Grand Canyon N.P. Backpacking Trek 1985


Tuesday, July 16
After going to bed at 2:30 a.m. this morning, we enjoyed sleeping in until 10:30 a.m. The guys cooked a great breakfast of eggs and sausage. We leisurely got ready and then journeyed to our first view of the canyon - Mather Point. It was certainly breathtaking. We spent the day as tourists - visiting the various stores, taking the West Rim shuttle and enjoying different views of the canyon. One highlight was our trip to the IMAX theater - a six story high screen, giving us mouthwatering glimpses of the Grand Canyon. After seeing the film, we had a lunch of meat sandwiches, chips, and cookies. Our day seemed to draw to a close rather quickly as the sun turned in for the day. We did get the opportunity to select matching Grand Canyon T-shirts. We returned to Ten-X campground about 1:00 a.m. where we had a late dinner of spaghetti. We all were exhausted and turned in at 3:30 a.m. We were able to set up our tents earlier today - it's amazing how daylight can help.

Wednesday, July 17
We overslept by ten minutes, but our fearless leader woke up and got us in action. We quickly dressed and ate cold cereal and then left, heading for Page Arizona and a day of rafting. We arrived in Page about 11:30 a.m., checked in and paid for our trip and then waited until noon for our bus ride to Glen Canyon Dam. We arrived at the massive dam and boarded the raft to float downstream. We floated down the smooth water, soaking up the warm sun and taking in a different perspective of the canyon walls. Our first stop was to view a few Indian Petroglyphs carved on a wall of the canyon. We then continued on downstream. Our next stop was lunch. Our river guides laid out a nice table of lunch meat and all the trimmings and all thirty of us feasted on the cold cuts. Our Scouts took a dip in the 44 degree water while waiting on lunch to be spread out. After eating the guys challenged each other to see who could go out the farthest in the water. John Walsh won the deal - one dollar paid by the Scoutmaster. We went on with our trip and soon stopped at a nice beach for everyone to have a chance to get their feet wet - or more if they dared. After leaving the beach we ran into some cold rain which subsided by the time we got to Lee's Ferry at 6:30 p m. From here we boarded the bus and took an hour long ride back to Page. We stopped for milk, film, and gas, and then started our return trip to the South Rim. We arrived at camp rather late; but we fixed chopped sirloin and packed our packs for the big day.

Up to this point the journal has given all clock times in Eastern Standard time. However, times reported for the following trail journal are given in Mountain Standard time to emphasize the "way it was." The difference in the time zones is three hours.

Thursday, July 18
Morning came early after only four hours of sleep. Even so, we began the trail later than planned. After eating, last minute packing, and parking the van at the trailhead, we began the South Kaibab Trail at 6:39 a.m. The South Kaibab Trail is a series of several steep descending switchbacks which takes us through varying colors of rock and sand - from gray to red to white. The 7.1 mile trek will eventually take us down in elevation one mile. As we started the trail the temperature was tolerable and the guys did well at conquering our quest. We met a few mule trains on their way up. At 7:s6 a.m. we reached the one and one half mile point where we made a stop for water and use of the pit. We continue our hike as the temperature rose some. From this trail we also viewed the only natural arch visible from a maintained trail. Lizards were a common sight as they scurried to get away from their large trespassers. We made several stops for water and treating blisters when necessary. One of our stops included a trip down the steep hillside for our Scoutmaster to rescue a dirt-ridden cowboy hat. It was reassuring to see the Colorado River and then cross over it on the Kaibab Suspension Bridge. We arrived at Bright Angel campground at 11:00 a.m. and we were all ready for some R and R. We soaked our feet in the Bright Angel Creek and fixed our first meal of assorted backpacking food. As the day slipped away we took in some of the sights at the bottom including the snack bar at Phantom Ranch. Many of us phoned home to tell them of our first day's voyage. As we got ready for bed, several deer meandered through our campsite looking for a free meal and finding one in Kevin Gunn's low-hung pack. We turned in early looking ahead to a big day tomorrow.

Friday, July 19
We tried to catch up on our sleep a little and left Bright Angel Campground at 7:10 a.m. We headed north, walking with the creek in the Bright Angel Canyon on the North Kaibab Trail. We crossed four bridges as we went through an area called The Box - high canyon walls on either side of us. We stopped for lunch near Ribbon Falls. Some Scouts put in the additional mileage to see the falls. This trail was a gentle climb up the canyon as we reached Cottonwood Campground (elevation 4000). We finished the 6.9 miles at 12:45 p.m. After a short rest and something to eat, Terry and the Scouts put in two and one half hours of service work for the ranger. We spent time putting rocks around the perimeter of our own group campsite, Òbrushing over" or closing a now unused trail, and raking out the drainage ditch that ran through the camp to keep the Cottonwoods well-watered. As we finished our duties, the clouds appeared and brought with them an afternoon of showers. As we took shelter under the ranger's porch, John snoozed away back at camp. The skies eventually cleared, we ate dinner, and turned in for a good dry night's sleep.

