A Rotten Egg in the Grand Canyon (North Rim)

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We recently spent 10 days adventuring on a houseboat on Lake Powell and road tripping through Southern Utah/Northern Arizona – two of my favorite places in the world. The goal of this trip was to experience something new on a daily basis. One such experience was hiking the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. I have been intending to backpack this area for years – just haven’t gotten to it yet.

It was STUNNING. Lots of red rock walls, colorful trees, switchbacks, cliffs, etc.

Instead of getting fancy and 4-wheeling to a remote trail, we kept things simple and hiked about 3.5 miles on the North Kaibab trail to the first bridge over Roaring Springs Canyon (minus the roaring springs).

It’s roughly 14 miles to the bottom if that gives perspective on the depth from the North Rim. The topography is completely different then the South Rim as well. In fact, here are some of the key differences between the North and South Rim:

  1. Fewer crowds at the North Rim (NR) – it’s a little harder to get to, but not by much. You can fly into Vegas or Salt Lake City and explore all kinds of cool stuff in between.
  2. Higher elevation by about 1,000 feet at the NR, so it’s about 10 degrees cooler – this also means the season to visit is shorter – It’s only open from mid-May through mid-October due to heavy snowfall during the winter months.
  3. Because temperatures are cooler, there are leafy trees like aspen, birch, maple and oak – this means the fall colors are spectacular – the second or third weeks of September are supposedly prime for leaf peeping.
  4. Views of the river from the NR are scarce. Apparently you can sneak a peek through Angel’s Window – though I am not exactly sure of the location of said window.
  5. There are fewer viewpoints at the NR – 3 instead of 24. The views on the NR are more about the width of the canyon rather than the depth.
  6. Lodging is not as plentiful at the NR, however, this was not an issue for us as we stayed in Kanab which is about 1.5 hours away.

#2 above was not obvious – though I am sure it was the time of day we were descending into the canyon. It was not before dawn or after 3:00, like the park service recommends.

It was HOT, dusty and HARD. Not to mention we got to experience periodic whiffs of donkey poo. (Side note: I don’t think I have the balls to ride a donkey down that canyon.)

We would have loved to have gone further down, but from previous experience, the hikes back up can be brutal for reasons mentioned above.

“Getting to the bottom – Optional; Getting to the top – Mandatory”Grand Canyon warning signs

As we were turning around at the bridge, we met 2, 20-somethings who had hiked an additional 1.5 miles further than us. They were super cool – decked out with dreadlocks and pierced noses. We played leap frog with them all the way up – every time sharing an expletive of sorts. At one point, one of them said, “Last one out is a rotten egg!” Challenge accepted – no way in hell was I going to be the rotten egg….

All I can say is, my competitive spirit kicked in and at the very end of the hike, I slow jogged up to the top. Sean thought I lost my mind – I thought I was going to cough up a lung and was grateful my heart didn’t stop beating along the way.

The ‘kids’ arrived about 3 minutes later – needless to say, we all got a good laugh out of it!

One day, I will go back and hike Rim to Rim (North to South) – 21 miles – this seems doable. Not sure I could do the Rim to Rim to Rim to Rim tour of 42 miles in a day. This just seems like pure torture, though there were plenty of folks tackling that challenge!

“If youโ€™re going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill

Enough chatter, here are some of the highlights of the hike and one of the most beautiful places on earth!

…i choose this…

Pam

61 comments

  1. It’s so pretty. Before we were married, Susan and I did a hike down to a waterfall. I don’t remember how far it was but it felt like a very big deal at the time. Coming out was absurd. 120 degrees. There were bees everywhere.

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  2. I remember someone telling me a long time ago that if I wanted to see โ€œMaineโ€ in the west, to go to the North Rim in the fall.

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful hiking adventure. Iโ€™ve always wanted to go to the North Rim and youโ€™ve definitely whetted my appetite. Great photos, too!

    Susan Grace

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I had not heard that, but the correlation is probably spot on! I am sure the colors were even better a week or so prior, everything was starting to wind down when we were there – sure was an unexpected beauty though. You are not far from there, you should make the trip some day!

