1st - 4th Nov 2009
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This was third international trek under the banner of Bhramanti, organized in small scale depending upon time availability of interested people.
The participants were Rajat (Leader), Abhishek (Deputy), Puneet, Tanuja & me.
North Kaibab Trail
The North Kaibab Trail is a diverse trail offering plenty of variety for those who want to backpack or day hike.
The entire North Kaibab Trail distance, (one way) rim to river is 14.2 miles. Due to the extreme elevation changes this would not be done as a day hike. The North Kaibab trail head shares the same parking area as the Ken Patrick and Uncle Jim trails. The trail head is 2 miles north of the visitor center. It then descends beneath the rim, through the forest, for the first 5 miles, leading towards Roaring Springs. Roaring Springs is a waterfall created by water pouring from a muav cave into Bright Angel Creek. This creek is one of the Grand Canyon's largest tributaries and a home for beavers. Never plan to hike past Roaring Springs in one day.
The following are points along the trail that can serve as a trail destination.
Coconino Overlook .75 mile one way
Supai Tunnel 2 miles one way
Redwall Bridge 3 miles one way
Roaring Springs fork 4.7 miles
Roaring Springs 5 miles
Rim - 8,241 feet
Roaring Springs - 4,800 feet
Cottonwood Camp - 4,000 feet
Colorado River - 2,425 feet
The North Kaibab Trail is the only North Rim trail leading into the inner canyon and can be done as a backpacking trip.
All 5 of us gathered at Las Vegas Airport since all were coming from different locations to achieve a common goal of trekking in the Canyon. During my last visit this venture got embedded in my mind after seeing the beauty of the Grand Canyon from Helicopter. I thought of doing this trek whenever opportunity arises. I expressed this to my trek colleagues. Rajat, the leader of this trek, did entire ground work of choosing the trail and planning for camping and relevant formalities for 5 people, most of them were Bhramanti members at some point. Hence we decided to conduct this trek under the banner of Bhramanti. Tanuja, my wife, took care of food planning in co-ordination with Rajat and me. Abhishek did the lodge booking. Puneet took the responsibility of Car rental and driving. I did the tent and kitchen equipment arrangements.
On the way, we visited Wal-Mart and other stores for the grocery purchase. Our entire baggage was little overloaded but we were prepared for all types of weather conditions. It was sunny day and we were pretty comfortable, slowly everyone started filtering out what is necessary during the drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon. Our 1st major stop was for lunch just before Hoover Dam since most of us were hungry. The next stop was at Hoover Dam car parking for photo session and then we kept moving to the South Rim which was our 1st day destination before the Trek. As usual, inspite of carrying the latest navigation gadgets, we went off the actual road exploring the Maswik village jungle for 1 hr. This happened when we were driving on the trail road without any street light. The treasure hunt for route got resolved after we returned back to the main highway from where we went off the trail and then traced the correct route laughing at our sense of understanding road instructions.
The Maswik lodge is a nice place to stay due to its surrounding. We checked-in the 2 lodge rooms for 1 night. After dinner break we sorted out equipments and grocery stuff and divided among 5 of us. Rajat tested the camping stoves and then packed our bags till midnight. Next day we had car drive service hired to drop us to North Rim.
We decided to wake up at 5 am and got ready to move along with the team at 6 am for early breakfast. I went to next room where other 3 of our members had checked-in and felt little uncomfortable seeing Puneet still sleeping, Abhishek still heavy with sleep and Rajat in the washroom. Abhishek made me aware that due to Day-Light saving the previous night, we had 1 more hr to relax. I went back immediately to my room and had a little nap. We parked our car in the public parking place for next 4 days. After breakfast we got a call from the our private car shuttle service that the lady is ready to drive us from Maswik. When we loaded our luggage inside the car and were ready for photography, Betty car owner informed us that in this area (Maswik), they don't follow the time change, which means she was late by 1 hr. Anyways we started at around 8:30am from Maswik village towards the North Rim. It was nice and informative drive with Betty alongwith a treat of Donuts, Chips and drinks that she brought for us. We spent 15-20 minutes each at various scenic destinations on the way like Light house and restricted area where the old tree fossils were protected. We spent few minutes at a shop in the National Park which was the last stop before the trek, after this there was no place to buy anything for the next 4 days. We reached the North Rim near the entrance of the North Kaibab trail at around 2 pm and immediately after reorganizing ourselves started for our venture. Abhishek was our official self claimed photographer due to his new D90 SLR camera and hence heavily loaded with all latest gadgets while I was the one with bare minimum requirements.
