April 25, 2021
It was pretty warm last night. I slept with no covers for most of the night and still slept really well. I spent some time doing extra prep on my feet in between sips of coffee this morning because we have a long climb out of the Canyon today. Ghosthiker was up and ready really early, so she left before me to see if she could talk to a ranger at Phantom Ranch (part of the Bright Angel camping area that has cabins and other amenities). I lingered to do some stretches and hoped to check in with the two girls from yesterday and see how they were doing, but they were still sleeping. That’s probably for the best. I hope they’re able to make it out of the Canyon okay.
When I got to Phantom Ranch I walked around for probably twenty minutes looking for Ghosthiker, but couldn’t find her anywhere. Thinking maybe she hiked on, I did as well for about a mile before I realized she had to be back at the Ranch somewhere and I just missed her, otherwise, I would have seen her or her footprints along the trail. I found her coming as I was backtracking. Turns out, she did find the park ranger who gave her the citations yesterday, and the two of them had a little chat, where the park ranger was incredibly condescending and told Ghosthiker if she had a problem submitting to authority, she could take it up with the judge at the Grand Canyon court! Needless to say, Ghosthiker is now resolved to lawyer up and fight this tooth and nail as soon as she gets home. I’m honestly pretty impressed with her determination. She’s kept a pretty cool head despite how shady this whole business has been.
The hike along the canyon river was beautiful! We got to Cottonwood Campground around 10:00am. Even after a full night’s sleep and rest from our hike yesterday, it still took us 4 hours to get there after Bright Angel, which is exactly what we were worried about yesterday. If we’d had to hike here yesterday, we wouldn’t have arrived until sometime after 10:00pm and we would have missed all this beautiful scenery!
We took a break here at a picnic table and refilled our water bottles before continuing on. We were kind of hoping to speak to the park ranger who was supposed to be patrolling Cottonwood, but no one ever showed up at the ranger station. The whole campground was deserted, actually. It was kind of weird.
The trail had started climbing well before we got to Cottonwood, and it only got steeper from there. But the sky was clear, and the sun was out, and it was a beautiful day. Just like the hike down the Kaibab Trail, some parts of the climb today were so windy and the cliffs so sheer that we felt like we might get knocked clean off the trail! At one point I stopped to pee and nearly scared the pants off a poor trail runner. Oops! Sorry!
Since we were so low in the canyon we didn’t deal with direct sunshine on our heads until fairly late in the morning, which was nice. As the day progressed, the trail kept getting steeper and we started to see more day hikers and trail runners the closer we got to the top. Then, out of nowhere, who should we run into but Oklahoma! I don’t think we’ve seen him since Superior! We thought maybe he got off the trail, but no, he’d been just ahead of us this whole time! He said he camped at Cottonwood last night and never saw a park ranger once. No one even came around to check their permits. Huh, weird. We leap-frogged with him and Bass and Cameron for the rest of the day, which was fun. We even all stopped together in a shady alcove about 4 miles from the rim of the canyon.
It was about 4:00pm when we finally got to the top of the Grand Canyon and the trailhead for North Rim Campground. The campground itself is still closed and won’t be open to tourists for another two weeks, but thru-hikers are allowed to camp on the far west side where there are lots of flat spots, bear boxes, and a few picnic tables, as well as a pit toilet not far away. The tent sites are right on the edge of the Canyon so we have a great view for the night! It’s also nice that the campground is empty, honestly. Ghosthiker, Bass, Oklahoma, Cameron, and I kind of have it to ourselves, which is awesome. But boy, is it ever cold! What a crazy change in just a single day!
I rehydrated some chili mac for dinner, but I got impatient, so the beans were a little crunchy. It’s seriously windy up here, right on the edge. I hope our tents hold up. Ghosthiker set up hers and immediately crawled in, and we didn’t see her for the rest of the night. I assumed she was needing some space and alone time, which is totally understandable. Hiking the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim has been one of the highlights of my hiking career, to be sure. I just wish it hadn’t been marred by our treatment by the park staff. I hope it was all just a misunderstanding and that it works itself out once Ghosthiker can maybe talk to someone else in charge. *sigh*
The boys and I stayed up fairly late to watch the sun setting over the Canyon, accented by lots of rolling clouds. It was really awesome. A few of us stood there huddled in our quilts to fend off the cold. It was worth it.