A Night-Hike on the South Kaibab Trail

This is the first installment of a Rim to Rim to Rim backpacking trip across the Grand Canyon.

This first day was a full-moon-night-hike of the entire length of the South Kaibab Trail, to the bottom of the Grand Canyon at Bright Angel Campground. It was a Monday night, and after watching my hometown Philadelphia Eagles play the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football, a friend drove me to the trailhead.

The reasoning behind this night-hike was twofold. First, I only had two days off of work to do this rim to rim to rim hike. Secondly, the full moon fell on this night, and the open nature of the South Kaibab Trail had me hoping that the greater length of the path would be “in the light.” I was also hoping to see some tarantulas and scorpions – two cool desert creatures that had escaped my detection thus far.

I began at 10pm. The elk rut season was fully underway, and I could hear their bugling calls at the trailhead. The dark woods echoed with this sound.

These images aren’t truly representative of my night photography. They’re just simple snapshots with a pocket camera.


Below Cedar Ridge it was easy to hike without a headlamp. I could now clearly see the ground at my feet, as well as the big wide Canyon all around me, under the light of the full moon.

O’Neill Butte

more moonshadows

more O’Neill Butte

The light visible on the horizon is the lodge at the North Rim.

I took a nice long break at the Tipoff before continuing down to the campground. My snacks for this hike included three hot dogs purchased at the Yavapai cafeteria earlier this evening, and two cans of Coke.

Some clouds began to move in, some time after midnight.

One of my favorite anecdotes (Maybe a tall tale?) told by a park ranger involves a hiker standing on the black bridge in the middle of the night. The hiker felt the bridge sway and thought nothing of it, assuming it was the wind. Suddenly a mountain lion brushed past him, just inches away from his legs! I guess mountain lions have to cross the river, too.

On the north side of river, near the old Anasazi ruins, I was in the company of some of some deer for a few minutes. These were the only wildlife I saw for the entire length of tonight’s hike. There were no sightings of any cool, elusive scorpions or tarantulas! Rats.

Bright Angel Campground must have been full, because I had an interesting but successful time trying to locate a vacant campsite at 2am without disturbing anybody.