When people think of the Grand Canyon they typically imagine a vastness that extends into the horizon, imposing trails that offer grand views the further one travels them, and weather that seems to change with each passing day. However, few people get the opportunity to experience what the canyon has to offer outside of the what can be seen at first glance. After having been on the South Rim's South Kaibab trail for the first couple of months of the season our crew was beginning to feel as though we had seen most of what the canyon had to offer. Nevertheless, with the promise of going to the North Rim to look forward to, we were excited to see another side of the canyon that was completely new to us. With this in mind we set off to the North Rim with hopes of new experiences.
For this hitch we were divided into two groups, one group was to make the long hike into the canyon to Roaring Springs while the other was staying at the rim to work on the North Kaibab trail. Despite being in two different areas of the canyon and having differing experiences, both groups got to explore one of the canyons many secret areas, the Cave of the Pools. The cave was off the beaten path of the trail and completely unknown unless one had prior knowledge of its whereabouts. Luckily for us, one of the National Park Service trails crewmember we were working with decided to surprise us at the end of one of our work days.
After a long day of going down trail and de-rocking we ended up close to the cave and got the chance of exploring it. In order to reach the cave we had to make a small trip through some brush and scramble up a boulder or two. After that ordeal we found ourselves at the caves entrance. From there it was single file line crawling into the cave. As we made our way through the first section we joked about how cramped it was but kept going regardless. After a while we found ourselves in a small clearing with several hiding spots. We stayed and talked about the cave features for a bit and then it was back to crawling. At one point there was a section with one of the first "pools" below us that provided a break from crawling. We shuffled through that section and arrived in another small clearing that had a small container with a notepad and pen in it. The notepad had the names of other people that had visited the cave before us as well as when they visited and messages for those that had made the trip. After writing our names and crew we continued our journey through the cave.
The final stretch ended up being the most difficult with another large pool below us that we had to crawl over using parts of the cave wall that stuck out to form a path to crawl on. After managing past that section we were in the home stretch with the exit in sight and no obstacles in our way. After a brief photo shoot we made our way through and got to the exit. A small scramble down a few boulders and we were back on the trail. We talked and joked about our experience in the cave as we began our three mile hike up the canyon.
Once both groups were reunited we learned that the other group had also visited the cave and had their own stories to share. We talked and exchanged what had happened as we left the canyon. However, as we left we shared another unique experience. As we were driving away from the North Rim a group of buffalo were running along the road in the same direction we were heading. Our hitch at the North Rim ended with us "running with the beefalo" which was an experience we all treasured.