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  3. I was 18 when I hiked down the million miles to the bottom of the Grand Canyon with a backpack and then some days later hiked back up. It damn near killed me both ways due to foot problems and heat.At this point in my life Iโ€™d be one of those people to you to see it on the back of a pooping mule!

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  4. Beautiful photos and a great story! ๐Ÿ˜ We recently ran into a couple who were planning the rim to rim hike. Not us! But we are planning a one night stop at the south rim, on our way to bust our buns in the Utah parks next year. That trip we had to reschedule due to COVID. I had a great grandpa who used to work at the camp at the bottom of the canyon, like 100 years ago. I’d love to see the bottom, just don’t have it in me to make it down there and back out again!

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    1. Oh wow about your great grandpa…that is amazing….how lucky was he??? You could look at the donkeys – I am not super comfortable on horses – assuming it would be the same on donkeys, though I hear they are more sure-footed. I did a backpacking trip on the South Rim and camped along river – it was gorgeous…also did a motorized raft trip through the canyon. you may like that option! I was amazing.

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      1. I think my mom did the donkey ride years ago… nope, don’t see that happening for me! It seems she felt like she was going over the edge, I need to ask her about that again. I think I have an old photo of my great grandpa, I need to find that and work that into a blog post in the future, It is kind of cool! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  5. My 29029 crowd is always yakking about R2R and R2R2R, so of course it’s now on my radar! The whole place needs a revisit from us; we were there with young kids and couldn’t do much of a long hike at all back then. Your photos of the leaves and trails are stunning and envy-inducing! Your whole trip looked amazing.

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  6. I always love the Canyon, Pam and have backpacked in several times, including once form the North Rim. Great photos. Aren’t they fun to take? And I laughed at your race back to the top. I’ve done that a few times. Also way back when, I took the mules in. That was so long ago it was before I had started backpacking. ๐Ÿ™‚ With you. I am no fan of mule poop and pee, so I tend to go down trails they don’t take! Fun post. Thanks. โ€“Curt

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    1. They are soo fun to take! I used to run a lot of marathons and whenever I got within 100 yards of the finish line, I’d start ‘picking’ off people and passing them up. It was so satisfying. lol. Was the mule ride terrifying??

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      1. I confess I do take pleasure in passing up people half my age out on the trail. Grin. It really irritates them.
        As for mules, you mainly have to remember that they have no desire of going off the edge and have a really good track record when it comes to avoiding a thousand foot fall. ๐Ÿ™‚ โ€“Curt

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  7. Not surprisingly, your photos are spectacular.

    I know I like to banter about the expression โ€˜magical experienceโ€™ but the Grand Canyon really was one of them for me and I hope someday I get a chance to return.

    As tempting as it is to keep going down, knowing the climb back up still awaits was enough for me to turn around after a short distance. Like you, there was no way in hell I would consider a donkey ride!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Lady! Every time I use the word magical, I do call myself a cheeseball, but sometimes I cant help it. I agree, the GC is a magical place. Every experience I have had there has been pretty amazing. If I can fit in a Rim to Rim hike next year, I will. Lots of things planned already, so we will see where things fall.

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      1. We’re back into quasi-lockdown as our daily case numbers are much too high. I’m reluctant to make any plans further than a few days ahead. It was too emotional the first time.

        Let’s hope that at least some level of normalcy will return in 2021, but for now, 2020 remains in the weird zone.

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  8. Beautiful photos. I cannot believe how pristine the canyon looks. I’ve only been there once at one of the visitor centers with about a hundred people around. It was not a spiritual experience, I can tell you that. But your experience seems divine.

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    1. The North Rim is so much more laid back! The South Rim does get nutty if that is where you were. There were plenty of people on the trail, but all with good vibes. The further you can get away from people – something like 2 miles – the herds start to thin out and the experience changes.

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  9. Enjoyed the story every bit as much as the beautiful images Pam! What a terrific hike! I remember those donkeys scared the crap out of me on those very narrow hiking trails and remember thinking no way in heck I’d get on one of them to make that rip! LOL about your competitors on the hike and your victory in the “race”!

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  10. Gorgeous photos! I love the north rim, much more than south rim for many of the same reasons you mentioned. I didn’t hike down from this side when I was there though, so it was cool to see those perspectives of the canyon.

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