God’s creation of natural wonders are truly amazing. Before this trip, the most memorable trips I have ever made was walking on the ocean floor after a few billion tones of seawater flow in and out of the Bay of Fundy during the tide cycle, taking a boat heading towards the fall to feel the downpouring of the vast amount of water from Niagara Falls, viewing of many different colours of Yellowstone hot springs and thermal pools, walking on the glacier path in BC and enjoying the unbelievable beauty of Lake Louise in Banff. The Grand Canyon is definitely unique and one of the most spectacular natural wonders that has been added to my most memorable places.
Arrived at Phoenix at 99C, drove a rental car up north and stayed overnight at the Fairfield Inn, Flagstaff. Morning at 6am in Flagstaff was a little cool. Took an hour and a half drive west on Hwy 40 turning north on Hwy 64 all the way to the South Entrance of the Grand Canyon National Park. Inside the village, took the shuttle bus straight to the trail head of the South Kaibab Trail, which was the first glimpse of the spectacular view of the Canyon. Its overwhelming size of the canyon and the colourful terra cotta landscape of ancient rocks were exposed right in front of our eyes.
It was sunny but with a hint of cool air at 10am at the trail head up at the rim. The entire trail is a dirt trail, steep downhill, with very little shade from plants, except from the walls of the canyon that shaded out the sun in the morning in some areas. The trail are not quite marked but well maintained. Lots of hikers and youths coming from many different countries were hiking on the trail. Almost every turn of the trail offered a spectacular view. At 1.5km, we reached the Ooh-Aah Point that offers a very wide view of the canyon. Ooh-Aah is the sound of 'Oh ah!', representing the surprise and beauty of the lookout. Ooh-Aah is a good place to stop and take pictures. Temperature was getting hotter as we went further down. At 2.5 km, we reached Cedar Ridge sign where the washroom was. This point is the summer day hike limit and day hikers are encourage to head back in the summer time. After a quick rest, most of the hikers returned but we went further down and the trail is getting steeper, and thus weren’t as many hikers as the first half of the trail. Temperature was getting hotter and hotter and we now see more cacti along the trail. At 3.8km, we have already spent 2 hrs on the trail and even though there was enough water, we didn’t bring any food. We haven’t eaten anything since breakfast at 7am and we figured we would spend at least the same time going back uphill to the trail head. So it was about time to return. At the turning point, we were actually just 1km away from the Skeleton Point, which is the day hike limit where we could have gotten a first view of the Colorado River.
Heading back uphill the steep section to Cedar Ridge was indeed a challenge unless you are fit in cardio. The heat, the direct sunlight without any shade and the ability to walk up a very steep uphill are the factors to determine if you can get back to the trail head comfortably. We eventually arrived back at the trail head at 3:30pm. Total distance hiked: 7.9km. It was almost 4pm when we finally had a chance to sit down for a relaxing lunch in the cafeteria of the Canyon. We ordered a chilli bowl and a chicken pot pie. Our stomach told us that they were the best chilli and chicken pie we’ve ever tasted.
Hiking the South Kaibab Trail is a must for everyone visiting the State of Arizona. The walking on the trail let us feel the different kinds of terrain, stone patterns, rocks, plants, and temperatures within a very short distance.
I am hoping to plan a trip back to the South Kaibab Trail and hike all the way to the bottom of the Colorado River and spend a night there before climbing back up on the Bright Angel Trail.