Fifteen year old Taylor and nine year old Brooklyn Miller took part in an amazing adventure with their grandmother Dee Miller this July.
By Angel Wyrwas
Fifteen year old Taylor and nine year old Brooklyn Miller took part in an amazing adventure with their grandmother Dee Miller this July. They became part of the Rim-to-Rim Club after they completed the arduous journey from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to the South Rim in four days. Only one percent of the millions of yearly visitors to the Grand Canyon actually hike into it. Completing a rim to rim is even less, making the girls some of the youngest to complete the extreme hike.
“The girls and I have hiked a few times in the Black Hills and they seemed to like it,” said Dee, an accomplished hiker and nurse from Sheridan, Wyo. “I met the girls at a basketball tournament and Taylor suggested we go somewhere together this summer. I had done a Rim-to-Rim last summer and asked if they would like to go to the Grand Canyon. They said yes.”
To stay overnight in the canyon you must plan ahead and request permits at least four months in advance. “The permits are granted by a lottery system so you don’t know right away whether you’re accepted,” said Dee. “We received our permit in late March.”
The three of them flew out of Casper to Las Vegas where they rented a car and drove to St. George, Utah. Grandma and the girls left the hotel at 3 a.m. and arrived at North Kiabab trailhead (elevation 8,241 ft.) around 6 a.m. They headed down the trail seven miles to Cottonwood campground on July 14 where they spent the night. The descent was approximately 4,161 ft.
This was also a backpacking hike. Everyone had to pack their own clothes, gear, food and water on their backs. “We used hiking poles and it went very fast the first day,” said Taylor. “It was easy to keep going because it was so beautiful, I wanted to see more.” The next day they hiked another seven miles (1,600 ft. descent) to Phantom and stayed at Bright Angel Campground. The trio stayed all Sunday at the campground to rest and because temperatures were in the 120’s. The campground consisted of small site pads with a table. “It was so hot in the tent that we slept outside,” said Taylor. “But to get away from the lizards we slept on the picnic table.”
“There are two bridges that cross the Colorado River from there. The black one goes up the South Kiabab Trail and the silver bridge continues to Bright Angel Trail,” said Taylor. “While we were there we crossed the silver bridge and came back on the black one. We could also go in the river but not too far out or the current would sweep you away.”
On Monday they left Bright Angel Campground at 2 a.m., crossed the silver bridge in the dark and hiked up five miles on Bright Angel Trail to Indian Gardens Campground. The trio used mules to pack their equipment on their way back out of the canyon. Since a cool breeze came through with a rainstorm, they decided to leave Indian Gardens at 6 p.m. and hike the final five miles on Bright Angel Trail to South Rim. The ten miles from Bright Angel to South Rim is a 4,380 ft. ascension.
“Brooklyn enjoyed her time but has decided to wait until she is older and her legs are longer before attempting such a hike again,” said Brooklyn and Taylor’s mom Alexiss Miller. “Her favorite part was learning about the California Condors and receiving her junior ranger badge from Interpretive Ranger Kim Girard.”
“It was so beautiful, I was sad to be done,” said Taylor. “I definitely want to do it again, only try going down the South Kiabab Trail and up Bright Angel Trail next time.”
“I wanted to take them because I feel it is important as girls to know that they can accomplish anything,” said Dee. “It wasn’t your average summer vacation. It is an accomplishment they can be proud of. They are my heroes!”