Hike #48 – Tusayan Trailhead to South Kaibab – 22.5 miles

Location : Tusayan Trailhead (NOBO Mile Marker 684)

Date: July 31rd 2018

Weather: Clear skies at the TH, some later Thunderstorms and clouds, starting temperature 68 degrees and at the turn around it was 85 degrees.

Total Mileage Completed : 22.5 on AZT

Hike Description: This hike started at the Tusayan Trailhead, just north of the little town of Tusayan Arizona. Starting elevation is 6,656ft and the hike was to be a 22.5-mile out and back hike flip flopping back to Hike #46’s starting point and then turning back north all the way to the Grand Canyon and the South Kaibab Trailhead.


Back to the GC with our heavy full pack, Tom and I arrived at the Tusayan trailhead around 8:30am. Not a bad morning drive and with the trailhead right off of highway 180, it made the adventure a little less stressful.  Pull up park and hike J

This hike was to be a little bit of a flip flop going southbound about 4.5 miles to the starting section of hike #46 and connection of our day-hiking sections. The morning was hot and the sun was out in full force. Getting back to the Jeep at mile 9 gave the false sense of near completion for the day….. but oh no, there was more hiking to do. Passing the car we now headed straight north into the real Grand Canyon National Park. Please note, you’ll need your annual national park pass even just to hike into the park. To my surprise, shortly after the trailhead the nice smooth dirt trail turned into a paved uphill path…. Yes…. A blacktop paved path is now the AZT and it just hands down sucked. Hiking over 800 miles on mainly dirt and rocks, this paved path actually hurt and the dammed thing, more or less, was to be with us for the next 11 miles. Yuck… and to add, it was a rolling uphill gain and hot blacktop!!!! So, I have found, in my hiking travels, that massive elevation gains in a short distance are actually not horrible. It’s like going upstairs, a lot of stairs but the pressure on your muscles and feet are not too bad. A gradual uphill gradient on paved road, jeep road or paved trail on the other hand, seems to burn my calves and really punish my feet.  The elevation gain for the entire hike was really nothing, plus / minus 1100 ft but that paved path just wore on me. Also, guess what…… you’re in the Grand Canyon National park now, which means… tourists and campers and families with bikes. All on that silly paved path. Tom and I looked a little out of place with our, stinky shirts, monster packs, trekking poles and sun hats. Some of the bikers were just plain rude also. Racing teenager kids, not the kind, cool bikepackers that chat with you and share the trail. Nope, these were trail hogging road mongers that would run your ass down if you did not move out of the way…. Oh well, hiking the AZT is a lot better than being at the office, I guess…. At about mile 13 we did get a little down pour from a thunderstorm which cooled us off and shaded our sun baked heads for a little bit. I was trying out a wicker sun hat on this hike as a test for the upcoming R3 (Rim to Rim to Rim) hike but it quickly became a big “no go”…. Rain came right through it and then the sun cooked it and then it fell apart.  Sorry Hobo Hat, I will never think of another hat ever again…

The trail did take us back into the forest and off the path for a little while as we crossed the road just south of the South Kaibab Trailhead.  Reaching the trailhead, we quickly became the center of attention for all the shuttle tourists and day hikers at the parking lot. We got stares and even a couple questions from the onlookers. Are you guys heading down to the river? Did you just come out? With our big packs and my sleeping roll tied to the top of my pack, it made sense why we became miniature celebrities.  Kicking back enjoying an apple with views of the GC in front of us, we gazed at awesomeness and began to wonder, what will it be like down there… I guess we will find out soon.

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