THE “GRAND” EXPERIENCE!

I’m going to save the story of our arrival and being turned away from Desert View Campgrounds for the next installment, which will be about some of our more unusual campground experiences.  By our second night in the Grand Canyon area we were fortunate enough to get a spot at the campground right in the Village.  (We’d learned the trick at Zion.  Get there early, early in the morning and you’re likely to get one just as it’s being vacated.)

Our first day was spent, of course, viewing the Canyon from the lookouts, checking in with the Backcountry Office to be sure that everything was OK and getting our food and equipment packed for the early departure the next morning.  We had to drive to the Backcountry parking lot and catch the 5:00 a.m. bus to the Kaibab Trailhead the next morning.

Click on thumbnails for larger pictures.

Our departure was frigid.  Dressed for a hot hike, we weren’t as prepared as we could be for the overcast skies and cold winds the next morning.  But once half an hour down into the canyon and things changed.  Our hike down was spectacular and otherwise uneventful (compared to our trip up) and took about five hours.  I swear the ruts and steps made by the mules have gotten deeper every year, but generally it was a pleasant hike.

Once at the bottom we settled into our group campsite.  The temperature didn’t disappoint, going up to about 120 degrees.  The boys spent a lot of time in the creek, damning it up with stones to make it deeper.  We hadn’t brought any tents, so boys slept on picnic tables or on the ground, braving the scorpions.  Some had a better night’s sleep than others.

On our second day at the bottom we took a short side hike to Phantom Creek, were we found a great little waterfall.

Late that afternoon we had to begin our hike to the second night campsite at Indian Gardens.  We waited as long as possible to avoid the heat of the day, but ended up doing the last half an hour of the hike with headlamps and having to locate our campsite in the dark.  Not a big problem, even though someone else had crashed in our site.  It was quite big, so we just let him stay.  We were mostly sleeping on the picnic tables anyways, not having any tents.  Except for Richard, who was braving the ground again in shorts and a t-shirt.  Unfortunately he got his wish to see a scorpion when one stung him in the middle of the night.  He darted up off the ground and Greg put a bit of salve on it.  It stung and was numb, but otherwise he was in OK shape.   I didn’t interfere with his ability to hike the next morning, although nobody got much sleep afterwards.

The last leg of the hike was quite a challenge for me, but we all got up and headed to a well deserved meal at the top.  Soon we were on our way to showers, clean clothes and a few slow days at a nice KOA campsite in Flagstaff.

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