Friday, April 12, 2013
Grand Canyon Hike
EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking in Arizona
Saturday: (04/13) Up way before the sun. I had my breakfast of a sausage and cheese sandwich then Lou drove me up to the bus transfer station for a ride out to the South Kaibab trailhead.
The sun was just rising as I started down.
The Kaibad trail is the shorter route down, about 6.7 miles, to the river but it is steep, going down just under 4800 feet. I normally don't use walking sticks but decided to use them for this hike to help save my knees. They were absolutely needed. The views and weather were great. I was down to the river by 10:15 but was probably the slowest hiker going down.
The zigs and zags were about even.
Coming in to one of the rest stops. There was a group on mules that was having a photo-op moment.
It is a long trip down. Just when you think you've made some progress you get a good view of what's ahead.
Above left is part of the final descent. Above right, when mules approach you move to the inside of the trail and wait. Here I am waiting with other hikers for a pack train to pass.
Coming down the trail on the home stretch to the Black Bridge and river level.
When I got near the river, I hiked through a tunnel onto the Black Bridge. First stop was down by the river at Boat Beach.
Above left is the Bright Angel Creek by the campground near Phantom Ranch. I checked in at the Phantom Ranch about 10:45. I enjoyed my lunch of a cheese sandwich and a nice cold Tecate beer. All the luxuries down here. No Ice cream though. It tends to melt on the mule ride down.
After lunch I took a local hike up the Clear Creek trail, about three miles RT. You get a nice high view of Phantom Ranch and the Kaibab Trail coming down to the bridge.
And a good view of the river. Then I returned on the trail I just hiked up.
Then it was time for a nice shower and a nap. The canteen also serves as the dining room so it closes at 4pm to prepare for the first dinner service at 5PM. I hurried down for another beer before they closed. Beer has never been better, I rarely drink them. Things like that should be saved for special occasions. I attended a 4pm ranger talk by Ranger Mandy Toy on the history if the discovery of the canyon. I had my dinner reservation for the 5pm service. I had the steak dinner. You need to reserve the dinner ahead of time when you reserve the stay. The menu is limited, steak or stew. Dinner is served family style. The steak filled half the dinner plate and was excellent. For such a remote place it's a wonder the dinner was so good. Green salad, baked potato, corn and peas followed by chocolate cake. After dinner I decided I needed a stroll so I walked the river loop trail which takes you across both bridges for a little walk of about two miles. Then it was time for the evening ranger talk which was also with Ranger Toy. The topic as ask the ranger. One thing we learned was that Ranger Toy hikes the trail either up or down every Tuesday. She stays here at Phantom ranch for the week then returns for her own house at the South Rim and has the week off while a second ranger stays at the ranger station for their week there. That's the kind of joy I could like, if I ever wanted to work again. Like, except for the weekly hike, that is. I was staying in the men's dorm. 10 men in a cabin with bunk beds with a nice shower and a water closet and sink. The cooler helped for my afternoon nap.
Sunday: (04/14) I slept well, nobody snored except possibly me. At 4:30 they knock on the door to walk you for breakfast. I signed up for the 5am breakfast. They served bacon, pancakes, scrambled eggs and canned peaches. Again an excellent breakfast served family style. After breakfast I grabbed my pack and started up on the Bright Angel Trail about 05:50. I was the third hiker out as evidenced by the two other sets of footprints in the recently blown sandy part of the trail by the river. We had some high winds last night.
The river trail before heading into a ravine to start toward Indian Gardens.
Above is the flatter trail section leaving from the river. On the right is a nice green seep.
Above left is the steep section just before arriving at Indian Gardens. On the right a little (possibly 60 foot) water fall near the trail below Indian Gardens.
I arrived at the halfway point at Indian Gardens, about 09:30 which is 1220 feet up and 4.4 miles up. The bright angel trail is 9.3 miles and a 4212 foot climb. The trail was shaded for most of the first part then exposed on the steep section before Indian Gardens. It was nice to do it earlier in the morning. I had my lunch. I got a sack lunch from Phantom Ranch. A bagel with cream cheese and jelly and some pretzels for lunch. Not my favorites, and I did bring my own stuff but kept it in reserve. They also had a box of raisins and a couple of electrolyte drink packets. Eating frequently and drinking lots of water and keeping your electrolytes up are key to a nice hike out.
After my lunch I took a side trip out to the Plateau Point a three mile round trip. You get a nice high view of the river gorge. From the rim you see very little of the river. Down here you see a little more. For a big river it sure hides well. I called Lou on the cell phone, barely a signal, and she got to a spot where she could see where I was at with her binoculars but even with the binoculars I looked like at ant. I did wave.
I got a photo at Plateau Point. When I got back to Indian Gardens I refilled my water bottles. Normally you can get water at 3 mile and 1.5 mile stops going up but the water is off there now due to construction. From Indian Gardens, it is a real climb out. Lots of frequent rest stops, snacks and water, about 148 oz of water. Going up.
I wasn't the slowest but nowhere near the fastest.
I was at the top by about 3:15. Lou met me there and we rode the shuttle bus home. Time for a strawberry sundae and then dinner. We had meat loaf with baked potatoes for dinner. Time to rest.
My hike was on the weekend so a lot of my fellow hikers were just out for the weekend. Most of the people I hiked down with were much younger and when they got down, hiked back up the same day. For many it wasn't their first hike. At Phantom Ranch most of the people staying there are regulars returning each year. Going up there were lots of day hikers coming down to Indian Gardens or even to the river. There are even joggers on the trail. At 7 Pm the night I was at Phantom Ranch there were joggers that had started at the South Rim, where I did, and had gone to the North Rim and were returning, after a rest, to the South Rim again. Definitely not my cup of tea.