Turns out the Kaibab Trail is a completely different proposition. The trail is anything but flat, you work up a sweat and you're at a very high elevation which makes it hard to catch your breath. Which is why the National Park Service advises that you take salty snacks with you and eat them constantly. Finally, someone has exercise advice that makes sense - they're basically telling you that hiking and eating potato chips go hand in hand. The Kaibab Trail was sounding almost as good as the Kebab Trail!
North Kaibab Trail & Polar Bear Spotting
Do you want to go for a guilt-free walk while eating potato chips, then check out the Kaibab Trail. We started off on the North Kaibab Trail - described as the least visited, but most difficult of the three maintained Grand Canyon trails. You start off 1,000 feet higher than any of the South Rim trails - that's your first clue as to why it is hard. If you're really keen, you can hike all the way down to the Colorado River, but that's 14 miles long with an elevation change of 5,761 feet. Sound almost doable when you're going downhill, but as they warn you, "going downhill is optional, coming back up is mandatory." Needless to say, we just opted to do a small portion of the trail, from the trail head to the Supai Tunnel. A measly 1.7 miles one way and elevation change of only 1,441 feet.
Sounds easy enough, but going down is always the easy part. I skipped down the trail bundled up in a fleece, hat and mittens while clutching a bag of potato chips.
Finally, we got to the Supai Tunnel. It is pretty much as advertised - a tunnel. After a quick peek through the tunnel, we turned around and headed back up.
And that's when I ran out of potato chips. Walking back up 1,441 feet is such a drag without potato chips. I stopped a lot to catch my breath. And I mean a lot! But I made it. I looked around for Mr Kebab at the trail head for my lamb kebab, but he was nowhere to be found. Very disappointing.
South Kaibab Trail & Mule Spotting
A day or so later, we decided to "go below the rim" again on the South Rim. But this time, it was much, much easier. Four reasons - we started off at a lower elevation, it was a pretty short hike, the elevation change was much smaller and the mule trains were a great excuse to stop and catch your breath.
We started off at 7,260 feet and hiked down only 0.9 mile to Ooh Aah Point (elevation of 6,660 feet). I thought the views were much better on this portion of the Kaibab Trail, although there were a lot more people on the trail.
The mule trains were so much fun to watch. They use mules to transport supplies, baggage and people up and down from the canyon bottom. The trail is kind of small, so when the mule trains come by, you have to step off on the uphill side and wait for the mules to pass by.
It wasn't long before we made it down to Ooh Aah Point. We spent a few minutes "oohing" and "aahing" before heading back up. I only had to stop a couple of times to catch my breath!
Still no sign of Mr Kebab, but it turns out you can get a really mean baked enchilada pie at the Bright Angel Lodge restaurant. Almost makes you forget about how delicious lamb kebabs are. Almost.
We walked the Kaibab Trail while eating plenty of salty snacks on 9 and 11 November 2014.