Our Hike to the Bottom of the Grand Canyon

Hiking the Grand Canyon

The Beginning

Soooooo excited! Today we’ll fulfill an item on a dear friend’s bucket list and hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon!

Carl is excited, ready to go, and confident about the trip. I am filled with excitement and a fair dose of trepidation. Seven miles of hiking lay ahead for the day. Then more hiking at the bottom the following day, followed by 10 miles of hiking (and 5000 ft of elevation) on the third day.

I have to admit, at 57 I’m wondering if I am up to the challenge. Will my legs hold out for approximately 20 miles of hiking over 3 days? What about all that down hill? Did I prepare enough? Will my knees hold up? Although Carl and I do some pretty strenuous hikes to climbing locations, we’ve never hiked for 6-7 hours straight. This was going to be a new experience for me.

How We Got Here

As I sat drinking a cup of coffee and contemplating these questions, I couldn’t help but think about how we got here…

A few weeks before I wrote our blog, 7 Ways to Make Your Bucket List a Reality, our good friends Rick and Jean asked us to join them on a 3 day trip into the Grand Canyon.

The trip was in celebration of Rick’s 70th birthday, his 72nd hike in the Grand Canyon, and his 10th trip to the bottom. We were honored that they’d ask us to go with them on this momentous trip and said “absolutely!”.

Our good friends Rick and Jean

Getting Ready

Luckily for us, Jean and Rick handled all the details for the trip. They even coached us on what to pack and what to expect (which included an awesome slide show and checklist). For those not lucky enough to have a Rick and Jean in their life, check out this guide to getting a permit to hike the Grand Canyon.

Another awesome resource (that Rick and Jean gave us) was One Best Hike – Grand Canyon by Elizabeth Wenk. It’s an easy read on everything you need to know to safely hike in the Grand Canyon, including information on the various trails.

All we needed to prepare for the trip was make sure all our hiking gear was in good shape and then hike, hike, hike.

And, hike we did. Lots and lots of uphill (and then downhill trails to “hopefully” prepare us for the 7 miles down and 10 miles up. We are lucky enough to live in an area that allows us opportunities to hike in hot and cold weather conditions as well as varying degrees of elevation and steepness. Due to this, we had a lot of opportunities to prepare for the hike (at least we hoped we were preparing enough).

We also incorporated some leg strengthening movements in our workouts. Check out this article for the movements we incorporated.

If you have a Grand Canyon rim-to-river hike on your bucket list and need ideas on how to prepare, check out this article from Gore-Tex.

After 6 months of weekend hikes, and a few trips to REI for some additional hiking gear, we were ready for the big day.

Hiking Bag for Grand Canyon

The Adventure Begins

Our adventure began on Monday, April 8th. Rick and Jean met us at a gas station near our house. From there, we started the first leg of our journey; a 5 hour drive to Flagstaff, Arizona. (On a side note, this was our first long trip with Happy ~ more on Happy in another blog).

We spent the night in Flagstaff, enjoying the mountain air and cooler temps, then set off the next day for our two hour drive to the Canyon. Upon arriving at the Grand Canyon, we checked into our rooms, dropped off our duffel bags at the mule barn, then set out for some sight-seeing.

Hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon at park sign
At the entrance to the Grand Canyon National Park

Words cannot express the beauty of the Grand Canyon. Instead, I’ll let some pictures from our first day speak for me.

View from south rim of Grand Canyon
View into the Canyon from the South Rim
View of Canyon from South Rim
Another view from the South Rim
Be and Carl at Shoshone Point Grand Canyon
The amazing view at Shoshone Point in the Grand Canyon

After some sight-seeing and short hikes around the rim of the canyon, we enjoyed a nice dinner in town, then turned in early to prepare for an early start the next day.

Part 2 – Heading into the Canyon

Part 2 of our story will cover the first day of our adventure into the Grand Canyon and contain some breath-taking photos of the canyon.