Back From The Grand Canyon

I am home from my rim to rim and back journey with Scott Turner through the Grand Canyon. The fact that I took over a thousand photos is a good indicator of how awe inspiring I found my experience. So, it will take me a few more days to go through those photos and share more comprehensive impressions.

For now, I just want to share my observation that vastness in the Grand Canyon is tempered by countless spots that would be cherished end destinations on hikes most other places. Ribbon Falls is an excellent example.

Scott and I initially saw Ribbon Falls off in the distance from the North Kaibab Trail on our way to Cottonwood Campground. We decided to set up camp at Cottonwood first and return to the falls on a 3.2 mile late afternoon hike. This turned out to be a great decision as the potable water at Cottonwood was murky containing a fair amount of red silt. Unpacking our packs allowed us to filter the clear water of Ribbon Falls with enough water for the night and the following day’s trip to the North Rim and back.

For many people, just being a waterfall would be enough to make Ribbon Falls a great spot. However, its multifaceted characteristics are what makes it stand out for me and are what makes it a good example of the kinds of spots I mentioned above. As shown in the gallery of photos below (click to enlarge), it is a complex area with many elements to the waterfall and many different places within it to view both the waterfall and its surroundings. Each place within yields an interestingly different perspective of the elements of the waterfall and there is a great view out to the larger canyon. Spending time at the pool at the bottom, or behind the falls under the rock overhang looking through the falling water toward the canyon, or off to one of the sides watching the wind change where the water lands and trickles down on the moss covered rock leading down to the pool could all be wonderful destinations on their own. This large space in terms our human scale is intimate by Grand Canyon standards. While this was my favorite spot in the Canyon (possibly due to my desire to drink clear water—which was fantastic by the way), there were just so many others!

35 thoughts on “Back From The Grand Canyon

  1. Grand Canyon is a grand place indeed. It seems like you had a fantastic trip. The pictures are beautiful and does show the grand scale and the multifaceted nature of Grand Canyon. I look forward to seeing more from your trip.

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  2. The hike sounds wonderful, and the falls well worth the extra miles and time. I would love to do the rim to rim sometime, there are just so many extraordinary places to see on foot that it’s hard to find the time to do them all.

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    • I had a great time, thanks! I’ve heard the best two times are in the spring and fall. I definitely enjoyed the weather and liked seeing a lot of the water that might not be around come October.

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      • LOL I was going to say April or October are the best times to visit. 🙂 Until you hike it, it’s hard to explain. Someday, I’ll do what you did! Cheers!

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    • Thanks! I’ve never been to a waterfall like that before and I agree the moss provided an interesting contrast–especially when thinking about the rest of the terrain.

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  3. Kyle, congratulations on completing the hike. Great pictures of one of our favorite parks. We hiked from the South Rim to Fathom Ranch many years ago and it remains one of our favorite hikes to this day. Looks like it was a perfect time of year to be there.

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    • Thanks. The weather was incredible. I think this might be the best time of year to go. It would have been much more difficult if it was hotter and I’m not sure how much water will be around in the summer.

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  4. Howdy Kyle,

    A group of us just got back from a R2R2R trip this weekend as well. Absolutely amazing. We didn’t go check out Ribbon Falls any closer than from the North Kaibab trail, so thanks for sharing your pictures. A couple of us did go out to Plateau Point, which was definitely worth the little excursion.

    See you on the trails,

    Chris

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    • Hey Chris, it would have been great to see you there! We were going to go to Plateau Point but decided to make it a four day instead of five day trip. We hiked out from Cottonwood via Bright Angel the last day. I’ll definitely be going back though. Went down South Kaibab. What route did you take? Did you trail run? I was surprised by how many trail runners I saw–especially on Thursday.

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      • We took South Kaibab down to the river, then up N. Kaibab to the rim, then back to the river and up Bright Angel. We ran most of the way but definitely hiked quite a bit of the uphill stretches.

        There were a bunch of runners out there weren’t there? ‘Tis the season. I’ll definitely be going back as well. And most likely to Zion sometime soon too hopefully.

        Chris

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  5. Been hiking down in the canyon several times and I never remember seeing so much green! Sounds like a great trip. I look forward to hearing and seeing more of your adventure.

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  6. Kyle, love it! Somehow I didn’t know you were doing the rim-to-rim. Can’t get enough of the vastness, the enormity, it’s overwhelming. Great pictures! I had planned to hike the Bright Angle Trail into the canyon last May, but hadn’t prepared myself for the narrow unguarded path so did a fifteen-mile rim hike west of the Bright Angel Cabins. You motivated me to post more pictures on my travel blog, but I did post a story about he hike with some picture on Yikes! here http://rite2run.wordpress.com/2012/05/19/yikes/ Thanks for sharing your venture.

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    • Nice post and thanks for providing a link to it. I agree with your comment that the “Grand” is an understatement. I found Bright Angel to be exceptionally well maintained, so next time you might want to give it a try. One option for you would be to hike down and trail run up which would pretty much eliminate the concerns you had with the nature of the trail.

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    • Thanks. It depends on the time of year and the kids. Personally I wouldn’t go in the summer. There was a boy scout troop that hiked down the South Kaibab trail and stayed at Bright Angel Campground. I didn’t see them the following day so I assume they went up the Bright Angel Trail instead of going rim to rim. I did see a mom and her young daughters making it up the Bright Angel trail (well below Indian Gardens) my last day. They weren’t carrying much gear (mom was carrying all of it) which makes me think they may have stayed at Phantom Ranch (near Bright Angel Campground and the Colorado River). If you plan far enough ahead, you can significantly lighten your family pack weight by staying at Phantom Ranch–see: http://www.grandcanyonlodges.com/phantom-ranch-704.html

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