Day 1 – Road trip
Being a mountain lover, it has been my dream to go hiking in the Grand Canyon. It was on the top of my to-do list during my USA visit this year. My sister took care of the planning part and got us tickets to Las Vegas, rented a car, and booked a hotel in the South Rim.
Upon arriving at Las Vegas, we picked up the car and headed towards Hover Dam. It took us about an hour to get there and find a parking space. Once there, we enjoyed the view of the dam and the scenery around the dam, and took some photos.
Initially, the map showed that it would take us about 2 hours to get from the North Rim to our hotel in the South Rim. After spending about 40 minutes in the Hoover Dam, we headed towards the North Rim. We spent about 4 hours on the road, and drove through some reservations and deserts.
It was already late afternoon when we found out that the initial timing on the map was wrong, and we would need more than 6 hours to get to our hotel from the North Rim. We decided to postpone our visit to the North Rim to our last day and changed our route towards the South Rim. On the way, we also managed to see the views of the West Rim and stop to take some photos.
Our estimated time of arrival to the hotel turned out to be around midnight. As we were getting hungry, we found a nice Navajo restaurant, called Cameron, on the route to have dinner. The food there was delicious and they also had a local souvenir shop, where we bought some gifts.
We arrived at the hotel after midnight, checked in and went to bed.
Day 2 – hiking along the Bright Angel Trail, South Rim
We chose the Bright Angel Trail for our hiking experience. It is one of the highly rated and recommended trails in the reviews. After driving to the Tourist Information Office, we took the shuttle to the starting point of the trail. We started our hike at 9.25. We were so amazed by the beauty of surroundings, that we started taking photos. My sister tried to persuade us to walk faster without stopping too long for photos. She was insisting that we could take more photos on the way back.
Overall, the trail is 12 miles – 6 miles each direction. Each 1.5 miles there are rest zones with drinking water and a restroom. Most people do only the first 1.5 miles and go back to the starting point. The trail first goes down, and then up, which makes it difficult.
If you continue the hike, you will see a warning notice on reaching the 3-mile point. While on going down you might consider this as a joke, you will fully understand the value of this warning if you continue on the track.
The further you go, the fewer tourists you meet.
At the 4.5-mile point, the trail divides into several other trails. When we reached this point one of the girls, Katya, was already exhausted and tried to persuade us to go back. We decided to continue on the track and thought that she can have a rest there. Not wanting to stay apart from us, she also joined us.
We decided to go to the Plateau Point, which is another 1.5 miles. By the time we got to the Plateau Point, we were exhausted. This was because we had to walk for 40 minutes under the scorching sun. We ran out of our water and were happy to find the water pump there.
Apart from several people, the whole place was quiet and peaceful. We enjoyed the view of the river Colorado flowing, griffins flying and the overall view of the Canyon. My sister and me went to the top point, quickly took some photos and went to have some rest in the shade of huge stones.The other two girls spent a lot of time taking photos from different points and not worrying too much about the heat. The thrill from the whole experience and from the breathtaking views made them forget the heat for some time.
After about 40 minutes, we soaked our shirts and caps wet and started our return hike. My sister decided to go faster ahead of us, bring the car and wait for us at the starting point. She left the backpack with me and jogged away. Since both of the girls were hiking for the first time I stayed with them.
The sun was burning and we had to sip water, and pour some over us all the time. This made it easier to survive the heat. Upon reaching the 4.5-mile point in an hour, we had a rest for about half an hour. Then, we poured water over us and proceeded on our way. The way back was much harder and took longer. We still stopped and took some photos of the scenery and squirrels.
Katya was really exhausted and every time we met other hikers and they asked how we were feeling she complained we lied to her that it would be fun. She would sit and refuse to continue stating she was almost dead. We almost pulled her to go on after spending some rest time.
The last 3 miles were the hardest part of the hike. The sun was not so hot anymore, but going up after 9 miles was exhausting. At one point both my friends just sat down on the road and refused to stand. But then when they saw the squirrel, they strangely forgot about their tiredness and started shooting the photos of that squirrel.
When we were still an hour away from our final destination, I got a message from my sister that she forgot the car key in the backpack with me, so we told her to go back to the hotel instead of waiting for us. I barely could walk when we reached the top.
It took us more than 3 hours to reach the top. However, I was happy with my achievement.
We bought some souvenirs in the shop and took the shuttle to the Tourist Information Office to pick up the car. When we finally got back to the hotel, all of us had a terrible headache because of the scorching sun. This hike was an unforgettable experience, though.
Day 3 – Shuttle Tour
Next morning we wanted to drive to the North Rim, but the receptionist at the hotel told us it was closed due to the fires. That’s why we decided to see another part of South Rim using shuttle service. We drove to the Tourist Information Office and asked for recommendations as to which routes are better to take for a few hours visit. We took the orange shuttle and within the next 2 hours had a tour of several watch-points along the shuttle route.
The shuttle stops at several points and you can get off and get on at any point.
This trip was a lifetime experience.