Hi there! I am jumping back in time a few months to share with you the hike that my friend Wendy & I did down the Bright Angel Trail at the Grand Canyon.
Unusually for me, we were up and on the trail at 7am. It was the sensible thing to do… temperatures were bound to get into the 40s (100+) so starting in the cooler earlier part of the day was a good start.
We packed our bags with lunch, snacks, sunscreen and filled our camelback drink pouches with ice & water. We were so excited to leave the majority of the tourists behind and really get down into the Canyon.
The morning light altered the views of the canyon again.
The path surface was very manageable (not like the sometimes rocky horrors of the Overland!) I loved the way it often disappeared around corners like this with oblivion over the edge!
Slowly we had cliff faces to look up to instead of down upon!
On a couple of occasions the trail went right through the cliff! Naturally its a good spot for a quick tourist snap!
It was great looking down to see the track snaking in and around the cliffs and trying to work out where we were going.
We were full of optimism… but we hadn’t actually decided how far we were going to go. I had visions of getting down as far as Indian Gardens (which is about 7km/4.5m) But talking to people and about the difficulty and the heat, we were re adjusting our thoughts to go down to the 3 mile hut
Anyway – we had no other pressing engagements so we didn’t have to decide until we found out how we felt once we got there.
Early in the day is clearly a good time to catch some of these beautiful feathered creatures!
As you know… I love rocks. And this place was stunning for layers, colours and textures.
Sometimes we would come across flowers and other odd (to me) plants
The cliffs started looming over us a lot more as time went on.
Going down for me was easy! You know I love the down parts of hikes! Wendy on the other hand was finding this really challenging – it does put a lot of pressure on your joints and her knee was telling her all about it.
But she kept smiling (and she does have a lovely new hiking shirt!)
The views kept changing and were always so breathtaking.
At one point, the advance mule party caught up to us. It was nice to stand aside and watch them plod confidently on by. Its a trek I would love to do one day.
Wendy was marvelously patient with my constant photo taking! Its really a wonder we got any distance at all!
The camelback drink packs were so handy. It was easy to stay hydrated as we walked along. We didn’t feel hungry much or tired, so we skipped stopping at the first rest point.
Always good to stop and look back up
We were coming up on the three mile rest house. You can just see the roof on the right side.
And so – choices choices…
The three mile rest house. Time to top up water, sit and decide what to do. Since it was only about 9am, we were feeling pretty much on top of the world (despite having gone down) and were pretty keen to head down to Indian Gardens. A fellow hiker recommended we also walk out along the plateau where we would get a great view of the Colorado River.
Decision made… we were on our merry way again
It was such a great experience getting down into the canyon. On the Rim Trail you feel very much the tourist. An observer. When you are on the trail, you are a participant. It seems more real (if that makes sense)
As we got closer to the Indian Gardens, the vegetation changed quite quickly.
We got overtaken by the main mule party
I felt lucky to see a variety of flowering plants
Indian Gardens was a very pleasant rest spot. There was a place to refill on water, some toilets, seats and shade
My poor shoes! Not looking so spiffy now!
The best thing in the Gardens? The little creek! Bliss
oh – and another squirrel that I wasn’t allowed to pat.
However, a prolonged stop wasn’t on the cards for us just then. We pushed on to the Plateau track as advised. I mean… we had come this far so what’s another few miles?
This part of the trail is hot and exposed and not recommended at this time of year… meh.
Funnily we met a couple of girls who were on their way back from the lookout that acted so unimpressed about the value of the walk and view. (we dubbed them the ‘boob-girls’ due to their insanely scant attire… seriously. Hasn’t anyone heard of skin cancer or at the very least, heatstroke?? Clearly I am getting old and boring)
We continued nevertheless
Well… I am going to go out on a limb here (or in our case, a rock) and say that Boob-Girls were wrong. Really wrong
The views were spectacular
I was excited to see the Colorado River so much closer. I really wished we were going to continue our hike down!
We stayed here for quite some time, taking it all in & chatting to other hikers that strolled on up.
Eventually we had to return to the gardens. It was now the hottest part of the day and we intended having lunch and a good rest before tackling the very very daunting climb back to the top!
I spent most of that time like this:
Eventually it was time to go. We decided to leave earlier than the recommended time. We knew we would be slow, but just intended to take it super easy and stop as much as we needed.
I think we were unprepared for the effort it took. I also think we kinda psyched ourselves out a little bit about it.
It was purely hard work and the heat sucked you dry into the bargain!
I put the camera away for the most part of the uphill slog. We worked out a way of aiming for a point, then finding shady rock to sit on. We just did it in bite sized chunks
I think we got better at it as the afternoon wore on.
We had the added distraction of meeting a few nice people and a really nice young ranger who we crossed paths with several times. He was stopping people who were hiking down to find out where they were aiming for and gently getting them turned around to go back. He was really good at it. He didn’t suggest they go straight back, but walk on a bit to have a look before returning but also letting them know that at 4pm, its not giving you a lot of time to get back UP again.
A distressing number of these people had on the most extraordinary footwear too!
It was really interesting to hear how the rangers handled emergencies and other situations. Apparently being choppered out was the last resort. Sadly my blisters didn’t quite make the grade of super emergency chopper ride out.
They have emergency kits stashed at the huts. Most problems are dehydration and exhaustion. Rangers will go to hikers in trouble and set them up to sleep for the night, rehydrate them and walk them out in the morning.
I think this fellow had a pretty wonderful job!
When you’ve been walking for 10 hours and you look up… sigh. Still had to get to the top of that!
Look at this face!! Still smiling but you can see she is exhausted! We were both having the time of our lives, but also quite ready to collapse into our sleeping bags!
Seeing that tunnel was looking at the home stretch!
Back up to the top! 7pm, 12 hours, 20km (12miles) and we were done!
I am so glad we did this incredible hike – it was one of the best days ever!
Mind you we couldn’t actually move the next day, but it was worth every ache & pain!
Hope you enjoyed sharing a little of our day!