Saturday, July 20
We left Cottonwood at 6:09 a.m. to continue the long trek to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. This time we split into two groups so that some of us could go at a slower pace and not hold the others up. The trail began as a gradual incline until we soon crossed a bridge and were in sight of the infamous lemonade stand. Unfortunately, we were too early for a cool drink so we took a quick stop and continued on up the trail. Here, the trail got much steeper and more difficult. We encountered numerous switchbacks and what seemed an unending number of uphill climbs. After climbing 1000 feet in elevation, we passed Roaring Springs which is the vast water source which supplies water to both the north and south rims. Not far after this we passed a sign that said we were yet three miles from the North Rim. We were certain we had come much further. The trail then descended a little to cross a bridge and then take us up two more sets of switchbacks to reach the Supai Tunnel. Here we took another rest as the mules do at the same spot on the half day mule trip. We soon continued on and when we were about one mile from the top the rain began coming down pretty hard. The good thing was that the rain kept the temperature down. Besides that, we were a wet, ugly mess and the trail was even worse. The last of our group reached the top at 12:30 p.m. after 6.9 miles of very difficult climbing. Our elevation at this point is now 8200 feet. Soon after we reached the top, the rain subsided and we walked to the shower and laundry building. We were all thrilled to finally shower and get our clothes clean again. The rain had started up again so we hung around the building until it again cleared and we could go set up camp. Each person first spent their ten dollar allowance at the camp store which was to feed them until we began our trek back into the Canyon. We set up camp and then took the mile rim walk to Grand Canyon Lodge. Some of us were looking frantically for a greasy hamburger, somewhat unsuccessfully. Several of us ended up back at the campground pub for a microwave burger. After a few video games we all turned in for the night.

Sunday, July 21
We slept in as long as we could and got up at 7:00 a.m. At 7:30 a.m. the shuttle picked all of us up except John and took us to the North Kaibab Trailhead and began the planned half day mule ride. They sized us up and gave us the appropriate mule and we left about 8:00 a.m. heading for the Supai Tunnel . It was a fun trip and a great break from our normal way of traveling. We got to the tunnel and stayed 30 minutes to view the Canyon and let the mules rest. We all posed for Terry as she took our pictures upon our mule. We got back to the top and took the crowded shuttle back to the campground. Everyone ate and then chose their favorite spot on the picnic tables for an afternoon nap. We woke up at various times and the rest of the day we spent as each person chose - walking around the North Rim, eating, taking pictures, going to church, playing video games, or just vegetating around camp.

Monday, July 22
We got up early, folded camp, and the first group left the North Rim Campground at 5:30 a.m. We hiked to the North Kaibab trailhead and began the trail at 5:50 a.m. The trail was a strenuous downhill trek. With frequent stops and intermittent pauses for trash pickup, the first group arrived at the bridge (which crosses the Roaring Springs fault) and waited for over an hour until the second group was in sight. We continued on and made a long relaxing stop at the now open lemonade stand. We enjoyed quizzing the three young boys who were running the stand. It turns out that the home is leased by the NPS to a ranger who works at the Roaring Springs water treatment plant. At present, 11 people live in the modern seven year old home. The children get their schooling from their mother and they receive groceries via helicopter. We enjoyed our chat and then moved on to finish the 6.9 miles. We arrived at Cottonwood Campground at 10:55 p.m. After a short rest and and then delicious dehydrated meal, we all worked one and one fourth hours for the ranger digging trenches and picking up trash. The hard work made the guys ready for some cool refreshment so they took a cold dip in the creek. After swimming and wading a bit we ate and turned in at our assigned 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday, July 23
When John's alarm went off at 2:30 a.m. it sure seemed early but we knew we had a long day of hiking ahead of us and we needed an early start. We broke camp and left by 4:00 a.m. heading again for the river. We got to Phantom Ranch at 7:15 a.m. and waited until 8:00 a.m. for the snack bar to open so we could mail some letters and pig out on chocolate. By 8:39 a.m. we were on the trail again. This time crossing the Silver Bridge, we headed up the Bright Angel Trail for what seemed to be home - the South Rim! The trail was difficult, and with no rain to cool us, very exhausting. After topping Devil's Corkscrew, a mean set of switchbacks, we entered a more vegetated area and then finally reached our goal for today - Indian Gardens Campground. After hiking 11.9 miles, we arrived at 11:30 a.m. to an overpopulated campground due to the traffic of mule riders. We relax in the shade on a cement slab porch of a storage shed for a couple of hours. Then we claimed a newly vacated campsite, set up camp, ate and turned in at an early 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday, July 24
John's alarm woke us at an early 2:30 a.m. to begin our last day of the voyage. We ate and packed up, leaving Indian Gardens at 4:10 a.m. We started with our dimly lit flashlights and proceeded up the trail to our now near goal. We were encouraged by seeing the lights of the South Rim. By 8:00 a.m. our flashlights were put away and we were approaching Jacob's Ladder, the worst switchbacks of the trip. We soon split into two groups, so that John and Terry could proceed at a leisurely pace while the Scouts raced against the clock. The trail was strenuous but our our ongoing encouragement was that we were at the end and just minutes from conquering what we had set out to do - the rim to rim to rim trail. We finished our 4.6 miles for today, totaling 44.3 miles of canyon hiking. By 7:30 a.m. we were all to the top and activity at the rim was at a minimum. The guys all relaxed along the rim by the Bright Angel Lodge while Terry took a taxi to Yaki Point to retrieve the van and the U-Haul. She returned to the lodge after finding the van and U-Haul in A-1 condition. We made a quick dash to the shower and laundry building. We spent over two hours washing our clothes and bodies and then headed for Ten-X Campground to set up camp and eat a civilized meal of hamburgers. We topped the meal off with a cake and song for Steve Carey's 17th birthday. We ate and set up camp quickly and then headed back to Grand Canyon Village for an evening of shopping. John and Terry treated the guys to ice cream for their accomplishment and then everyone enjoyed browsing in the shops at a relaxed pace. We ended the evening very appropriately by taking one last view of the beautiful Grand Canyon from Mather Point. We journeyed back to camp to enjoy a super meal of steak and baked potatoes prepared on charcoal. After an easy cleanup, everyone went to bed without reluctance.

