South Kaibab Going Down
It was cold and even though my stomach wasn’t cooperating very well I was determined to do this hike and hopefully to enjoy it. One out of two isn’t too bad is it?
After waiting to catch the shuttle to the South Kaibab trail head I started down at around (I didn’t look at my watch right away so I’m guessing) 6:35 AM. I was excited and started out trying to walk my usual brisk pace. It didn’t take long to realize that I was going to have to slow down. The trail wasn’t steep yet, but it was a bit rougher than I thought it would be.
That was a foreshadowing of my future as the trail would get a whole lot steeper and rougher shortly.
One of the first things I noticed was the amazing views that South Kaibab Trail gives you. Just like the literature said and the videos I had watched showed, it was breath taking. Kaibab is built mostly on ridges so you get amazing panoramic views of that canyon. Incredible!
Things went along pretty well for a while but after a couple of hours I became painfully aware that the steepness of the trail and the height of the “steps” (the pictures don’t really reflect how high most of them were) was getting to me. By the time I reached the first stopping point for the Mules I knew my legs were pretty played out. Taking mile after mile of steps that varied from a foot to two and a half feet tall was wearing me out fast.
I met a lady and her daughter who were taking some pictures and they very kindly took some shots of me. They also discussed with me their plan to take the Tonto Trail over to Bright Angel and avoiding going all the way down to the river.
That sounded smart but it really bothered me. So as I slowly made my down the trail and all those unending steps I had two things on my mind. One: I really didn’t know if I was capable of getting back out if I went all the way down as planned. Two: I felt like a loser and a quitter for taking a short cut.
That’s vintage Louie all the way folks! I kept going back and forth between the two and kept on feeling worse and worse. The only “good” thing about that was that my mind set matched the state of my leg muscles – really bad!
It was somewhere during all this, but I don’t remember when, that I caught my first glimpse of the river. It shows just how far I had to go at that point.
As things turned out I did all the worrying for nothing – because I missed the turn off to the Tonto Trail! I kept going down and seeing the river get closer and closer and guessed that I must have missed it. I was later told were it was, and I have no recollection of seeing another trial in that spot at all!
What I didn’t know was all this angst about not going all the way to the bottom was actually good, because something was waiting for me around a few more bends in the trail that would make it all worth while.
I’ll cover in my next installment of the Grand Canyon Follies!