Perhaps what I was most looking forward to on this road trip was visiting more of the National Parks out west. A resident of Utah for four years, I saw plenty of parks on the west coast but somehow missed out on the Grand Canyon and the parks in southern Utah. So, it was time to remedy that. About 20 miles outside of the park, we saw the dark clouds rolling in. This can’t be happening. We’ve already had our fair share of camping in the rain, and I really didn’t want to be hiking through mud.
We approached the gate and were greeted by a park ranger that was a bit of an oddball. He warned us to stay away from the rim in this weather, as lightning kills people standing along the rim nearly every year- and this year the park had already seen one death. We quickly set up our tent before the rain moved in and then drove along the rim and stopped at the main Visitors Center. It was definitely the calm before the storm. Soon after, it started hailing. Yes, hailing!
My first view of the Grand Canyon rendered me nearly speechless. The closest I had come to seeing such a dramatic canyon was probably visiting Waimea Canyon on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. It was just stunning. We watched the video in the Visitors Center, and then spent a long, rainy, and cold evening in our tent, praying for the weather to clear the following morning.
The alarm woke us up bright and early….well okay not bright out at all actually… at 4:45am. We debated whether or not to hike Grand Canyon’s most popular trail, Bright Angel Trail, or take the South Kaibab Trail. Bright Angel is appealing because it has water available on the trail. Since we weren’t battling the heat, we took our own water and decided on South Kaibab. The trail opens up sooner to a larger vista of the canyon, but essentially the two trails are quite comparable. In order to access the trail, one must take a shuttle bus from the Visitors Center. We set out on our hike at 6:15am to catch part of the sunrise. Again, another beautiful sight in the canyon, and it was nice that the trail was so quiet with only a handful of other people.
I loved our hike on the South Kaibab Trail and it was pretty quiet. The trail got busier as we were almost out of the canyon. And we weren’t but about 15 minutes done hiking when the rain started falling again. And it poured all afternoon. We managed to catch a cloudy sunset before heading back to camp. We got up early again the next morning for one last sunrise in the Grand Canyon from Lipan Point. Isn’t this place just beautiful?