I came up with a plan a bit ago for a nice outdoor challenge and it’s almost time to try and pull it off! I’m going to try to do The Grand Canyon (South Kaibab to Bright Angel), Mt Whitney, and Half Dome all in the same week. Seems like a fun week of vacation, right?
I’ll be heading to the Ten-X Campground just outside of Grand Canyon National Park on Friday, September 2nd. My friend is celebrating his birthday up there and reserved one of the group campsites. I’m going to head out midmorning to get up there, get the tent set-up, get comfy and chill. I’m excited for the adventures, but also for some car camping, living in comfort in the outdoors! After a night of relaxing outside, I’ll get up, drive into the park and hop the Hikers Shuttle out to the South Kaibab Trailhead. My goal is to do the hike in under 8 hours, but I’ll be happy just enjoying myself on the hike. After hiking I’ll head back to the campground for some chilling out and helping my friend celebrate his birthday.
Sunday morning I’ll going to get up, enjoy some breakfast and coffee, pack up my stuff and hit the road. I’ll be heading for a stop over in Las Vegas during my drive to Mt Whitney. It’s too long of a drive in one day so it makes for a nice stop over and one last shower before a solid week in the tent.
Monday morning I’ll get up, grab some breakfast and hit the road around 8am. I’ll stop by Star Wars Canyon again in my hopes of one day seeing some jets there and hopefully get to the Whitney Portal Campground around the 2pm check-in time.
After getting my campsite set up, I’ll do a little walking around and then relax before an early dinner. I’ll crash out for as long as possible and probably get up around midnight.
Since I didn’t get a Half Done permit in the lottery I need to drive down the portal road until I get internet service and get in the 2 day out Half Dome lottery for Thursday. After that I’ll drive back up to the trailhead and get the hike started.
I hope to get started by 1 or 2 am, so I can set a nice sustainable pace for a just after sunrise summit. After a bit on the summit I’ll head down and try and rest up as much as possible. Later that afternoon I should find out if I got the Half Dome permit, fingers crossed!
Wednesday morning I want to get up early and get on the road to Yosemite. I might just grab breakfast in Lone Pine, we’ll see. It’s a four hour drive (not including any lines to get into the park) and I want to maximize my time in the valley.
If I get a permit I’ll pick it up and then cruise around the village and check out some of the sights. I’ll probably start the hike about 4am, I want to get up and down the cables before any crowds or afternoon weather.
If I don’t get a permit I think I’m probably going to do the Clouds Rest Hike, it’s supposed to be pretty awesome, just no cables. Overall I’m stoked to be able to hike in Yosemite Valley and I’m going to try to have as much fun as possible!
So that’s the plan , I think it’ll be fun no matter what, definitely expect some tough hiking. Also very looking forward to some car camping in amazing places!
I’ve gotten most of the planning done for this summer’s adventures. There are still a couple of things up in the air, but most of the important details have been taken care of or there’s a plan to do so. Right now I’m starting to concentrate on getting in shape for this challenge, not digging too deep yet, just trying to get a solid base built.
I hiked both days this weekend, yesterday was a nice 7 miles in South Mountain Park. I love this hike, 1600ft vertical and lots of rolling hill once you get up high!
The Status of the Plans
The Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne trip is all set. Plans, permits and all reservations have been made. The only thing left to do will be buy supplies, load up and head out. The hardest part will be waiting almost 3 more months!!
The September Challenge is almost all set with an important hurdle still to get over.
- Grand Canyon Campsite ✅
- Whitney Portal Campsite ✅
- Mt Whitney Day Permit ✅
- Yosemite Valley Campsite ✅
- Half Dome Permit ❌
I was unsuccessful in getting a Half Dome permit during the seasonal lottery, my plan is to enter the daily lottery 2 days out from the hike date, The only complication is that’s the day I’m hiking Mt Whitney, so I’ll wait until midnight and drive down the Portal road until I get service, sign-up for the lottery, drive up to the trailhead and start my hike, hike out in the afternoon and find out if I got a slot. If I don’t get that slot then my last opportunity will be permit jumping. Apparently you can hike to the base of the sub-dome and ask the rangers if there have been any open spots on permits, if there have been up you go. If anyone out there has any experience with this please hit me up! If that doesn’t work out I’ll hike around for a bit and enjoy being in Yosemite Valley!
