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Backpacking into the Grand Canyon - 1980


Aaron Zagrodnick

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Aaron Zagrodnick

In May of 1980, my dad decided to hike across the Grand Canyon. And I of course wanted to go with him – for each of us, the chance to hike across the largest canyon in the country was too good to pass up. My dad was going to turn 60 later that summer, and I was almost 27 at the time. Even though my wife and I had an 11-month-old son, we chose May of 1980 to make the trip. We acquired the required permits, which were easy to get at the time. As it turned out, we couldn’t hike all the way across the canyon, as the North Rim was still closed (the North Rim is a thousand feet or so higher in elevation than the South Rim, gets considerably more snow, and is closed from October into mid-May), so we decided to go down one trail and out by another. In the end, we chose the South Kaibab Trail to go in and the Bright Angel Trail for coming back out...

@Steve Ancik details this retro hike into the Grand Canyon, read the full article below in Issue 35:

Back in the Day at the Grand Canyon, 1980

Backpacking the Grand Canyon in 1980

Issue 35 Page 1

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  • 1 year later...

There is a famous guy in Arizona that has been hiking the Canyon for decades.  The year of his 80th birthday he decided to do 80 R2R trips in one year. 

I know a guy that used to pack mules in the canyon.  Not the dude string.  He packed the mail, food, fuel and trash in and out of Phantom Ranch.  On the Bright Angel Trail which is steeper than the Kaibab, he could get to PR in about 2 hours and 45 minutes.  Coming out he was lighter, but uphill and it took around an hour longer.  He packed their for around 20 years and was helicoptered out 3 times.  Finally he quit and moved southern AZ. 

For anyone that has never done it, taking a raft down the Grand Canyon is one of the best trips in the world. 

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