While planning for my trip to Zion I knew I wanted to break it up with a stop in Flagstaff. That way I wouldn't be driving from Tucson to Zion in one go which can take 9-10 hours on a good day. I was looking for trails around Flagstaff when I realized how close I'd be to the Grand Canyon. How could I skip a chance to hike in the Grand Canyon? I put my Flagstaff hiking plans on hold and decided to focus on the grandest of canyons.
I've been half heartedly planning a rim to rim to rim for a while now and knew I wanted to save the South Kaibab and Bright Angel trails for that trip. I wasn't going to have a ton of time for a hike but I wanted something that would whet my appetite for more. Driving to the South Rim from Flagstaff was going to take me an hour and a half so I searched "best Grand Canyon day hikes" and the Grandview Trail was number one on almost every list I found. It's not as crowded, most people stay near the top, you might only encounter a handful of people while on the trail, and the views are stunning. Compared to the bonanza fest I knew would await me at the trails near the South Rim Visitor's Center, the Grandview Trail sounded like the perfect introductory trail for me.
I figured I could easily hike down to Horseshoe Mesa and back up again in 3 hours, that's what I gave myself so that I'd have enough time to drive to Zion before Zion Adventure Company closed so I could pick up my wet gear for the Narrows. I'm typically hiking at 2-ish mph and figured I could do the 6 miles down and back up in that amount of time. But as we know when it comes to hiking, things don't always go according to plan and you don't always hike as fast as you think you would and you should allow more time for standing and just staring at the awesome scenery around you.
I got an early start, leaving Flagstaff around 5:15am and making it to the Canyon right before sunrise. I was at Navajo Point just as the light started to hit the Canyon and it took my breath away. I literally gasped. The beauty of The Grand Canyon is hard to describe. And yes, I cried.
There was the slightest chill in the air as I started hiking down around 7:30am. I passed probably 25 people at the top and by the time I was a half mile down trail I was all by myself. The morning light on the canyon walls was gorgeous. I felt this rush of gratitude while on trail. This was the first solo trip I've taken in a long time. The fact that I was even doing it, that I was even on that trail at that exact moment made me feel so incredibly proud of myself and grateful for the ability and opportunity to take the time to do a trip like this. For years I've wanted to travel and hike by myself and here I was doing it! In the Grand Canyon! The entire hike I just kept t thinking "I can't believe it's finally here! I'm so proud of you, Stephanie!"
I made it down to Horseshoe Mesa in two hours. By now I knew that my original timeline was going out the window and I was going to be pushing it to get to Springdale, UT in time. I took in the scenery of Horseshoe Mesa and then turned around to get back out of the canyon. I stared up at the rim where I had hiked down from and knew this was going to be a long, challenging hike.
I broke the trail up in my mind and hiked each little bit as it came, which is really the only way to do a hike. I kept repeating to myself, "you got this, you're hiking in the Grand Canyon!, it's only hard, you can do hard things, you're practically at the top, you're basically done already, just keep hiking.."
At one point halfway up I was so taken by the scenery that I had to stop and paint. Another goal of this trip was to paint every day and even though I was extremely behind schedule I took 30 minutes to paint in the Grand Canyon. I felt another wave of gratitude to be following my dream of being an artist and taking that first step by combining my art and my hiking.
The last mile or so was a steep, switchback, rocky trail. It was tough but I kept pushing on and before I knew it I was back at the top. 5.5 hours later and 2.5 hours longer than I thought it would take. I felt accomplished and so proud of myself. I couldn't stop smiling. It had already been an incredible trip and this was only Day One! Zion was still waiting for me and I had more challenges ahead of me (including locking my keys in my car in Page, AZ, but that story is for another time!).
Date hiked: October 28, 2018
Total miles: 5.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,500 feet
Total time: 5.5 hours
Land Acknowledgement: Ancestral lands of the Havasupai, Hopi, Hualapai, Navajo, White Mountain Apache, Paiute, Yavapai Apache, and Zuni