Now that our excursion has ended, this journal shall make all time references in Eastern Standard time.

Thursday, July 25
Everyone enjoyed a good night's sleep getting up at a late 11:00 a.m. We ate a leisure breakfast of French toast, sausage, and bacon, broke camp and left Ten-X Campground at 1:39 p.m. We made a stop at Babbitt's for a few last minute souvenirs and then proceed with the Eastern Rim drive, stopping at Desert View Watchtower. We left the park and spent the next couple of hours shopping at the roadside stands on the Navajo Indian Reservation. We all enjoyed a refreshing sno-cone sold by a vender along the road. We traveled heading northeast for Arches National Park. We stopped along the road for peanut butter sandwiches and then continued on North for Utah. We got to Moab about 12:05 a.m., made a quick stop for groceries and went on to Arches. We got to the park at about 12:30 a.m., drove to the campground, and found our campsite. The campsite was very different with sand and desert plant life galore. We heated up a great tasting meal of chili and soon thereafter the guys made themselves beds around the picnic tables. John and Terry worked for some time on the expense account and then dozed off in the van.

Friday, July 26
We caught up on a little sleep and got up at 10:15 a.m. We had cold cereal for breakfast, folded camp, and left about 12:30 p.m. to see the sights of Arches National Park. Our first stop included a two mile, round trip walk to Landscape Arch. This arch is the longest known natural arch in the world with a span of 291 feet. From here we continued backwards on the auto tour taking in such sights as Skyline Arch, Double Arch, The Windows, Balanced Rock, and other facets of the barren land. Some of the Scouts and John, tackled the strenuous three mile hike to and from Delicate Arch. We completed the tour by 5:30 p.m. and made a change in plans to head north for I-70. We stopped for gas and just prior to crossing the Utah-Colorado border made a stop for hot dogs and leftover chili. John decided to get as much driving in as we could so we again were on the road heading east. We crossed into Colorado and absorbed the color and beauty of this new midwestern state. Making stops only for gas, John and Terry drove until we crossed the Colorada-Kansas border while the guys slept. We crossed into Kansas and stopped at the first rest area at about 5:00 a.m. We slept here due to lack of campgrounds in the area.

Saturday, July 27
We got up, ate breakfast and left the rest area at 11:15 a.m. went well as we knocked off Kansas sooner than expected. We stopped at a rest area about 2:30 p.m. for our last meal of sandwiches. The guys played games and slept off and on until we stopped in Columbia, Missouri at about 10:00 p.m. Here we feasted on four large pizzas and three pictures of Pepsi at a Pizza Hut. We journeyed on thinking we would stop at a campground within the next hour. We looked, but to no avail, for a good spot for the night. Our unsuccessful search brought us closer and closer to our sights of Ohio so we switched drivers and decided to drive all the way through. The guys caught a little shut eye and we traveled through the night and break of day. We were reassured to cross Ohio's border and much relieved to enter Englewood at 8:30 a.m., Sunday, July 28th. We filled up the van with gas and our stomachs with McDonald's before going to John and Terry's. We all worked hard to unload, wash the van, write thank-you letters, and wash ourselves. Parents were glad to see us and welcomed us back about 11:30 a.m. when our long successful journey came to a close.


Special thanks to Scoutmaster John Combs for writting this.

Last revised: April 4, 1999


Return to High Adventure Trips.

Return to Troop 325.