See you on the trails!!
I’ve been getting together the plans for this summer and the outlook for excellent adventure seems high! The first and main backpacking trip of the summer is the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne. I have never been to Yosemite and it’s been on the list for a long time. Since it’s in the middle of the crowded time I was pretty happy that this is the permit I ended up getting my hands on! We’ll be in Tuolumne, the Yosemite high country, which should be a little less crowded than the valley, To make things better I’ve got two longtime friends coming along, one I met the first day of kindergarten.
The hike is a 33 mile point to point hike that follows the Tuolumne River through an amazing looking canyon with a number of awesome waterfalls. We’re planning on 4 days and 3 nights of hiking, most of the days shouldn’t be too bad distance-wise so hopefully we’ll get some time to chill by the waterfalls and check things out! My friends are flying in and out of Vegas, so we’ll cruise through Death Valley National Park on our way back. Maybe stop by Star Wars Canyon or Badwater Basin! Really looking forward to a point to point backpack in an amazing place with good friends.
The next adventure will be a big one! It’s my friends 50th birthday the first week of September, and he reserved a group campsite right outside of Grand Canyon National Park. I’m going to drive up Friday, get the campsite set-up and chill for the evening. The next morning I’m going to wake up early and do the South Kaibab to Bright Angel Hike. I’d like to do it under 8 hours, so I’m going for fast and light mode. That puts me back at the campground in the early afternoon. I’ll hang out Saturday night and Sunday assisting my friend in his birthday celebrating.
Monday morning it’ll be time to get up and get on the road to the Whitney Portal. That’s right, I scored a day permit for Mt Whitney! I have a reserved campsite at the Whitney Portal Campground, and hope to get there and get all set up by 4pm. After that I’m going to try to sleep for a few hours and get started with the hike about midnight. I’d like to do the hike in about 12 hours, putting me back at the campsite around noon. The rest of the day will be about refueling and resting up as much as possible, while still getting a good night’s sleep.
Wednesday morning will be another morning to get up and get going because we’re headed back to Yosemite. It’s time to tick Half Dome off the list! I’ll hit the road to the Lower Pines campground as early as possible, once I get to the valley I’ll get set-up, get my permit and take in the majesty of Yosemite Valley. I hope that being there in September will take the crowds down a little compared to the height of the summer, we’ll see…
Thursday morning I’ll probably try to start hiking about 3-4am to ensure I beat the crowds and any weather. After what I think will be an amazing hike, it’ll be back to the campsite to chill the rest of the day and then head back to Phoenix Friday morning.
Permit/reservation-wise, the Grand Canyon campsite is taken care of and I don’t need a permit for a day hike. I have a Day Whitney permit and reserved campsite at Whitney Portal. The only big hurdle left is the Yosemite stuff. I find out Monday the 11th if I get a Half Dome Permit, and on the 15th I can try and make a Lower Pines Campground reservation. If I don’t get a half dome permit but am able to get a campsite I’ll probably still go and try and get a daily permit lottery slot.
I’m going to have to be pretty fit and get a little lucky with the weather, but I think I can pull this off. It’ll be fun to try, one way or another!
The past 2 summers I’ve backpacked the Grand Canyon, it’s been a nice, relaxing vacation kind of trip. We’ve hiked down to the Bright Angel Campground, spent 2 nights at the bottom, hiked up to Indian Garden and spent a night there and then hiked out. A nice easy way to go, but I have wanted to just bust it out in a day for a while, just to do it!
Due to the COVID-19 restrictions the restaurant I work at was closed for almost 2 months. There was work to do, to come out better than before and be ready to open with new cleanliness procedures and such, but there was also a lot of free time. Outdoor exercise was allowed under Arizona’s stay at home order and I took advantage of that. Hiking, biking, and running became my major activities, I had a great time, saw some cool things and came out of it pretty fit. This seemed like a perfect time to try a Grand Canyon in a day hike.
I began not so patiently waiting for Grand Canyon National Park to re-open, obsessively checking their website and twitter account. Once they opened, I was hoping the shuttles would be running, but that hadn’t happened yet and it was getting too far into the summer to wait much longer. My original plan was to go down the South Kaibab trail and up Bright Angel. You can’t park at the S Kaibab trailhead, and I really didn’t want to walk it. I decided I would see if I could get a Lyft in the morning out to the trail-head or just hike Bright Angel both ways.
