Although I'd awoke to another rainy day at the Grand Canyon's North Rim, my hubby and I were determined to make the best of it. Despite heavy precip, we agreed to stick to our plans and hike the North Kaibab Trail down into the canyon.
|Not everyday you see trailhead signs like these|
The North Kaibab Trail is the only maintained path into the canyon from the North Rim. It's 14 miles and 6000 feet down to the Colorado River at Phantom Ranch. However, Roger and I didn't plan on traveling this entire distance. Our goal was much more modest. After Roger's knee acted up on our descent from Angels Landing, we decided to hike down only 2.5 to 3 miles, and then turn around and climb back.
|Last of the fall colors|
The rain seemed to taper off as we arrived at the trailhead. It took a bit of time for us to don raingear and decide what else to bring. Anticipating the shower's return, I wisely protected my "big girl" DSLR camera by putting inside a drybag and burying it in my backpack. At the last minute I threw my GoPro into a jacket pocket.
|Fog masked most of the views|
Finally we were ready! And so was the rain. It started up in full force the minute we stepped onto the path. Oh well, at least we wouldn't have to worry about scorching hot weather today.
|Starting down the canyon|
I was amused by a large sign at the trailhead advising hikers what to do if passed by a mule train. Not the sort of sign you'd normally see anywhere else! However, with the lodge area closed up I suspected mule tours were also done for the season.
Although the day's precip pattered on our heads, the first mile down was kind of fun. Roger and I splashed through puddles and admired the tall rock walls soaring above us. Although visibility was greatly reduced, instead we took in the nearby sights.
Boy was I glad I'd brought my GoPro! The rainfall was so heavy there was no way I was digging out my "big girl" camera. But the GoPro, with it's waterproof casing, was perfect for today's wet weather.
|Things are getting really wet|
The farther down we climbed, the more interesting the scenery, and the wetter my hubby and I became. I trailed behind Roger, merrily snapping photos as I went. After awhile I began to realize the pocket I was stowing my little camera was starting to get damp - and was causing wet smears to form across the GoPro's lens.
|Squeeze between the rock walls|
I was surprised by the number of people we saw on the trail. I didn't think anybody else would be as crazy as us to be hiking in the rain! We met a large number of backpackers, decked out in full raingear and sporting hefty pack covers, who were heading towards the canyon bottom. I'll bet they had a cold, wet evening!
|Two soggy hikers|
We even got a passed by a group of trail runners, on their way up to the North Rim. One man said they'd started from the South Rim that morning. Not only did we see them climbing up the canyon, this same group passed us again on their way down. I can't even begin to think how miserable their rim to rim to rim run must've been.
|A bit more of the canyon is visible|
At the two mile mark, we passed the Supai Tunnel and I was happy to discover not only a drinking fountain but also restrooms! And I took advantage of both.
|Muddy torrent across the trail|
Although the rain had slacked off a tiny bit, all the water had begun to concentrate. It formed muddy channels that gushed across the trail's packed dirt.
I couldn't resist capturing a video of it.
|Clearing skies on the way back up|
Thus far, my rain jacket had been performing admirably. However, I'd decided to wear my water-resistant softshell pants instead of rain pants. Although these pants had done well in prior wet hikes, today they met their match. Around the two-mile mark wetness began to seep through.
Roger was still feeling good and wanted to continue a little further. But my legs were fast becoming sopping wet and my attitude beginning to plummet. It didn't take much convincing for my hubby to agree on heading back.
|These rocks look like steps|
Although we'd only descended about 1500 feet, I wasn't looking forward to the steep climb back up. I'd always heard warnings about the tough climb up the Grand Canyon's trails. But our return trip wasn't all that bad.
|Roger points out a pillar|
Normally heat is the danger hikers face when climbing the Grand Canyon. But with today's heavy rainfall and chilly temps, overheating was not a problem. One of the few benefits of hiking in inclement weather!
|The skies begin to clear a bit|
As we began our trek back up, the rain slacked off, and visibility increased. I could see a bit farther down into the canyon, and it was spectacular. More colorful rock layers, green vegetation, and interesting rock formations. Oh how I wished for a clear day!
On our return trip, Roger and I stopped at the Coconino Overlook. Although views had been obscured by thick clouds earlier, now we could actually see a bit of the scenery. Despite the limited vistas, it was still a pretty spot.
|Low clouds fill the canyon|
From this overlook, it was a quick 3/4 mile climb to the trailhead. Although I'd enjoyed our brief canyon exploration, I was happy to be done. Time for some hot food and dry clothes (and maybe a beer!)
|We made it!|
It wasn't the best of conditions, but Roger and I were glad we'd hiked a bit of the Grand Canyon's Rim trail. Now there was one final viewpoint left to check off our list - Point Imperial. C'mon back and I'll cover that in my next post - one final tale from my North Rim adventure.