From the hotel we followed the paved hiking trail to the Grand Canyon Visitor Center, but it was closed due to lack of staff. So we drove straight to the Backcountry Information Office, where we met Aspen. She raved to us about her tour, and we basically planned the exact same tour, only in reverse.
After planning, we got some food and groceries for the tour at the Grand Canyon Shop, although it was quite expensive. While you can find almost everything there, if you have the option, you’d better plan on a mail drop.
Being a Thruker, it was very easy to get permits for a nice hike in the canyon. Afterwards we went to Mather Campground, where we spent the night for $6 on the Thrukiker site. There we made a campfire with other hikers and drank beer until 10pm, even though we had an early start planned for the next day.
Early in the morning we packed up our tents and took the shuttle bus from Mather Campground to Hermits Rest Trailhead at 5am. From there we hiked the beautiful Hermits Trail to Monument Creek Campground, a distance of only 8 miles (about 13 km). But despite the short distance, it was not an easy, fast hike. Above all, one had to stop again and again to enjoy the view.
The Monument Campground was a little paradise. From there you could follow a small slot canyon that led into the trail down to Grand Rapids. Since we had arrived very early, we made this detour.
From Monument Creek Campground we hiked the West Tonto Trail to Havasupai Campground. The trail was not particularly difficult, but very beautiful. We didn’t see a single person until we arrived at Havasupai Campground. There it felt like we had landed in Disneyland. Due to the close proximity to the very popular Bright Angel Trail, the place was bustling. The campground itself was a beautiful green oasis in the Grand Canyon, and I can well understand why so many people hike here.
We pitched our tents and walked lightly down the Bright Angel Trail to Phantom Ranch. There we met other hikers and spent our time. Then we went back up via the South Kaibab Trail to the East Tonto Trail. From here we came back to our campground. That was 40 km in the Grand Canyon, and luckily we didn’t have to carry all our gear.
From Havasupai Campground it took us 1 hour and 40 minutes to get to the top of the Grand Canyon via the Bright Angel Trail. My parents, who had also planned a tour of the Grand Canyon, picked us up and gave us their perishable food before they started their hike. They also drove us to the post office where I could pick up my supply pack. Only Katie found that she had sent her supply pack to the Visitor Centre in Tusayan.
Then it was off to the little supermarket where we sat for hours charging our batteries and drinking coffee. Then Katie told us about a Facebook post where someone offered to take us to Jacob’s Lake. Originally I had planned to shower and wash my clothes and take an expensive shuttle the next day. But now everything happened very quickly.
We hitchhiked to Tusayan to pick up Katie’s care package. We were also picked up there. Our trail angel turned out to be another thru-hiker from Canada who had the same plans as us: Drive to Jacob’s Lake, go to the North Rim and back to Jacob’s Lake.
We gave her $40 each for gas money, which she hadn’t asked for, because that was still $110 cheaper per person than a shuttle for two.
We arrived in Jacob’s Lake towards evening and immediately set off on the road towards the North Rim. We walked through the night with headlamps until after 10pm to the first place where the trail and the road were close to each other. There we spent the night near a locked toilet facility.