The 1st day trek was kind of easy since we were supposed to descent 4021 ft on the well set route, but since it was the 1st day and due to varied fitness and excitement levels, there was a distance of 1 km between the 1st and the last person. We met at regular intervals to rest which energized all of us though. It was nice to see different layers with distinct colors of the Canyon mountains from bottom to supai level. We prominently saw "Utah Century-plant" frequently during the trek. At one point, we were saying each other that our faces look green due to the layer color reflecion from where we were passing. It's really grand to see these big mountains from the Valley although from the top it looks like a big crack on the land. I was trying to relate this things since I had seen the Grand Canyon from air. It gives the sense of reality when you are totally disconnected with the world during such activity. Also, we did not at all discuss anything about work. After initial 2 hrs of trek, we started to know our limits and started enjoying each and every aspect of the land and scenery around us. For some, it was special activity like my wife since we were trekking 1st time outside our home country together, for Puneet it was 1st such experience, while Rajat and Abhishek were happy as they got opportunity to take time out of daily work schedule.
I asked everyone to put there headlight handy since it was getting dark and we were little unsure about our campsite reaching time. We walked approx. 6.9 miles to reach our 1st day campsite Cotton Wood reaching at 7:30 pm. The site did not have any drinking water facility. Knowing this fact we carried sufficient water for all 5 of us. We pitched our 2 tents and started preparing for the dinner. It was little adventure to put the tent in the dark and then prepare the food in the presence of mountain tailless rats. We closed our day as early as possible confirming our next day trek plan.
I liked the arrangement made at the campsite in terms of hygiene and camping area information put up on board to help the hikers. One of the neighbor camper told us about the hike to Bright Angel that it is full of scenic beauty and that we will enjoy it. But this discussion was held up at wrong place (near toilet) where different tensions had mounted. After the morning tea and breakfast we started at 8:30 am for our next campsite - Bright Angel. This particular walk was fantastic. On the way we saw one route marked for Roaring falls to the left and after 1 mile another fall - Ribbon fall which can see on this trail from almost 1 mile off of Phantom Ranch. Phantom Ranch is the another site where people can hire the lodge and the site has food facility. On the way just before Phantom ranch we had to close our walki-talki set since the route was all along the river bed and through big enclosed rocks with turns every after 50 ft. This trail route was plain with little elevation in the beginning. We reached at around 2:30 pm at the selected campsite. Settled down with our tents and kitchen. Had some evening breakfast since we didn't have lunch on the way. Then went on for the medical facility to check damages occurred during 1st 2 days for our friend Abhishek. Apart from medical facility the site has little amphitheater for the lodging community, that was kind of entertainment or gathering arrangement made for campers. As usual we closed the day early after dinner with next day schedule discussion.
This trek was shortest one but had elevation of around 3000 ft hence little tiring. It took us 5 hrs to reach the place. The place is like a Garden. Yes its real name is Indian Garden. Its in the valley and has big tree line. From this campsite there are 2 short trails, one going to the Plateau point and other to some other point which is at high altitude. After the short brunch and tea we all went to Plateau point which was 1.5 miles from the campsite. This trail has plenty "Prickly-pear" (Cactus) which has medicinal importance. They are Yellow to Purplih flowers. We were not aware of what is in this place so it was like a casual walk for us without any bags. We were amazed after reaching this point specially at the time of sunset. All peaks looked painted in golden yellow and below, almost 2000-3000 ft down, the Colorado river flowing. It was awesome and completely refreshed us from our tiredness. We spent almost 1-1/2 hrs at this point.
After the morning Tea and breakfast we started at 7:30 am towards our final destination - South Rim (Maswik Village). We started early this time due to 3000 ft ascent trek and also not to miss our Las Vegas flight back home. We reached Maswik by 12 noon. All of us were very happy to successfully complete the grand trek. Had quick photo session to stamp our achievement together. We reached Las Vegas on time.
We thanked each other and Bhramanti after the success of this trek. It was good team effort and indeed well planned trek. Hope to see all of us again for similar venture till the time we are in US.