We climbed up some scaffolding steps seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Up they twisted. From the top of this fire lookout tower, a mere 7 miles from the park, we could see the hole in the ground. It is very large. The snow on the North Rim sparkled.
* We’ve made it to the Grand Canyon village
* My feet are not in great shape — changing shoes was a bad idea
* Just 100-ish miles and a semi-technical route to go
We left Flagstaff and began to climb. After some time, we hit snow. The added weight from attaching snowshoes to our packs almost began to make sense.
I convinced our group to “slackpack” the 10-mile urban route through Flagstaff during our “Zero” in Flag. This resulted in us leaving our backpacking gear at our AirBnB and taking a short 10-mile, somewhat off-trail, route through snow and mud to get picked up at a road. It turned out that the road we aimed to get picked up from was closed due to snow, so we had to roadwalk back down trail another 3 miles. Tangent informed me that “Zeroes with Peaches have been some of the hardest days on trail”
Flagstaff was great! We managed to secure snowshoes for the North Rim for our entire group, finish our resupply, and grab dinner and beers with Darwin (a “celebrity” from the YouTube thru-hiker world) before heading back to our AirBnB.
In the morning we got dropped off at the road that we slackpacked to, and had about 6 miles of pleasant trail before we switched to snowshoes. Exactly 10 miles of snowshoeing later the snow ended. 10 miles after that we were sweltering in an oak grassland with absolutely no snow in site. It’s hard to convey the magic of this trail — the sudden change in landscapes every 10-to-20 miles makes this such a unique and wild hiking experience.
In addition to snowshoes, I picked up a new pair of shoes with really sticky soles. I figured these shoes would dramatically improve safety for the semi-technical route we will be taking from the South Rim to the North Rim of the Canyon. However, this change in footwear has resulted in some gnarly blisters, which I am not thrilled about. Good thing I only have 100 miles left, a good chunk of which is snowshoeing. Who needs blister-free heels anyway? The Italian ravioli (AKA pop tarts) I have been eating have been nourishing my soul, which surely makes up for my blistered soles.
Our group has been traveling well together, although this has been the most socialization I have ever had while hiking. I am really looking forward to finishing the trail and getting some much needed rest for my weary bones.
With love and adventure,
Notice about safety: Allie has information for the semi-technical route I’ve pulled together, and will have almost real-time tracking for us. We are going into the Canyon starting on the 26th, doing the route on the 27th, and will be outside the park boundary on the north rim by the 28th. You should receive a nightly check-in from me somewhere near/along the route, and we should be finishing the AZT a few days after. The route should be mostly below class 3, and fairly safe given our experience and skill level.