Thursday, April 17, 2008

GC Sunday

(This is my final segment on our Grand Canyon weekend. Other good things have been happening that I want to write about.)

Sunday began sunny and pleasant with a few scattered clouds. The temperatures in the Canyon had peaked at 82 on Friday and Saturday. The forecast for Sunday called for a small chance of showers later in the day. We made hot tea, had a cold breakfast and loaded our pockets with food before leaving Phantom Ranch.

Looking at the North Rim from the Bright Angel Trail.
Looking at the North Rim from the Bright Angel Trail. (Larger version)

Hiking is relaxing and offers opportunities for observation and reflection. As we starting walking I reflected on the previous two days. There is a ranger station at Phantom Ranch that offers two daily presentations. On Friday we attended a presentation on California Condors and a game of Jeopardy based on the history, flora, fauna and geology of the canyon. Saturdays presentations were on the subjects of plants and bats. We heard fascinating and useful information. At home I have a bat house, a gift from my son and daughter, that wasn't occupied last summer. I learned I need to raise it higher above the ground.

Julie looks back at the first steep climb.
Julie looks back at the first steep climb. (Larger version)

The first half of Bright Angel Trail to Indian Garden is slightly over 3 miles in length and climbs approximately 1,300 feet in elevation. The trail crosses the silver bridge and follows the south side of the river before beginning a fairly easy climb. This is my favorite part of the trail.

Trees in bloom at Indian Garden.
Trees in bloom at Indian Garden. (Larger version)

Indian Garden has a campground, water, toilets and a ranger station. It's a social environment where mule riders, day hikers and backpackers congregate for a break. A woman approached me and asked if my name was something or other. I told her "No" and asked why she was looking for this man. She had taken a nine day river trip and was dropped off earlier that morning. Her sister was continuing on the remaining nine days of the trip. At Indian Garden she was scheduled to meet a man who would hike down to the river and take her place for the rest of the trip.

Taking a break at Three Mile Rest House.
Taking a break at Three Mile Rest House. (Larger version)

The remainder of Bright Angel Trail is a climb of 3,100 feet over five miles. There are two rest houses named Three Mile and Mile and a Half. Due to cold weather the water was shut off at these stops. We filled our hydration packs and set off for the next rest house. One of the best things about climbing out of the canyon is the freedom to eat with abandon. Hikers expend about 500 calories per hour so we refilled our pockets also.

Looking down on Indian Garden and Three Mile Rest House.
Looking down on Indian Garden and Three Mile Rest House. (Larger version)

I've never found the hike out of the canyon to be difficult. Julie and I set a pain-free pace that gives us the ability to talk easily. It's an enjoyable climb taking switchback after switchback being unable to see our destination above while enjoying views to the north. Our final climb was uneventful. We packed YakTrax in case we needed them on the ice pack below the rim but there wasn't much ice though there was one long stretch of soupy mud. The trail was a mixture of dry stretches, ice, mud and snow on shaded sections.

Nearing the South Rim beneath a cloudy sky.
Nearing the South Rim beneath a cloudy sky. (Larger version)

Nearing the rim we passed hikers descending the trail wearing long pants, heavy coats, gloves and scarves. By contrast I was wearing shorts and a long sleeved tee shirt. The warm sunny skies and pleasant breeze of the morning had been replaced by solid clouds and a cold wind. Shortly after arriving at the top, a brief snow shower began.

The weekend ended too quickly.


Blogger Buffalo said...

Good times always end too quickly.

4/17/2008 09:40:00 PM  
Blogger Kindness said...


4/18/2008 11:41:00 PM  

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