Thursday, April 28, 2011
Grand Canyon/Phantom Ranch Hiking Trip 2011 - 4/11 thru 15/11
During the second week of April 2011, eleven friends hiked down to Phantom Ranch at the Grand Canyon. There were six members of the club and five various brothers and sisters of said members. (The sixth club member caught a cancellation and stayed in a nearby dorm.) We rented a ten-person cabin one year previous to the trip and held our collective breaths as the United States Congress played "chicken" over the national budget threatening to close the national parks and, therefore, abort our fantasy laden emergence into that huge eons old crevasse called the Grand Canyon.
The writer's brother and she arrived at the South Rim the day before and took a stroll through telltale patches of snow over to Maricopa Point where we viewed the Bright Angel Trail below us switchbacking its way up the side of the canyon. In three days, we would be facing those zigzags from the bottom.
Tuesday - South Kaibab Trail - DOWN
Tuesday morning, the eleven hikers chose different routes and times to make their way to Phantom Ranch. While most of the ten began their trip down via Bright Angel Trail, their start times varied. There were two hikers who made a side trip to Plateau Point and two or three that took the Tonto Trail over to the South Kaibab Trail to finish their descent. We decided to descend the South Kaibab Trail from the top to provide the best views possible for the purpose of being "blown away!" Along with another Bright Angel hiker, we were the first to arrive at the ranch to check in even after multiple photos and casual breaks.
Early morning view to the east from Cedar Ridge.
View from South Kaibab Trail to the snowy North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
NOTES: The South Kaibab Trail has been worked on using stimulus monies. One section of steps has been removed. The section just above the Cedar Ridge rest is now a much more pleasant ramp. - Since this was still early in the season, only one supply mule train passed us. - The profound chill that we felt in the air on the rim in the morning had dissipated by the time we reached Cedar Ridge. Then, by the time we reached the ranch, we were very warm with a temperature in the 80's.
Descending just past The Tipoff in the red dirt layer.
Looking back to the tunnel on the Black Bridge.
South Kaibab Trail
Phantom Ranch needs to use some of that stimulus money to replace their water filtering system with a bigger stronger apparatus. Even though the ranch is all about history and keeping up the look of when it was refurbished in 1922, perhaps keeping back the tremendous amount of silt that comes pouring down the Bright Angel Creek every spring can be done behind the scenes. Below, note the requirements for most of the women and some of the men at Phantom Ranch during this week. Those buckets were heavy!
Wednesday - North Kaibab Trail - Ribbon Falls Trail - Clear Creek Trail Overlook
Wednesday morning, we all woke for a 6:30 breakfast served family style and "don't be late!" A few of the more heartier hikers left for a Clear Creek Trail hike. It is assumed that they passed the overlook and reached the base of the Zoroaster Temple. This is a good workout but the report included implications that the hike became dull after reaching the flat terrace above the inner canyon.
A few of the hikers took a well- deserved day off from the foot- pounding and four of us left early for a twelve mile round trip hike to Ribbon Falls.
One of six bridges which cross Bright Angel Creek along the trail.
We hiked along the very pleasant Bright Angel Creek on a fairly flat trail at a casual pace. We noted the small wildflowers that had bloomed and the spiny back lizards on the trailside rocks. Many photo opportunities existed and we enjoyed every minute.
When we reached the falls, there were already a gaggle of young men at top of the falls enjoying themselves with showers and photos. We squeezed in their midst and took our photos, too. There was a lot more water coming over the cliff than in May of last year. The waterfall was likely at its best. We took our snack break then hiked back to the ranch thankful that the clouds covered the sun while we were in the open area north of the slot canyon.
The open part of the North Kaibab Trail to the North Rim.
Thursday - Bright Angel Trail - UP
Morning light reaches the inner canyon.
The Silver Bridge.
Thursday morning, we all woke around 4:30 for a 5:00 breakfast ready to face the music! It was the day to climb.
Nine of the hikers ascended by use of the South Kaibab Trail. We chose the Bright Angel Trail. The difference in the trails is about 2 miles, Bright Angel being the longer. Coincidentally, the hikers met at the top outside of the Bright Angel Lodge at the same time. Granted, the Kaibab hikers met up with a few delays along the top for trail workers.
Suffice it to say, the Bright Angel Trail has not lost any of its valor. The hike out was challenging. We passed many other hikers, so the six hours, give or take, that it took the two of us was nothing to be ashamed of! The hike along the river at the bottom continues to be a favorite of this writer. The Devil's Corkscrew is not too bad given the early part of the hike and being somewhat in the shade at the early hour. Indian Gardens was lush and placid. Then ... the rest of it. Remember the second photo of this entry?
The Battleship in the foreground.
Back on the South Rim
After a bath, lunch and recovery time, we took the park provided shuttle bus out to Hermit's Rest stopping at a few points along the way. The air was hazy but there is little that can ruin any view of the Grand Canyon. Before heading out the next morning, we walked along the rim a short way. There is now something they call "The Trail of Time." There are rocks placed monument style and placards placed to indicate the age of rock found below the rim. (NOTE: Someone's money built beautiful new large bathrooms with automatic toilets in the Bright Angel Lodge. Much needed.)
We stopped by the Visitor's Center and walked out to Mather Point for a few photos. Here, we got the photo panorama of the South Kaibab Trail. Our trip to the Grand Canyon concluded and we left. Can't wait till next time!
Mather Point view.