Hiking into the Grand Canyon

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We spent a day and a half at Grand Canyon National Park over Spring Break.  We stayed in a hotel in Tusayan, just a short drive from the GCNP entrance.  On our full day at the park, we woke up early and drove to Grand Canyon Village inside the park, where A & I caught the 7:00am shuttle to the South Kaibab trailhead.  This trail was a bit much for the little guys, but A is a pretty good hiker for an 8 year old, so despite hearing about how hard the trail was (particularly on the way back out of the canyon), we decided to hike 1.5 miles down to the Cedar Ridge, for a total 3 mile hike and a drop (and climb back up) of over 1,000 feet in elevation.

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We hiked to Cedar Ridge and back

I read about the crowds on the trails, but by leaving early, we only had a small group of people on the trail with us, and everyone quickly thinned out as we all took the trail at different speeds.

As soon as we got on the trail, we were hit with gorgeous views of the canyon.

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Start of the trail

The trail was plenty wide (we could walk side by side), but one side had a big drop-off into the canyon below.  It wasn’t dangerous, but as someone who isn’t a huge fan of heights (or at least drop-offs from heights) and with a kid, I was a bit nervous, and just insisted that A stick to the inside of the trail.

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they don’t need to tell me twice!

On the way down, A chatted away about bottle flipping, youtube videos featuring bottle flipping, and competitive games designed around bottle flipping.  Though not a topic I would to spend a lot of time thinking about, it was totally worth all I learned to enjoy the time and scenery with my boy.

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We set a pretty good pace and quickly made it down to Ooh-Aah point (.9 miles down).  Once we got there, we got a few pictures (not the best because it was still shaded – and I was too nervous to venture too far on the rock overhanging the canyon), and chatted with a few fellow hikers about their adventures.

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Ooh Aah point

We continued down, and there were a few spots that were a bit open, including one area where the path was totally open on both sides, which made me a bit nervous (would it be too much to ask him to army crawl down that section?)

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A view of  part of the trail from above – on the left is the lower trail, and on the right you can see people walking down that part of the trail

At one point, we rounded the corner to come across a 20-something German guy who had set the automatic timer on his camera and was taking pics of himself lounging on a rock in an amusing, but maybe meant to be serious, way at a scenic overlook (maybe looking for a new profile pic?).  He explained that he had a flight out that afternoon, so just quickly hiked down to this point to get a few pictures.  He was very nice and offered to take a few pictures for us.  They turned out really well, but he did push my comfort zone a bit by making us walk further out on the rock than I was totally comfortable with for the picture. Oh well, I guess all’s well that ends well, and we survived to tell the tale.

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We eventually arrived at Cedar Ridge – it took about an hour to get there.  We stopped for a snack and some water, then turned around to head back up the trail.  As you can see by the picture above, the weather was not too warm – it was pleasant in our long sleeves and pants, and we spent most of the hike down in the shade.  However, as we started hiking up, we warmed up! (at least I did).  A set a bruising pace, and I kept having to tell him to slow down (sad, but true!)

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steps heading back up from Cedar Ridge

Due to A’s rush to get to the top, we made it back up just about as quickly as we made it down, and as we neared the top, we came across an increasing number of people heading down the trail.  Some were in flip flops or with little kids, and I was thinking – yep, not the best idea.  But who knows – maybe they made it where they were headed.  However, I hope the one lady who was in an absolute panic gripping the wall at the very beginning of the path just went ahead and turned around, cause I can’t imagine her dealing with those edges (do I feel smug about someone else being even more afraid of cliff edges than me?  maybe…)

It was certainly a fantastic morning hike!  We headed back to the Grand Canyon Village area and met the rest of the family for some more exploring of the Grand Canyon. Maybe I will write about that too some day, but you will just have to wait for that (and how exciting that will be –  it does involve elk, billion year old rocks, a scenic lunch and dangerous rock squirrels!)

 

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