Day 3: Two trails, 15 miles, 8 hours and the Drive to Sedona. After day 2 in the canyon, travelling down to the river and back and covering 25 miles, I thought maybe I’d be tired and want to do some relaxing on Day 3. My original plan for day 3 was to make my way out to the Hermit Trail at the west end of the South Rim. I wanted to get an early start and explore as much of the Hermit Trailhead as I could. I was confident I could make it down to Hermit Creek, about 8 miles down the trail, a total of 16 out and back….if I felt good!
I slept good the night before and when I woke, around 5:00 a.m. on day 3, to my surprise, I felt great! I thought my legs would feel sore and tight, like they’ve felt before, after running a marathon or 50k. I spent some time stretching the night before, which might have helped. I fired up the stove and got the coffee and oatmeal going. This day I wanted to do more running and use my new Ultimate Direction Pack. While I was waiting for the water to boil, I started getting things together and loaded into the pack. I rolled up two peanut butter and jelly burritos and some nuts for the days adventure. I was planning on hitting the road at the end of the day, heading to Sedona, so I packed up the tent into the car as well. When I finished packing, I ate my oatmeal, an apple and my cup of Joe, I was ready to go.
It was 6:30 by the time I entered the park and just like the previous days, there was little traffic, most of the visitors to the park were still in bed. One nice thing about the park is that the shuttle buses out to the trail heads, start running around 4 a.m. for the hikers and backpackers that want to get a jump on the day and inevitably, the heat. I knew that I had a long day ahead of me, so I took that extra hour to sleep in, If I could get out on the trail by 7, Id be happy.
I showed my 5-day park pass to the ranger as I entered the park and continued down the 5 mile stretch of road to the rim, where all the lodges and backcountry office are located. I was going to park at the backcountry office, walk the 1/2 mile to where I needed to catch the shuttle bus out to the Hermit Trailhead. I’m not sure how I made this last minute decision, it might be that I’m easily distracted or my curiousity to explore, whatever the reason, as I approached a fork in the road, I noticed a sign with an arrow that pointed to the Grandview Trail and without hesitation I veered right and thought “I’ve got some time, I’ll just check out where the trailhead is for future reference”. One of the things I like about travelling alone is that my plans can be fluid, changing as I go…the true recipe for adventure!!
The Grandview Trail is a rugged trail, nothing like the South Kaibab or the Bright Angel, with more beautiful views of the canyon. There’s parking at the trailhead with a lookout point and information about the trail. As I was reading about the trail I started to take interest in the history and ruggedness of the trail, even though my plan was to get to the Hermit Trail, I wanted to drop down onto this trail to see what it was all about.
I ran down the trail the best I could without taking a spill, jumping from rock to rock and dropping fast into the canyon. It didn’t take me long and I was at Coconino Saddle, just over a mile down. I stopped for a moment, checked the time, then kept going. I was going to run down to the Miners Spring Junction, but the trail was becoming more rugged and steep and it was harder to keep up my pace. I stopped on the trail and checked the time again, I’d been on the trail for a little over an hour. If I was going to make it to the Hermit Trail, I would have to turn around then and head back up to the rim. A rule of thumb for hiking down any of the Canyon’s trails is that however long it takes to hike down a trail, plan on it taking twice that long to hike back up. I proved that on the more traveled Bright Angel Trail and the South Kaibab, that rule might be a little conservative, on the Grandview Trail, give yourself at least that much time!!
It was 3 hours later and I arrived back at the top of the Rim. It was close to 10 and I needed to get to the Hermit Trail. Now I’d have to re-evaluate how far down to go on the Hermit Trail once I got there. The park doesn’t allow cars to drive out to the Hermit Trailhead, so I had to park at the backcountry office and take the shuttle. It took around 1/2 hour to get out to the Trailhead which I was regretting, until we started down the beautifully, scenic Hermit Road. The road takes you along the ridge of the canyon with spectacular views of the Canyon, as you drive. There’s 7 buses running one behind another around 10 minutes apart, which allows people to get off at a series of scenic overlooks where they can take pictures, then get back on the next bus if they prefer. I was totally enjoying this ride and it gave me a chance to relax and rest up before I headed down the Hermit Trail.
I finally arrived at the Hermit Trail trailhead, as you step off the shuttle the first thing you see is Hermit’s Rest. Hermit’s Rest is a stone building that was designed by Architect Mary Colter and built in 1914. There’s a gift shop and snack bar inside of the building that I bypassed to get down onto the trail.
The trail, due to its rugged nature is not nearly as travelled as the South Kaibab and the Bright Angel Trail. In fact I walked behind the building where the trail begins and I had to take a second look to make sure I was on the trail. It seemed to be the only place to walk down. Once I started down the trail became more recognizable.
After about a 1/2 mile down the trail, I began to pick up the pace, only slowing or stopping to snap some pictures.
I kept thinking that I really liked this trail and I was regretting not starting earlier than I did. I wouldn’t be able to make it down to the bottom as I’d hoped, if I was to be on the road to Sedona by 6 p.m. It was just after 11 so I still had some time to explore. I probably wouldn’t make it down to the Hermit Creek at 7.8 miles down, maybe I’d make it 5 miles down.
It was a beautiful partly cloudy day with a nice breeze and temperatures in the mid 80’s.
At one point I was contemplating hiking down to the Campsite or even the Colorado River, then waiting to drive to Sedona the following day. I ended up turning around at Lookout Point and heading back up the trail.
When I come back to the Grand Canyon I will make it a point to take the Hermit Trail down to the bottom of the canyon and camp out for a couple of nights. This trail was becoming a favorite of mine, and one that I’ll re-visit.
I tried running most of the way back up the trail, but on some sections of the trail, it becomes difficult to run due to its ruggedness. I was ok with that, as it gave me a chance to soak in the beauty of the canyon on my last day here.
The Hermit trail is much more remote than the other trails I was on. In total I encountered two people on the trail. I stopped to talk to one guy who was French, spent most of his life living in London, and currently works and lives in the Bahamas. It was his first time in the Grand Canyon and he was there for 2 days to photograph the amazing beauty of the Canyon. In my 3 short days in the Canyon I’ve had the opportunity to meet some very interesting people from all corners of the globe.
I made it up to the top of the rim by 5 p.m at which time I would grab a shower and hit the road to Sedona, hopefully by 6.
The darker clouds started moving in toward the end of the day with winds gusting across the trail. It was a wonderful sight and the end to an amazing three days in the Grand Canyon and one amazing adventure. It was time to head to the red rock region of Sedona. It was one memorable adventure at the Grand Canyon and I hope to come back someday soon!!