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Grand Canyon Backpacking Trip -- November 15, 2015

November  15
Rain on I-40 eastbound

Day 0. Sunday -- Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim

Departing fairly early, Liz and I closed up the house, gave the cat a last scratch behind the ears, and headed for the Grand Canyon. The day was cool and mostly cloudy, but except for some heavy rain near Seligman, the weather was fine for our five-hour journey.

Upon arrival at the South Rim, we secured a site in Mather Campground and headed out to investigate trail conditions. We intended to hike down the South Kaibab Trail, so we parked at the visitor center and caught the shuttle bus to Yaki Point.

November  15
Warning sign at South Kaibab Trailhead

About the time we arrived at the Grand Canyon, it started snowing, and out at Yaki Point, the ice-encrusted sign read: Trail may be Icy. True it was, but people were going down and coming up, so we figured we could get down in the morning.

We then went to the Backcountry Office to check on our permit and current trail conditions, all of which were fine, but we learned of a wind advisory for the next day with winds of 40+ mph expected on the narrow ridges along the South Kaibab Trail -- Yikes! At least there was some chance that the storm would pass in the night and the morning would be clear and sunny.

November  15
Liz at South Kaibab Trailhead before the storm

In the blustery cold, we decided to eat an early dinner in the Bright Angel Lodge rather than at the campground. After dinner, we walked along the rim towards the El Tovar Hotel as the sun set around 4:30 PM and the darkness began to close during these short days of winter. Dark-eyed Juncos and Western Bluebirds hastily scratched among fallen leaves looking for tasty morsels to fill their bellies as the cold of a long night approached, and we visited the warm Verkamp's Visitor Center where the Park Service has done a nice job of reviewing cultural history at the South Rim.

Back at the campground, the ground was white with about an inch of snow covering everything, but the sky was clear (foretelling a cold night) and we hoped that the snow storm had passed. Retiring to a warm nest in the back of our van, we settled in for a long night anticipating an early start to our morning backpack. The winds blew hard during the night, but a 3 AM bathroom trip confirmed clear sky, the wind had died, and we had no new snow.

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
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