I am going to try to hike across the Grand Canyon in May, from the South Rim to the North Rim, and back. Unfortunately, I have discovered that I am probably too late to secure a back-country permit for the week I plan to be there.
My original plan had been to camp at Bright Angel, then 2 nights at Cottonwood (whilst I hit the North Rim and then came back), then again at Bright Angel, and back to the South Rim.
My question is, what is my best option for still taking my hike?
Here are some ideas that occurred to me, but I'd like to hear from people who have done it if any of these are feasible:
Try to full cross the canyon, each way, in a single day, so as to not need it. (Is this really feasible? I'm fat, I'm 40, and I do want to see things along the way!)
Pray hard that a permit is available when I show up. (I hear they reserve a percentage, but don't know how likely it is that I could secure one.)
Set out even without a permit, and just find a discrete place, not in a campground, where park rangers won't look for a permit. (Dodgy in the truest sense of the term - but what happens if they do find me?)
Just show up in the campground and take my chances without a permit.
On the bright side, I will be in the area from May 12 - May 22, but knowing how to plan would be helpful. (Zion and Bryce both seem too close to pass up)
For future use, backcountry permits open up on the first of the month four months prior. On February 1st, for example, all of June becomes open to reservation. I'll save you the time of calculating - May opened up in January, and by February 24th, there was NOTHING in any campground in the corridor any time in all of May. Phantom Ranch was fully booked (they open up 13 months in advance). Moral of the story - April, May, and June are busy. Make your reservations ASAP!