Day 1 – Grand Canyon Extremes

Nothing is safe here.
~ Dan

April 14 – Phantom/Crystal Creek Loop
Grand Canyon National Park South Kaibab Trail Head to Below Cheops/Isis Saddle

No matter how many times I have visited the Grand Canyon, the first glance over the edge is a scary, humbling moment that takes my breath away. Everyone should experience it at least once in a lifetime.

We got an early start at the South Kaibab trail head and descended quickly through the geological layers. After a quick break at the first restroom stop (there are 3 on the way down), a fun group of ladies were coming up the trail from a backpack trip. They started asking me about my small pack and our trip itinerary. I gladly started rattling off some of my favorite gear choices and all the advantages of going lighter. One of the ladies asked if I had a blog and made the connection with Lady on a Rock! Turns out Stephanie is from Colorado and follows the blog. She is dreaming of solo hiking the JMT and is working on getting her pack weight down. It was so inspiring talking gear with engaged female hikers.

After getting water and some snacks at Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, a ranger stopped Dan to let us know that at 11:00 tonight is a Lunar Eclipse. We agreed to set an am arm and enjoy the show.

Our route then ascended steeply to Utah Flats leaving the established trail behind.

Soon after, the heat and fields of cacti to navigate through began.

To get to our next and last water source for many miles, we descended 1000 feet down on a very slippery slope to Phantom Creek. It was scary. Every step in the Grand Canyon has dire consequences. Either exposure that will send a hiker to sure death or one of the many spiky plants ready to impale a body.

After loading up on 5 liters of water, eating dinner, and cooling off in the small pools of the creek we decided to get a head start on the next day by camping on the Cheops/Isis Saddle. The saddle proved to be gorgeous and dramatic, but was narrow with a 1000 feet of exposure on both sides. Dan hiked ahead to find a camp without cacti and sharp rocks.

We are settled in for the night with a faint sparkle in the distant darkness from the South Rim in anticipation of the Lunar Eclipse. Can’t think of a better place to be.

Dan, Rockin', and Arrow - S. Kaibab Trail
Dan, Rockin’, and Arrow – S. Kaibab Trail
View of Route We will be Following on the North Side
Rockin' and Stephanie
Rockin’ and Stephanie
Walking through Cacti
Walking through Cacti
Utah Flats
Utah Flats
Phantom Creek
Phantom Creek
Cheops/Isis Saddle
Cheops/Isis Saddle
Sunset from Cheops/Isis Saddle
Sunset from Cheops/Isis Saddle


  1. <3

  2. Fun to talk gear and connect with Stephanie. Thanks to mentors such as yourself, I’m happy to report my pack weight on my last trip with 2 liters of water and 3 days of food was 22lbs. Such a process, but so worth it. Made the miles so much more enjoyable. I in turn was able to pass on my knowledge to a couple of others on the trip who are just beginning to learn the lessons.

    • Yaaaaaaaaaaaaay great weight savings. It is an ongoing process. Between obtaining new skills and different gear, it is a win win.

      Meeting and talking with Stephanie was the highlight of our trip for Dan. I just loved the enthusiasm on all the ladies faces. It was the end of their trip, so it was prime time to talk how to be more comfortable but safe backpacking. So much fun.

  3. Way Cool Trip! Nice photos!

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