So let’s look at this picture below for a second:

Is that a beautiful sight or what?

Now look really far over there to the right of the picture.  See that kind of triangle-shape?  Behind it, way in the distance are some switchbacks from the very top.  You can’t really see them in this picture, gosh dang it, but they’re there so just imagine.

We came from there.  That’s the South side.  And ended up in the spot where I took that picture on the North rim.  There’s a much higher elevation climb going up the North rather than the South so it was tough I tell you.  25.2 miles of sheer beauty and hard work.  Legs like jell-o.  Hearts swollen up with the grandeur of this earth we get to live in.  And with gratitude.

Lots and lots of gratitude.

So let’s talk about that gratitude for a minute.

First of all, to spend a whole day looking at things like this cannot be half bad, right?

But then there are these people too.

So grateful for them, especially that one with the Nike hat on the right because she put this whole shin-dig together.

And told me to hydrate and fuel well for days in advance.

And pushed me on a few hikes to get ready.

And has done this before so she knew exactly what to do and what we’d need.

That whole group except for the one in the front had done rim-to-rim before so they are pretty much experts.

In fact, see that guy in the back right?  Well, he’s done rim-to-rim-TO-RIM in ONE DAY for crying out loud.

So we were in good company.

I had a lot of gratitude for this guy too:

Because honestly he could hike circles around me, and he loves a good competition and to be pushed, yet he hung with me and helped me get through the toughest part.

I love him.

Ok, so let’s back up to the morning.  Or actually the day before because we were madly trying to throw things together after the last day of school…one pack to take across with us, one for the North rim we were sending with another couple who was meeting us there, one for the south, one for Memorial Day weekend we were heading to straight after and getting the girls all packed up for that since they were heading up with cousins to meet us there…phew, it felt good to get in the car and GO.

We got to the South Rim on Wednesday night, had a good meal with our group and headed to bed at the Red Feather Lodge which was kind of cool because Dave’s grandparents used to manage that place back in the day.

Slept awful because I always do before something like this, woke up at 4:45 and met up with our friends for the real-deal.

 …And then it began:

 All this beauty.

For miles and miles.

We took the Bright Angel Trial down.

 In the beginning we hiked like ducks all in a row.

 …but throughout the day we spanned larger and smaller with different groups.

And passed stuff like this:

 …and this:

 It was so green in some spots!

 …and so desert in others.

 This was all the descent.

 See all those switchbacks we were heading down to?

 Yeah, lots of trail to cover!

 …and tons of switchbacks.

 We loved that these flowers popped up occasionally through the desert part at the bottom.

 A little view of the path:

 LOVED hitting the Colorado River at the bottom.

 …and walking along it for a while.

We had come down from here:


 Crossed over that thing…

 …and got to Phantom Ranch where we ate lunch…

…and mailed some postcards to our kids.

Then it was off again while the sun got hotter:

…through a place called “The Box” because it is hot and goes for miles at a small incline…and is a desert:

Two of the couples from our group went and hit this waterfall:

 I went half-way, but turned back to meet the group since I knew I’d need all the energy I could get to get up the North side.

But I loved seeing their pictures:

And some day I’ll put in the extra mile or two to hit that beauty too.

Looking back:

…and looking forward:

The “experts” on our hike told me that going from South to North (which is what we did), it is 8 miles down and sixteen up.  Much of the “up” is just a small incline, but the last 5.5 miles is pretty much straight up.
And I’m talking, really straight up with short switchbacks the whole way. 
At this point I was extra glad for these poles my friend encouraged me to use.

They take a lot of work out of your knees and hips and I was so grateful for them!

This straight-up North side was just Dave and me.
We saw this gorgeous waterfall across the way up above us: 

 And within a couple miles we were looking way down on it.

Looking ahead I had no idea how we were going to get out of that thing!

Luckily I had this handsome coach telling me it was a mind game and I could do it:

 Can you see those tiny little switchbacks down below?

 An “easy” part going up:

 Looking back to more of the switchbacks…can you see that teeny little path back there?


 And finally to a stopping ground where we could take it all in…

 …with these guys who were waiting for us:

That last .7 miles was pretty dang tough, Kristine and I stuck together waiting and waiting for that last switchback.

And then we were done.

We had been on that trail for nearly ten hours.  Such an amazing way to spend a day.

We had to hitch hike from there (after glorying in that view for a little bit) over to the Grand Canyon Lodge.
Which was pretty cool because Dave’s Grandparents managed that too at different times.  
That is the coolest place.
I love this dining area.
And the view?
Oh boy!

We had to wait in our spent hiking gear for a while because the couple driving up to meet us with our overnight stuff got a flat tire (in our car, whoops), and were a little late.  But it was pretty awesome to soak in that view for as long as we could.

…before having dinner with our whole group in that grand dining room, and sleeping in bunk beds in this cute little cabin:

 The couple who came to meet us headed back to the South rim with our group bright and early the next morning while Dave and I hung out…

 …had breakfast with this view:

 And then headed off to meet up with his family.

Part of me was SO HAPPY time didn’t permit us to do the other rim-to-rim with everyone else…one way was plenty and part of me ached for those who were going again the next day.

But the other part of me…just a teeny tiny part…wished I could go with them and add to that adventure.

There’s always next year 🙂

Dave and I had a great six-hour drive to meet up with our kids and his family up in the mountains for the Memorial Day adventure that afternoon.  All about that last post (here).

It was a Grand day hiking that Grand.  One we sure won’t forget!


  1. These pictures are gorgeous. I can see why you felt so much gratitude. You have inspired me, thank you! What tips do you have for training, eating, equipment… Is this why you were doing no sugar? I would love to hear more. 🙂

    1. We could have done a lot better on the training thing. We mostly just tried to drink a ton the few days before the hike, took some longer hikes before we went, took along some electrolyte powder to mix into our water, and borrowed our friend's poles at the last minute (from Costco). The no-sugar thing was just something we did that was unrelated for the month of March, not related to the hike, but man alive, I think it sure does a body good to stay away from as much refined sugar as possible! I'm trying to figure out something long-term to keep that in check.

  2. Well done to all of you.

    Just curious, what were the temperatures like & how did you cope in the heat? (I don't cope with hot weather at all!)

    1. It was pretty warm! Low nineties. It was better than the weather here in the desert though! We just worked on staying hydrated, a couple of the couples got soaked in the waterfall, and we brought these scarf things that you could get wet in the cold river and wrap around your neck to keep your body temp down.

    1. Yes! I'm trying to figure out if we should make this a yearly tradition…or maybe every other year. But wondering if we should try the Fall next time to see a different season.

  3. Oh my!!!! Great pictures and post!!! Almost 3 years ago my daughter moved to Phoenix and I was able to go to the Grand Canyon for the first and second and third time ever. (: I love it there. My sister-in-law is also from there and has suggested we do rim to rim. After reading your post, I am more anxious than ever to do it now. Definitely has been moved to the top of my bucket list. PS. I did Camelback (the hard trail) last year and thought I was going to die…on the way down….but loved every minute of it. ~ Kathy White

  4. Wow, what a great adventure, loved the pictures, you make me want to take up hiking!!! Love reading your blog Shawni, keep it up. I hope to see your folks at Ed Week this year, I try to catch at least one of their classes every time I go.

  5. Oh, man this brings back memories for me! I did the Rim to Rim back in 1999 (North to South), then went back the next year to do it again. There were water contamination issues that year, so we were only able to go from the North Rim, down to the bottom, and back up the North. Not near as fun, but still a huge challenge. We did both of our hikes, during the first weekend in October and it was great!

    Thanks for posting this and bringing back such great memories for me!

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