The Kaibab trail is the famous trail that actually goes down into the Grand Canyon. I read in a guidebook that we could reserve a donkey ride that would go partway down into the canyon. There is one catch; you must weigh less than 200 pounds. I said to Vickie, “Let’s check it out. I am sure I have lost some weight so far on this hiatus.”
I told the lady at the counter, “I am maybe one or two pounds over 200”. She didn’t buy my story and actually pulled out a scale to test me. I explained to her that I preferred to weigh myself buck naked, early in the morning, and just after my morning coffee had done its job. She looked at me stoically and pointed at the scale. 217 Pounds. I tried to negotiate with her, “look if you take the average weight of Vickie and I it’s only 163-1/2!”. No go. We were going to have to walk this one.
We arrived at the Kaibab trail head parking area bright and early (about 7:00 am). We had a hearty breakfast in the van, loaded our day packs (I really mean Vickie’s day pack) with ample water, a nutritious lunch, abundant sunscreen, and set out.
This hike is exact the opposite of most off the hikes that Vickie and I do. We usually plan on exerting ourselves on the way up to a waterfall or an overlook. Once we arrive, we rest & recuperate, and prepare for the easy hike back down. On the way down I usually daydream about our celebratory meal; the medium rare New York Strip steak dinner, baked potato and an oatmeal stout; or it could be Cadillac margaritas and chicken fajitas with rice and beans; or it might just be a ½ pound bacon cheeseburger with french fries drenched in ketchup and a malty brown ale; but it could also be fresh rainbow trout with capers and a lemon demi-glace and fresh asparagus drizzled with hollandaise sauce and hoppy citrus IPA………..sorry, I get sidetracked. What was I talking about? Oh yeah, The Kaibab trail.
The trail down is full of stunning vistas
The problem with this trail is, it’s all backwards. We coast 4.7 miles downhill with gravity pulling us along, almost blissfully ignorant of the return trip. We speed past the Coconino Overlook, cruise through the Supai Tunnel, then coast across the Redwall Bridge, and finally glide into the Roaring Springs ‘day use area’. This is a great place to sit in the shade and have a nice snack. It even has a restroom.
What you really aren’t prepared for, even though you know it’s coming, is the laborious journey back to the trailhead and the canyon rim. They even have a warning listed on the day hiker trail maps, “Day hiking beyond Raring Springs from the rim is not recommended.”
Now the work begins. We begin the uphill slog. After about an hour I say to Vickie “can you see the bridge yet?”
Now with the sun fully overhead and the trail heating to about 30 degrees warmer than we started, I am starting to sweat profusely. We thankfully reach Supai Bridge.
I comment to Vickie “I remember the tunnel was only a half a mile from the bridge. It shouldn’t be too bad.”
A half hour later, “Do you see the tunnel?”
“I don’t remember it being that far……”
When we arrive at the tunnel I just stop in the middle because it has shade and a great breeze. I say “the Coconino Overlook is just ahead”
“Do you have any water left, because I’m out?”
“Wow, I don’t remember it being so steep.”
We finally we made it back to the parking lot. The uphill climb back seemed to take twice as long and 3 times the energy it took going down. The dried up donkey droppings that scattered the upper part of the trail on the way down were just quaint little piles we easily avoided. But on the way back up, today’s donkeys who started their trek after us and completed their days work before us, carrying skinny vegetarian foreign tourists, had left us minefield of fresh feces to navigate. The potent smell reminded me of a overcrowded horse pen in late August compounded with a potent urea smell so strong that it brought my tears to my eyes. I hope the lodge was out of fresh carrots for the tourists when they got back to the lodge for their celebratory vegan dinner (aka. rabbit food).
The whole trip took us under 6 hours though it felt like much longer. And yes…….we did go to the lodge ourselves and I celebrated with a crisp cold IPA.