Sandra's Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim Hike

First Sandra's Rim to Rim to Rim Hike

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Sandraís Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim Hike

August 26th - August 27th, 2001


On August 26, 2001, at about 11:45 a.m., I started out from the North Kaibab trailhead for a rim to rim to rim hike. Using the North and South Kaibab trails, the rim to rim to rim hike is just under 42 miles. Three weeks earlier, I had attempted the same hike (that time I was going from the south rim to the north rim and back), but my knees gave out on me and I was only able to do a rim to rim hike. The weather on the first attempt was much nicer due to cloud cover and a brief but intense rain shower. This time, however, there was nothing but hot, brilliant sunshine. My intent in starting out at about noon was so that I would start my hike up the South Kaibab trail at around sunset. As it turned out, I reached the Colorado River a bit after 5:00 p.m. I waited until shortly before 7:00 p.m. to start the hike up the South Kaibab, reaching the South rim at about 11:00 p.m. My sister had started out at the North rim for a rim to rim hike earlier that same morning and made it to the Colorado River around mid-day. She told me that a thermometer at Phantom Ranch (in direct sunlight) read 120 degrees. She wisely chose to wait out the heat of the day soaking in Bright Angel Creek. My sister made it to the South rim a couple of hours ahead of me.

Sandra Finishes 42 miles Kaibab Bridge Lemonade at a Pump Station Scorpion

After about an hourís rest on the South rim, I set off for the return trip to the North rim Ė this time accompanied by my husband. It was now around midnight. We found our headlamps attracted everything with wings. On our way down to the river, we encountered many hikers on their way up the trail who had gotten an early start to beat the incredible late August sun. We made it to the river much later than I would have hoped. Three weeks before, it had taken me about two and a half hours to reach the river. This time, it took me over four hours. Although both times I hiked down in the dark, I attribute the slower time to a problem with depth perception resulting from wearing my headlamp on my head rather than carrying it in my hand.

After a short rest near Bright Angel campground, we started off on the final leg to the North rim. Unfortunately, I was pretty much out of gas. I hadnít been able to eat much on the entire hike. About two miles from the river and with about twelve miles to go, I thought Iíd hit the end of my trail. After a bit of a rest though, we pushed on (or pretty much crawled on). It took nearly twelve more hours to reach the North Kaibab trailhead and the end of the hike. My goal was foremost to complete the hike and had hoped to do it in under 24 hours. Oh well. I did it in about 29 hours. I think lack of food and too much sun and heat did me in.


Bright Angel Creek Tributary Night Hiker Supai Tunnel Swamp Starting Back
You might be wondering why I chose to do this in the middle of summer. My husband says it is because I am insane. Actually, there were reasons (probably none of them good enough). The timing for the second hike was because we were already going to be in the Grand Canyon area for a river trip through the Canyon. Less than 24 hours after completing the hike, my husband and I were floating our way through the Canyon. Three days later, we were floating under the Kaibab suspension bridge, which I had crossed over twice on the hike. What a different perspective that was!

Both modes (hiking and rafting) are a great way to see the Canyon, however, I do not recommend to anyone to try a rim to rim to rim hike in August (just in case anyone would actually consider it). But do get out and see the Canyon. Itís beautiful!

Update: Not completely satisfied with the time it took me to do my first rim to rim to rim hike, I returned to the Canyon in May 2002, to once again attempt the hike. On May 20, 2002 at about 1:30 a.m., I started the hike. Again, I used the South and North Kaibab trails. My husband met me at the North Rim and made the return hike to the South Rim with me. We finished the hike a little after midnight for a total time of 22 hours 42 minutes. After that hike, we headed to the western part of the Canyon and hiked the Lava Falls Trail. After some interesting moments in the steep scree slope, we reached Lava Falls rapid and watched a raft trip going through the rapid. Now that is one steep trail!

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