Day 6 – Final Day in Grand Canyon – Thankful for Rain

“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery–air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.”
— Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

April 18 – Phantom/Crystal Creek Loop
Above Phantom Creek to South Rim via Bright Angel Trail

What a great day! Casual, stress-free, cool weather, gentle rain, stunning views, and lots of gear questions on the Bright Angel Trail by passing hikers. Doesn’t get better.

We headed down to Phantom Ranch and all of us promptly dunked into the stream, drank a ton of water, visited with other guests at the ranch about hikes, gear, and knee problems. Our group then headed out to hike up 4, 314 feet on the Bright Angel Trail to end our trip on the South Rim.

Just as we began the steep ascent up, wind and rain clouds moved in. Magic.

On top of that, quite a few hikers stopped and asked about my small pack, how much it weighted, what was in it, and how long/where we had been. They also asked about our Dirty Girl Gaiters and where to get them. I LOVE conversations that lead to a more positive and safer experience in the outdoors. Dan is always very quick to mention this blog and that has all the information they need. We also stopped and talked to a few day-hiker families about taking their kids out more and how to do that. I just love watching faces drop when you tell them, ” Yes I have a tent, yes I carry a stove, and yes I have a comfortable sleeping mat.” The conversations often lead to my poles and why I use them. Lots of hikers have a difficult time descending into the Grand Canyon and come away with knee pain.

Although I would NOT recommend a cross-country hike in the Grand Canyon, I would highly recommend many of the trails the national park offers.

I learned a lot on this trip about myself, how to work together, the importance of a good sense of humor, getting a good plan, and trusting your team mates.

We set out to test some new gear on this trip. Here are my thoughts:

Gossamer Gear Gorilla – Loved the volume size, comfort of the shoulder straps, and durability (held up nicely after being hoisted up many a chimney). One suggestion is that the back length of the pack be a bit shorter (I am 5’2′). I am hoping Gossamer Gear will someday make an x-small size pack.
ZPacks Duoplex cuben tent – So far so good. We do need to get the hang of setting it up for storms.
Viewranger GPS app – Worked perfectly.
Golite Crome Dome Umbrella – This by far was the star of our trip with the hands-free bungee attachment on our pack,.
Sawyer Squeeze Mini – Worked and I recommend buying a 2 liter bladder instead of the small sizes that come with the filter.
Cascadia 9 trail runners – Very grippy, supportive, and so comfortable.
iPhone 5s with Lifeproof case (Lifeproof coupon) – So finally I have an iPhone that actually DOES have a longer battery life. The 5s is a huge upgrade over the 5 as far as battery life.
Smartwool toesocks – I wore huge holes on my big and small toes. I just don’t think they were thick enough to handle the rough environment.
Sea to Summit long spork  – Another star of the trip. It has a great angle, length, is strong, and so light.

There ya have it. Hope everyone is having a beautiful Easter week and enjoying the outdoors.

Scotland is just 2 weeks away!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Panorama from Campsite
Phantom Creek at Phantom Ranch
Bridge over the Colorado River
Colorado River
Bright Angel Trail
Storm over North Side of Grand Canyon
Incoming Storm Over Bright Angel Trail
Layers of the Grand Canyon
Thankful for this Day


  1. Hi! Love your pics and descriptions. Looking to do Phantom Creek /crystal ceeek loop on October. Any chance you have a mileage breakdown of your itinerary, looking to compare. Thanks so much for any ingot you could pass along

  2. Hi Nancy;-) First off, great website you got here. First impression is the lovely user-friendly layout along with some beautiful pics! Very pleased to hear you made it out of the Grand Canyon in one piece! Great work.

  3. Just found this site from a tweet by the editor of TGO magazine & I’m loving your adventures. I’m from Glasgow and have hiked & travelled extensively throughout Scotland & I have to agree with previous comments regarding midges….head net is essential! Your route takes in some seriously remote areas, all stunningly beautiful. I will be following your progress, have a great trip!

    • So glad to hear. We tried to plan a trip that would pass through wild places, climb mountains, and visit towns along the way. Sounds like we will be very lucky indeed. Thank you for posting.

  4. Beautiful photos – glad your hike ended on such a positive note!

  5. Kurt Neuswanger

    Having backpacked the Kaibab and Bright Angel trails in 2012, I was interested to read about your experience.

    I’m curious about a number of things:

    –Your gear list didn’t mention sleeping bag or pad. Did you take the ZPacks bag and Neoair?
    –How much did your pack weigh full at the start of the trip? Did you carry all your food, or resupply at Phantom Ranch?
    –How did you upload your blog from the bottom of the canyon? Did you really have cell service? Or did you use a satellite device?
    –Have you tried Backcountry Navigator? How do you think it compares to Gaia GPS?

    Your brush with near disaster on Shiva Saddle makes me think of all the warnings by the Park Service about the dangers of the canyon. In hindsight, do you think you (or your friend Arrow) badly misjudged the difficulty of the ridges you scaled? What would you have done differently?

    Situations like this are good learning opportunities, for yourself, and for the rest of us who would be wise to heed the cautionary tale. Granted, you could have survived a night without water, but many people have run out of water in 100 degree heat and not returned to tell their stories, as you know! (When I went in October, it was 45F at the rim, and 99F at the river.)