I headed out Friday morning around 10am, and made good time up to Flagstaff. After navigating the afternoon traffic, which can be a task, I got a sandwich at the Crystal Creek Sandwich Co, a great sandwich place in Flag! Back on the road, I made it to the Ten-X Campground right outside the park a little after 2 pm.
Ten-X is a nice, basic national forest campground that has been re-modeled recently, I was able to reserve a great spot on the outer loop and had no one within 100 yards of me, not too bad for an established campground! After I got set-up I headed into the park for a bit.
While I’m not surprised, I’ve never seen Grand Canyon so deserted. I was able to park right next to El Tovar and there were very few people walking around. I walked around the rim a bit and got some pics. Unfortunately there’s a large fire burning on the North Rim, in the pic below those aren’t clouds you see right next to the canyon rim!
After some cruising around I chilled on the El Tovar patio, took in the scene and had a couple beers. After that it was back to the campsite to relax for a while.
Back at the campground I just relaxed in the nice temperatures and enjoyed being out of the city, it’s so relaxing just being in the outdoors! Unfortunately there is a fire ban in most of Arizona, so no campfire for me. Since I was by myself I passed the time watching a movie on my phone until it was time to make dinner and then crash out around 10pm.
It was a nice night to sleep outdoors, cool enough that I needed to be in my sleeping bag, a nice change for someone who lives in Phoenix! I got up about 4am and started boiling some water for coffee and oatmeal. While that was going I was able to get my camp broken down and everything stowed in the truck. After a nice warm breakfast and some coffee to sip on I headed towards the park.
Not surprisingly there was no traffic and no one else at the entrance station, I made it to the Backcountry Information Center pretty quickly. While I had pretty much accepted that I was going to take Bright Angel both ways, I tried one thing to get out to the South Kaibab Trail-head, Lyft. There were no Lyft drivers around at 5:30, also not a surprise…
It’s a quick walk over to the BA Trailhead from BIC, I did have to skirt around an elk family enjoying some shrubberies for breakfast. After that it was time to head out into the canyon.
It was a nice morning for hiking, cruised along at nice pace and tried not to slow down to take too may pictures. It’s not easy in this amazing place. It was great to hike along, let your thoughts wander and just be. Before I knew it I was at Indian Garden, filled up on water and off I went again. The temps were still pretty good at this point, the entire hike down was comfortable and easy.
Pretty soon I was past the River Resthouse and on the River Trail to the Silver Bridge. The trek through the sand dunes wasn’t too bad, and I made it to Bright Angel Campground pretty quickly. The campground was pretty much deserted except for a few day hikers, I found a campsite by the creek to chill for a bit. Stripped down to just the shorts and spent about 5 minutes soaking in BA Creek. Overall I wasn’t super warm, but wanted to cool myself down for the rest of the day, which I knew would be hot.
After cooling off and eating a quick lunch, it was time to hike uphill. At this point I was staring to figure out a goal time to aim for and 8 hours sounded doable. This time the sand dunes felt much warmer, but the Pipe Creek section comes up quickly and provides some nice shade. You could easily soak yourself with water here to cool down if you were already feeling hot. I felt super strong during this portion, and made it to Indian Garden in one solid push. Also, I was able to get through the switchbacks pictured below with some shade!
After Indian Garden the real work begins. I tried to just put it in a low gear and keep on going up. The last 3 1/2 miles or so are the hardest part as you climb out of the canyon, you can see in the pic below the serious elevation gain tin the last few miles! I started to feel a little squirrelly the last mile or so, but I just kept going because finishing is the best way to feel better!
I topped out just under my 8 hour goal, a little tired, a bit thirsty and super glad I did this hike. I still need to nail down what caused my issues the last mile, some kind of hydration/nutrition things was lacking. I drank ample water, had 7 Nuun tablets, both things of Honey Stingers, 4 cliff bars and a Ziploc bag of pretzel things.
I love the Grand Canyon, and feel so lucky to be able to access it so easily, 13 hours after starting my hike I was home in Phoenix!