Friday, January 22, 2016

North Kaibab Trail (In the Rain!)

(Continuing the recap of my mid-October trip to southern Utah and Northern Arizona...)

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.

Rock pillars

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.

Red rocks

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. 

Rocky path

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!

Coconino Overlook

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.


  1. Linda, I am speechless! I have just been through all your posts on the Grand Canyon and they are stunning. The sunset post was inspiring and even with the rain and the foggy mists, the Rim is still a marvel to see. Thank you so much for sharing your adventures so far. I have copied my Uncle into the link to your blog as he went to the Canyon many, many, many years ago so I am sure it will stir up some very happy memories. Have a wonderful weekend and rest those feet! xx

  2. Glad you made it safetly on this fantastic trail. loved the mist shots and the little video. Have a great weekend.

  3. I'm glad you persevered... Your captures are wonderful, giving us a true feel for the area.
    Great post!

  4. Gorgeous and majestic, Linda! I love your smile, too! Thank you so much for sharing. :)

  5. Glad to know you went for it no matter what! I hiked the South Kaibab Trail but would like to try the North at some point. I like the pillars, the colors, the staircases.

  6. Nicely documented - don't often see that part of the canyon

  7. Well, good for you, hiking even in the rain! Too bad about the views, but at least you did it.

  8. Good morning, sounds like another great adventure! I enjoyed the trail and the views, the rock pillars are neat. Wonderful photos and post. Have a happy weekend!

  9. Hi! I enjoyed your former posts too. I think you are real adventurers. I applaud yours's courage. The misty views are very nice. Thanks for sharing.

  10. What a soggy adventure! I have done some major hiking from the South Rim and find it interesting to see how much more vegetation there is at the North Rim. Of course it's due to the higher elevation but it's amazing none-the-less! You two are troopers!

  11. You are both brave souls to hike through the rain!

  12. Linda, I hope you were extra cautions walking in the rain on those slippery rocks.

  13. Good on you for making the most of your visit, raining or not!

  14. You hiked through one of the most beautiful sections! And probably the steepest part of that hike. It has its own beauty no matter the weather. This year we were in about two feet of snow at that resthouse.

  15. How frustrating for you, but you certainly came away with beautiful, if not spectacular, photos. I did love the video.

  16. You are intrepid hikers! I can hardly walk in the rain anymore (here in Florida) even though we spent most of our life in rainy western Oregon -- I never let it bother me there (good thing or I would have been stuck in the house for months)... but I have gotten used to good weather.

  17. I just read back to back posts including photos via go-pro. You've done some cool things with yours on the ski hills and here in the rain.. I'm thinking it would be fun to get one some day!
    You guys, and all the people out there, kind of amaze me, running, hiking, climbing in the rain. I love your gusto!

  18. Such a special place! And you look so happy.

  19. Even with the reduced visibility/low clouds and rain, that is one LOVELY trail! Loved your selfie with your hubby on the train:)
    Blessings, Aimee

  20. It's cool you saw the canyon in multiple weather conditions: clear panoramic views, sunny days, and now some fog. Although it's harder to stay warm, foggy and rainy days hold their own beauty and mystique.

  21. That looks like a great hike! Sometimes, less-than-perfect weather makes for great photos.

  22. such a lovely walk in the rain

  23. Even in the rain that looks like a fantastic hike and you got some gorgeous photos. But I wouldn't enjoy the sharp dropoffs on a very wet trail.

  24. Too bad it rained all day, it still looks like an awesome place! :)

  25. The mist pockets make it very atmospheric. Looks a cracker of a trail down into the canyon.

  26. Such beautiful country, even in that gray light.

  27. Just beautiful. I imagine the trail could get rather slippery with all the rain too.

  28. So glad you didn't try to go all the way down but I have to say the scenery is beautiful even in the rain. I can understand, though, that you needed to go down part of the trail after having traveled so far to the North Rim.

  29. Soggy, wet hiking is something we expect in the PNW... but not in Arizona! Glad you guys got out on the trail despite the weather; you got some gorgeous photographs.

  30. I have to admit I was glad that I was only doing the hike virtually today! Lovely photos.

  31. The rain and fog added to the beauty of the canyon! I'm sure you would have preferred sun, but seeing your photos made it appear so magical. You are fortunate to have a GoPro camera! I have been tempted to buy one for such occasions.

  32. fabulous scenery despite the rain.

  33. Great shots and good that you had your go pro along with you as it might be disastrous to have your DSLR out in the rain. Some of my most gorgeous hikes ever have been in the rain, and it is my motto never to let the weather delay what you have planned. Thanks for sharing your adventure.


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