    • Kurt,
      Great questions. Let me try to answer.
      Our Grand Canyon gear list was very similar to my Continental Divide trip. Our packs weighted complete about 20 pounds with 6 days of food and 2 liters of water, Here is that list:
      We carried all our food. I wrote the blog posts at night on my phone using WordPress app as drafts and did not have service to post until after the trip. I spaced the postings out so readers would not be overwhelmed. I have AT&T service, but Sprint and Verizon have service in some areas. I was not lucky with that. I have not used Backcountry Navigator, but I do love Gaia. I am using Viewranger now because they have Ordinance Survey Maps that I will be using in Scotland. Viewranger is nice for plotting a route out online before a trip and syncs very easily between the computer and phone.

      Yes, you should never underestimate the Grand Canyon. It seems everything has consequences that are not pretty with wide varieties of contrast. That is why is is a national park and should be visited. High-sight is hard. We had the ability and equipment, but the risk level is what we were not mentally prepared for. I would love to do a rim-to-rim-to rim hike. The trails are really nice.

      Thank you again for your questions.

  6. Thanks for all the great pictures of the Grand Canyon and your short but challenging hike. We were planning on going to the Grand Canyon this summer and hiking along the rim and the Bright Angel Trail too, but things didn’t work out. Instead we are heading down to the Redwoods National Park just south of Crescent City, CA. Your pictures and hike helped us get through our disappointment for now….still want to go in the near future.

  7. You are such a great mentor and ambassador. So many things to say about this post.
    1. Love the picture of you and hubby.
    2. Glad you like the Gorilla pack. The straps on mine are about 1/2″ wider than on the Mariposa and are giving me neck burn.
    3. My Smartwool toe socks wear in the same places, and I wear a pair of regular socks on top.
    4, What great navigation practice and teamwork test this trip was.
    5. Really looking forward to your Scotland adventure.

    • Hey Beekeeper!
      Gear update:
      1. I can see how the wider straps might hurt, but I am fine with them. I still would like a size ex-small back length for long mile days.
      2. Bought the thicker Smartwool toe socks. I am hoping they will stay semi-stink free. My wool injinji socks really smelled bad after a few days, that is why I always used the Coolmax.
      I am sooooo excited for Scotland.

      • Did you talk to Grant about the xsmall? They just customized one for Carrot and she is raving. You should ask for same.

        • I sure did talk to Grant just a couple days ago and hope to have one for my summer hike. I also talked to Glenn at the PCT Kick-off about offering a shorter back size or at least looking at what other companies are using for a size small. Dan is using my size small Mariposa and he is 5’8″!

          • I also had same conversation plus talked about strap width and position. 5’8″ Should never be a small unless he has an abnormally short torso. I have the straps nearly taught on mine at 5’4″ with a semi short torso for my height.


    Good mornng, Nancy! It must be crazy at kick off this weekend! Have fun! And so glad you’re going to continue your PCT hike. Thank you for the below email that included “LadyOnARock’s” gear list and comments. Funny . . . I had found her blog on the side of yours a few weeks ago and printed out her gear list. It’s been a big help!   Keep having fun! Hugs, Barb

  9. Cannot wait for your Scottish adventure! I absolutely love Scotland!

  10. Here’s hoping that you need the umbrella for the same reason in Scotland. It’s been a mild winter and a wet spring so reports are that the dreaded Scottish midge could be making an early apperance. One essential piece of kit will be a midge head net. Can make the difference between comfort and missery. I’ve lived in Finland for a few years where the mosquito’s can be terrible, but I can vouch that they have nothing on the Scottish midge. Public enemy number 1 when it comes to annoying insects.

    • Head net and DEET repellent is packed. Thank you for the huge tip.
      I have only heard horror stories about the midge (mosquito) in Scotland. They are even known to be so thick that they can carry a hiker away!

      • The game keepers in Scotland have always sworn by Avon Skin So Soft body spay as the thing which best keeps the midges from biting, and many people swear by it. You’ll find a lot of people packing it.

  11. Thank you for the after hike gear thoughts!

  12. Great set of posts 🙂
    What a contrast Scotland will be after that!

    • Boy howdy it will be! I hope in a good way! Hope your team is getting pain free and so hope to meet you on the crossing! Thank you for posting.

      Readers, Gayle has been doing a huge pre-hike to the start point of the TGO Challenge in Scotland. Check out her blog at: w\
      where she is documenting her trek.

  13. That is a great end shot of you two. Glad you made it safe and looking so happy!

  14. A very ambitious trip and a great report. I hope everyone takes your advice about an off-trail trip in the canyon. You were traveling at an optimum time with experienced hikers who could work out problems together. Scotland will be a cake walk.

  15. what are your thoughts on the “Skyscape” tent you used on CDT? Notice it was no longer with you

  16. Thanks for the adventure I followed along each day. Day 2 was quite exciting, I was glad to learn a few lesson from your experience. Looking forward to your Scottish adventure.

    • I am glad I can new tell stories and reflect back about it. We still all have a lot of questions though like…could we have taken a better route? if so where was it?

      Right now most of my scraps and cuts from rock and cactus has healed, the food dehydrator has been running a few days and today we are packing our resupply boxes for Scotland. It is going to be epic.

      Thanks for following along.

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