ADVENTURE 004: BACKPACKING THE GRAND CANYON'S NORTH RIM

A couple weeks ago, we had the opportunity to spend a week exploring the Grand Canyon. Originally, we sought out a permit along the main rim to rim trail, leaving from the South Kaibab Trailhead and traveling due north along Bright Angel Canyon. This is the most popular way to experience the Grand Canyon in a backcountry setting. It's the way all of the ultra-runners do it, and it obviously attracts countless tourists.

Needless to say we failed to obtain this permit, as this was our first time working through the Grand Canyon's Backcountry Office, and there's a bit of learning curve. BTW, hit us up if you're looking for guidance on obtaining permits and we can help you avoid some (but not all) of the faxing and headaches. 

So, we called an audible and decided on something a little more remote, namely, the Deer Creek, Thunder River Loop, and we couldn't have been more impressed. Thanks for the reccomendation, Jim! As the photos below will show this was much more remote and minimally trafficked, while also serving as a more technically challenging hike. 

We'll forgo walking you through the trip leg by leg as there's plenty of good blog posts out there (see: Backpacker Magazine's writeup and the REI Co-Op blog post). As a quick summary, this loop will take you past steep slot canyons, epic water falls, clear blue swimming holes, beach campsites, and of course, no shortage of unbelievable canyon views. 

Now for the photos...

Car camping before the hike in. You can drive right up to the edge, no permit required.

Car camping before the hike in. You can drive right up to the edge, no permit required.

Beginning our hike down into the Canyon, which unfolds much more gradually here, without losing any of its dramatic effect.

Beginning our hike down into the Canyon, which unfolds much more gradually here, without losing any of its dramatic effect.

The edge of the Esplanade and our first glimpse of the Colorado River off in the distance.

The edge of the Esplanade and our first glimpse of the Colorado River off in the distance.

Emerging on to the Colorado River at the end of our second day of hiking. Rafters congregate below. Make friends and they may offer you a cold beer. 

Emerging on to the Colorado River at the end of our second day of hiking. Rafters congregate below. Make friends and they may offer you a cold beer. 

A well deserved swim at Deer Creek Falls.

A well deserved swim at Deer Creek Falls.

Our 90 LEFT hats kept us looking somewhat fresh despite not showering for 5 days. Its one of the things they excel at.

Our 90 LEFT hats kept us looking somewhat fresh despite not showering for 5 days. Its one of the things they excel at.

Enjoying a brief bit of sunshine before the rains as we hike from Deer Creek to Lower Tapeats, situated at the Granite Narrows, the narrowest part of the entire Grand Canyon.

Enjoying a brief bit of sunshine before the rains as we hike from Deer Creek to Lower Tapeats, situated at the Granite Narrows, the narrowest part of the entire Grand Canyon.

View from our campsite at Lower Tapeats. The following day we would opt to hike from the canyon floor, up 5,000+ feet to the upper rim, a long but rewarding hike. Cold beers and sopressa being the motivation.

View from our campsite at Lower Tapeats. The following day we would opt to hike from the canyon floor, up 5,000+ feet to the upper rim, a long but rewarding hike. Cold beers and sopressa being the motivation.