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the canyon where we stopped and ate lunch and rested up for the climb back out.

The hike out of the canyon on the Bright Angel Trail was the tougher part of the hike due to the heat of the afternoon and the longer distance of 9.8 miles. The temp. was above 100 degrees and the switchbacks were endless. I ended up drinking about 7 liters of water just on this leg of the hike. We kept cool by dipping our heads in the stream that ran along the trail. I was grateful for my 3L camelback since I drank it dry prior to the Indian Springs water hole. I saw several people walking up the trail with nothing more than 1 or two small water bottles (insane). I also was thanking Jim for letting me use his sweet river running hat that kept me cool and kept the sun off my face. I highly recommend such a hat or something similar for anyone doing this hike.

I ended up finishing the hike around 4PM, which made for a long day of hiking!!
After finishing the hike, we enjoyed some much needed "real food" (as opposed to gels, shot blocks and power bars) and drove back to Kanab, where I was dropped off before the rest of the guys continued back to Utah County. The original plan was for me to ride that evening from Kanab through Zion and then my wife would pick me up on the other side of Zion. Since the hike ended up taking longer than expected, we didn't arrive in Kanab until 10:30 PM, so I decided to find a bed to sleep in with the plan to ride through Zion early the next morning. I was a bit nervous that I might not find a room after driving to 4 or 5 motels before I found a vacancy. I stayed at the Four Seasons in a cheap little room, but I didn't care as all I needed was a bed to lay my aching body on.

The next morning, I was on my bike by 6 AM heading towards Zion on HWY 89. Initially, I was wishing I were with my family and still sleeeping as I hammered my way up the climb out of Kanab. I had a backback with my clothes and shoes from the previous day along with a handful of other supplies, so the climbing was more difficult with the added 10-15 lbs. After about 10 miles or so, I descended to the Carmel junction on a 6% grade, so that made the ride alot of fun. I had a bit more climbing before I reached Zion, but then it was all down hill again. It was an incredible ride through Zion, I highly recommend it. Unfortunately, they won't let you ride a bike through the long tunnel, so I had to hitch a ride with someone with a truck. This nice couple picked me up and took me through after I waited for about 20 minutes. Once out the other side of the tunnel, I rode down through the park and then continued west all the way to La Verkin. It ended up being about 61 miles. By the time I reached La Verkin, I was feeling fairly beat, not particularly tired from the 61 mile ride, but from the combination of the long hike the previous day and the ride.

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