Friday, February 18, 2011

More Trip Photos

After a few days in the 40s, winter is returning to Grand Marais. The wind is switching to come off the lake -- in a big way. There is sustained wind speeds in the 20s, but gusts in the 50s or more are expected. The lake effect machine is also going to start up again. That is probably good since we could use some more snow for the UP 200 Dog Sled Race that starts tonight.

The review of the Grand Canyon hike photos continues. I'll include some Grand Marais photos tomorrow, as well as after the dog sled race.

Everyone was a little apprehensive on the morning that the hike down started, especially the two rookies. Phantom Phyl had never hiked the Kaibab Trail, so she was also excited about the new experience. We woke up early, finalized our backpacks, ate breakfast, checked out of the room, and caught the free express shuttle bus over to the South Kaibab Trail head at 8:00 a.m. Here are a couple of maps of our route. The east-most red highlighted trail was our route down. To Phantom Ranch the trail is around 7.4 miles with nearly 5,000 elevation change.

Here we are at the top, along with the view of what we were hiking into.

One thing about the South Kaibab Trail is that it immediately propels you down into the canyon with a long series of steep switchbacks. I have heard it said that every step down represents around 10,000 years of geologic time.

Thankfully we had no injuries during the hike, but the same cannot be said for Phylster's hiking pole. A mile into the descent she was adjusting the length of the pole, and the middle insert broke off. I cannot imagine what it would be like to hike the canyon without TWO poles. Even the younger generation uses poles. My experience in the canyon has taught me to always be prepared. I've taken duct tape in the past, but now I always bring black electrical tape. This tape is more waterproof and its stretchiness also helps in making repairs. We collected four twigs and splinted the pole. The repair worked as Phyl was able to use both poles for the next 20 miles.

We continued hiking and had our first rest stop at Cedar Ridge, which is located 1 1/2 miles from the top. Notice in the second photo below that O'Neil butte is still at a lower elevation. You can compare the next stage of progress by your proximity to this geologic formation.

In the Cedar Ridge area, you are out into the canyon enough to start to get a glimpse of the Tonto Plateau east of the South Kaibab Trail.

After Cedar Ridge, you hike straight toward and along the O'Neil butte. The sun felt so good that we decided to stop and take a rest before the butte. Notice in the photo below that we are now hiking below the top of the butte. The driver of the bus that morning had told us that if we had a chance, we should raise our feet above our hearts to help drain some of the lactic acid. Helen remembered first, followed by Wendy. Then Phylster and I had to do the same.

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