In September of 2002, I went on a rim to rim trip that had been reserved TWO YEARS ahead of time. The reason for the long lead time was that the north rim is only open from May to about mid-October or whenever the first snow falls. Since it is too hot at the bottom of the canyon in May, September and October is the only reasonable time of year to hike rim to rim and stay at the North Rim lodge. So, the entire United States and the world, arguably, is trying to get a reservation for that time period. Plus, as I found out later, 100% of the fees have to be paid up front. So Ray had to shell out $4500 up front.
In any case, I went up several days early to acclimatize and caught four sunrises and three sunsets from the south rim as the ensuing pictures show. Then, on Saturday, we took a shuttle bus from the Bright Angel Lodge (south rim, where our cars were parked) to the North Rim Lodge (a five hour trip). After a pleasant nights sleep, we had a big breakfast and started down the North Kaibab Trail. 5000 feet elevation loss and 16.6 miles later, we arrived at Phantom Ranch. Took about six hours.
The next day we hiked about six miles of the Clear Creek Trail along the Tonto Plateau. Basically this is a shelf half way down to the river.
On the fourth day, we hiked back up to the south rim which was pretty hard work, let me tell you. This trip is a five star trip and I can highly recommend it. If you are interested in doing it also, I have some tricks of the trade to share now.