Ok, so this one is going to be really long trip report. We hiked Grand Canyon and Zion last month for a week – let me tell you – that was an action-packed week! As I learned many things from TA forums, I wish other ppl may learn from my experiences, too. It was me and one of my friends – only two of us adventure-loving ‘geeks’ travelling there…so many things may sound like crazy!!
Day1: 05/04 - We got on to a flight to LAS, after spending a night at JFK. As it was an early morning flight, we took mid-night train from NJ and used our sleeping bags at the airport! That was a good ‘crazy’ start. Rented SUV from Budget…and man, I love them! They handed us over a brand new santa fe with only 700 miles on it! We drove to Page-AZ as soon as we got the car; bought some camping food, solid fuel and water on the way from REI. We stayed at Best western, a very good hotel in Page. Our target was watching sunset at the Horse-shoe bend…and we made it well in time. Lesson learned:
 Don’t carry any camping stuff (freeze-dried foods, fuel etc) from east coast (or from anywhere)…rather buy them from REI in vegas.
 Be prepared for wind at the Horseshoe bend, especially if you’re into serious photography, as we were.
Day2: 05/05 - We had the best breakfast ever at any hotel, at Best Western! We took some sauce packets to be used at phantom ranch ;-). We were at lower antelope canyon around 10AM. We choose it over upper canyon b’coz it’s less crowded for pictures without ppl! We thoroughly enjoyed the guided trip, and then started driving towards south rim with detour via Tuba city. I think it took around 3-3.5 Hrs…remember, we had a brand new SUV ;-) We checked in at the Maswick lodge around 6PM and started preparing for our hike down next morning. The weather was really cool and cloudy. I think the night temperature was in lower 40s!! We had booking for breakfast @phantom ranch, for 1 day only. (we were camping for 2 nights at BAC) So we checked if we they have any opening for dinner and/or breakfast for second day. They did not. Then, we called the toll-free number to confirm our breakfast reservation…and we were asked by the lady if we are interested in additional dinner and breakfast for our trip. I was like…really?? I was convinced of two things, that the god exists and the cancelation could happen ‘literary’ till last minute. We were so glad to take out 500g weight from our 25-30lbs backpacks! We also rented hiking poles and sleeping pad from the general store. They are very reasonably priced ($2 per pole per day), and I strongly advice to have them. Lesson learned:
 Carry cash for lower Antelope canyon tours…$26 person, plus tips, if you want to.
 Don’t carry tripod in to the canyon…it’s not worth. You won’t compromise with pictures. (or carry small tripod.)
 If you haven’t reserve meals at phantom ranch, try till last minute to check for any cancelations.
 Don’t carry hiking poles and sleeping pad from your home to Grand Canyon, rather rent from the store. You can even rent sleeping bags, tents, hiking shoes etc. So, don’t buy anything that you’re not going to use in future and just rent it.
Day3: 05/06 – We checked out and took first hiker’s express shuttle to south Kaibab trailhead. We started hiking down around 6:30AM. I don’t have words to express beauty of the SK trail. Morning was cold, but that’s good for hiking. We took our own sweet time to reach phantom ranch around 1PM. We took lots of breaks, lots of pictures and talked to almost everyone whom we met on the way! It’s fun. We got a nice spot on the creek side at brightangel campsite. We had pocket-sized stove and fuel tablets from REI (It works and it’s worth) to prepare our freeze-dried food for lunch. Then we soaked our tired feet in the creek! By the time we came back to the campsite, the squirrels, too, enjoyed ‘our’ lunch. We set up the tent and rested. We attended the ranger-led program that was really awesome. Again, we met so many people from different places with different stories to share!! Lesson learned:
 Be prepared for canyon weather that can be cold or hot or raining. It can change anytime to anything.
 Take 2-4 liters of water per person, depending on the weather.
 Store your food in given containers as soon as you get your campsite - then you can rest. The squirrels are wild and aggressive and always hungry ;-)
Day4: 05/07 – My friend was tired, so he did not want to do another hike and choose to rest, rather. We were booked for 5AM breakfast. The breakfast was really awesome! Then, I started to hike towards Ribbons fall. That day was cloudy, so I had my poncho on me. For those one-way 6 miles, I met only 3 hikers on the way! Even though I was alone, I didn’t feel that I was lonely. I had entire canyon to myself!! Birds singing, sound of running water and the grandeur of nature’s creation was accompanied me thru out! Ribbons fall are beautiful and worth hiking, if you’re fit enough. The trail is relatively very flat, not much of steep hiking there. While coming back, I met a couple from Florida, so we hiked together. We returned to the campsite by 4PM after long 12 miles! We strolled by the river beach and the bridges, took some more pictures. We saw plenty of wildlife at phantom ranch – including a river crane! Well, deer were so common, like cows we had on the road back in the India ;-) That day, we had reservation for dinner…and again I was so glad to have it! I posted some postcards with ‘Mailed by Mule’ stamp to my family in NJ and in India, too! It was raining really hard with wind, and also some hailing…yes, hailing at phantom ranch in May! Lesson learned:
 Be on time for breakfast at phantom ranch canteen.
 There is a short-cut to the Ribbon fall just before the “Ribbon fall via bridge” sign. If you take left fork just when you see this sign, you have to cross the creek to go the falls – and you don’t have to go over a real steep portion of the hike.
 Hike with someone, if you have option. It’s fun!
 Watch out for rattlesnakes. Keep your ears open, along with your eyes. We encountered a pink rattlesnake. (Many ppl, and a ranger, at campsite thought we were very lucky to see a pink rattlesnake!) Don’t worry, there are almost 0 cases reported for snake-bites, compare to 700 cases of squirrel-bites.
Day5: 05/08 – After another filling breakfast, we took BrightAngel trail towards Indian Gardens. We planned to break our journey by staying a night at Indian Garden campsite. Again, the trail is beautiful with lots of views of the river and the canyons. It has lots of shade, compare to SK trail. We started at 8AM and reached around 12:30PM to the campsite. After lunch and some rest, we headed to the Plateau point for sunset. We carried our dinner with us to enjoy there! Now, Plateau point is “THE” place for sunset. We also saw a condor really closely at the plateau point!! It was H9 condor…so just for records – condor #H9 is alive happy and healthy ;-) Lesson learned:
 Travel light to the phantom ranch. You have to carry out anything-n-everything you carry in. e.g. I could have taken out some wrappers from food, disposable toothbrush etc. rather than carrying them in and out of the canyon.
Day6: 05/09 – Is that it? The end of our trip was coming near…we started final hike to the south rim around 8AM from Indian Gardens. After those long, never ending switchbacks, we emerged out of the canyon to the rim around 1PM. By that time, I was already taking pain-killer for my right-side knee. And yet, I did not want to leave the canyons behind…I wished to stay there; rather go back to the depth of this beauty. But we had to say good-bye, as we had to drive all the way to Springdale that afternoon…I told you that ours was a crazy trip ;-) Lesson learned:
 I learned to appreciate what the nature has given to us selflessly, unconditionally!! In return, what we are doing with it?
 Also, after lots of hard work and no shower for 3 days – I learned to appreciate civilization and whatever the god has given to me!
In the end, I have visited GC 4 times in last eight years, now. But that was the first time I did hike into the canyon. If you really want to enjoy the canyons – do the hike!
(I’m gonna post remaining part of the trip report under ZION forum…so stay tuned ;-)