Before our trip, we knew the Grand Canyon would be kind of cool at the end of April but had never expected snow. To my surprise, when I looked out of the window the 3rd morning in Grand Canyon, it was snowing.
The temperature was 0C, strong wind, with tiny hails of snow. The forecasted snow storm we heard last night during dinner was now here. At times, snow was heavy and soon after, may die down but would suddenly come back again. This was my 2nd attempt hiking the spectacular South Kaibab Trail. I wanted to finish all the way to Skeleton Point, the day hike limit, or at least up to the summer day limit of Cedar Ridge. Last Sept, I only had a km left to go before getting to Skeleton Point but had to return because of a lack of food. (http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=355038 ) This morning, the unwelcoming snow storm gave me a hint that I might not be able to make it either this time. Especially after a long and strenuous hike yesterday in the Bright Angel trail, my will to continue what I didn’t complete last time had been diminished by the wind and snow. (http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=606722 )
Though not well prepared enough for the unexpected cold, we did have enough layering to get by the 0C, knowing the lower canyon would only get warmer the further down we hike. Not sure if the fallen snow would make the trail slippery but we decided to take the canyon shuttle bus there to at least see what the condition was at the trail head.
You just can’t resist the urge to hike down once you look at the gorgeous view of the canyon at the South Kaibab trail head. There is something magical about this place; the yellowish stones at the top, the brownish red stones in the middle, the steepness of the protruding cliffs and a challenging trail drew me here every time I think of hiking. This trail was very different from the Bright Angel side. As it seemed to be in pretty good hiking condition, we agreed to hike down for a bit, although no one knew what a bit meant at the time. As we hiked down, we started to feel a little nervous by the wind when we came to the steeper and more rugged parts along the way, some along cliffs on both sides of the trail. Some of the marble stones got a little wet and slippery because of the snow, but still our hiking boots gave us enough traction to get by. Last year when I hiked this trail, there were a lot of people hiking up and down. Now, we hardly saw anyone hiking with us.
Passed the Oh-Aah point, which I actually had missed coming down. Cedar Ridge was in fact in sight and not too far but snowing was getting heavier and the wind more annoying. Visibility was unpredictable. At one corner we could see clearly down under the canyon. Other times, we couldn’t even see too far. Wind was getting stronger, especially when we had to cross the trail section with deep cliffs on both sides. The weather condition was so unstable that I didn’t believe I could make sensible judgment on what’s going to come the next minute. Uncertain if the storm would get worse further down, and without seeing other hikers on the trail, I started to wonder if it’s the right thing to continue down. So I called off the hike and everybody agreed though some might still lean towards continuing.
Half way back to the trail head, the sun came out and got warmer. We started to see many hikers coming down now. Before I had time to regret my decision not to continue, the snow storm came back again. So I had no regrets.
The weather for the remainder of the day didn’t get better; heavy snow storm with strong winds, and then sunny, on and off again and again.
Glad that the storm gave me an excuse to come back to the Kaibab trail to finish my unfinished business.