Butch and Braeden Flew to Phoenix on May 26, 2000, rented a
car and drove to Flagstaff and spent the night there. On Saturday May 27, 2000
we drove to the Grand Canyon South Rim to pick up a ride on the Trans Canyon
Shuttle to the North Rim. The shuttle leaves daily and transports people from
rim to rim. The drive take 4.5 hours.
First Braeden and I went exploring around Grand Canyon village and took the West Rim Shuttle for a 1.5 hour excursion. The highlight of this trip was seeing the California Condors soaring along side the tram as they glided effortlessly in the thermals rising up from the canyon walls.
At 0130PM our shuttle driver(David) picked 8 of us up in front of the Bright Angel lodge and we headed for the North rim. David got us there in 3hr 50mins and we got to see some of the scars left by the huge forest fire the Park Service started a couple of weeks earlier.
Braeden and I headed down the North Kaibab Trail at 0530PM for the first part of our rim to rim hike which was 14.2 miles to The Phantom Ranch.
After about two miles we came to the Tunnel that had been carved out of the sandstone and proceeded on toward Roaring Springs.
Roaring springs is 5 miles from the rim and very steep. We saw many hikers heading up as late as 0700PM with easily 3 hours of hard hiking ahead of them. Sunset was at 0730PM and it gets dark very fast in the canyon.
Just above Roaring springs we ran into a party of 5 and one member was suffering heat stroke. They had rehydrated her but she was still unable to move and they determined they needed medical help. We knew there was a ranger at Cottonwood camp ground so we offered any help we could then headed for the ranger shack to notify them of the medical emergency back up the trail. We got to the ranger shack at 0745PM and reported the situation.
NOTE: I called the back country desk Tuesday and they said there had been no fatalities since May 15 on that trail so she was probably air lifted out OK.
It was now getting dark and Braeden and I had 5.5 miles to go before Phantom Ranch and crossing the Colorado river and starting up toward the south rim.
We were somewhere between the ranger shack and the back country camp ground on the trail when we suddenly came upon a 3 foot rattlesnake!
The snake was on the edge of trail and was Rattling very loudly as me and Braeden went jumping and flying in opposite directions. We turned the flashlights on it and the snake started to crawl back into the rocks and brush.
From that point on Braeden led!( I actually had something wrong with my vision. I couldn't see being bitten first.) and we walked a whole lot slower and were very tense shinning the flashlights down the middle of the trail and then to the sides.
We met some Backpackers who were staying at Cottonwood campground and they warned us they had seen a snake earlier at Ribbons Falls which was up ahead of us. This made matters worse and we kept slowly moving, dreading the Ribbons Falls junction. We came to the Ribbons Falls signpost and did not see or hear any snakes so we felt pretty good but as it turned out there were two more Ribbons Falls signposts and we didn't know which one they had seen the snake at. As we continued in the dark toward Phantom Ranch we came to a spot where the trail had been obliterated by Beavers building dams. We wandered thru the reeds and mud in the small beaver mess and we could hear things moving all around us and water splashing as we searched for the trail. Braeden did an amazing job of leading us thru the Beaver ponds and finally we were back on the trail. Because we had pushed straight thru to the ranger station we never took a break and then after seeing the snake we were scared to stop along the trail so our first break finally came at 11:00PM in the middle of a bridge that crossed over Bright Angel creek. We figured no snake would be out on the bridge? good logic huh.
We hadn't seen a snake in 3 hours so we were feeling a little more confident and started moving faster when all of a sudden there was another Rattle snake against the canyon wall on a narrow part of the trail. Braeden sprang forward and I moved back. We heard the snake shaking its rattles and then shined our lights on it. I told Braeden to get out of the way because I was planning on making a running, flying, leaping charge past the snake.
It was an amazing sight to see me flying thru the air, all the dust and ground shaking probably unnerved the snake pretty bad and he had a horrifying tale to tell about this huge thing flailing by him in the middle of the night.
The next 2 miles to Phantom Ranch were very tense. We passed thru Phantom Ranch about 12:45AM and moved on, badly needing a rest. We decided to rest on the large suspension bridge that crosses the Colorado river before starting up the Bright Angel Trail for our last 10 miles to the South Rim.
The temperature was 85 degrees and had been averaging 106 during the day. Out on the Bridge there was a nice breeze and the roar of the river blocked out the sounds of weird things scurrying about in the bushes so we finally felt at ease laying there and looking up at the stars. Braeden fell asleep and for some reason I felt that we would have less to worry about on the second part of the trip and was able to relax.
We took off for Indian Gardens a little before 0200AM and got to Indian Gardens about 0400AM where we rested.
We headed up and reached the top at 0715Am. 13 hours 49 minutes after we started. I consumed 5 Qts of gatoraid, 8 Cliff bars and one roll of breath mints.