On page two of our hike, we'll take a look at some points of interest along the river and lower Phantom Ranch,
then cross the Silver bridge and head up the Bright Angel trail.
Boat beach is where the river runners pull up for a rest and to exchange people at the Campgrounds
and Ranch. You can see the elevation here is 2400ft (732m) the lowest point during out hike. We've descended
about 4800ft (1463m).
Also close to Boat Beach is a 900 year old Anasazi Indian pueblo. There is a nice sign that tells a little
about it. This site was mentioned in Major John Wesley Powell's Journal while stopping here on his expedition in
Just a short walk down the trail and we come to a more modern establishment. This is the beginning of
Phantom Ranch. I'm not sure of the function of this cabin.
If you go straight, you'll end up at the lodge at Phantom Ranch, maybe 400 yards/m farther. Turn
left and you'll head towards the Silver bridge. There's also a nice shady picnic area with running water. The
bridge pictured below is off on the left trail. If you want to learn more about Phantom Ranch, check out this PDF page.
There's a grave off to the right and behind us that marks the final resting place of Rees B. Griffiths, who was
killed by rocks in 1922, "in the Grand Canyon he loved so well," according to the trail guide book.
This is the lower bridge across Bright Angel creek. This leads to Bright Angel campground and around to the Silver
This is the NPS mule corral built by the CCC. Nothing was going on when I passed by, not a soul in sight.
Check out the neat looking rocks. It looks like a big block of chocolate. In the hiking brochure it says
it's Vishnu Schist. Roughly 1.7 billion years old. It was deposited during the Precambrian period as ocean
deposits mixed with volcanic ash and lava flows. Crustal slabs driven deep below the surface melted under pressure.
The resulting magma squeezed into the overlying rock to form veins of red Zoroaster Granite. This chunk obviously broke
off at some point and rolled here.
We meet the Silver bridge finally, and begin our 9 mile (14.5k) trek back up to the rim. The rocks on
the peaks across the river are the same as the close up I showed you above.
Does it really look like you're at the bottom of the Grand Canyon? Way in the back and top
center is the Zoroaster temple, that's what they call it. This image looks back at the NPS mule corral and
the Black bridge in the distance.
Your gracious host for todays hike. The wind was blowing super hard, so I'm hanging on to my hat for
dear life. I could feel the bridge swaying gently in the wind, but on calm days it probably wouldn't do that.
Looking down at my dirty shoes, and cheap shoes that *fell apart all too quickly--brand name "Skechers,"
we have the Colorado river. The black pipe below and center is the Transcanyon pipeline, which carries water from high
in the north rim to Indian Garden, where it's then pumped up to the village. *My shoes were comfortable though,
and not new.
The sign points the way to the trails. We want to go right, on the River trail where we'll eventually
pick up the Bright Angel trail. I'm at the 3 hour mark now.
We start to climb a bit while following the river, but we'll descend when we hit Pipe Creek.
There're some nice sandy areas along the way, kinda tough to walk over though.
There's actually an outhouse in the picture, though not very clear. Look at the center left, it's
a black square blob. Pipe creek empties just above it.
Ahead is Pipe Creek beach, complete with outhouse. No water here though unless you drink the river or creek
This is where I stopped for lunch. The River Resthouse was built by the CCC in 1936. It has a place
to tie up your mule, or make an emergency phone call, it also has a nice porch. There's no table or anything
here, you just sit on top of the walls. This is where the River trail and Bright Angel trail meet. I spent about
25 minutes eating a Ham Sandwich, a Banana and a small bag of Doritos. I had my favorite candy bar, a 3 Musketeers,
but didn't eat it 'till I was in the car.
Check out the inside. There's a trail registry book in the corner.
This little critter looks like he's been in a few fights, and I know why! He's a thief! I turned
my back on him for a split second and he almost stole my Doritos.
This is another mule train coming down from Bright Angel. I'm not sure I'd want to ride one of these
down. I think I'd be more comfortable hiking, and stopping where I wanted to take pictures etc. This image
comes from the porch on the River Resthouse, Pipe creek in foreground. The Colorado river is only 100 yards/m away.
We're heading up towards Indian Garden. The Trail is much more closed in than the South Kaibab trail, which
follows a ridgeline for much of its length.
It looks like we're near the top, but we aren't. We're gaining elevation, but not very quickly,
and we have a long way to go. I like the colors here, unfortunately everything is kind of washed out looking.
The good thing about Bright Angel trail is the occasional drinking water and shade it provides along the way.
This image will give you a better idea about where you are now in relation to the trailhead. The shot looks
down on Indian Garden from Lookout Studio, a couple hundred yards east of the actual trailhead by Kolb Studio. The long
trail 1.5 miles (2.4k) to the left is Plateau Point, accessible from Indian Garden, the green in the middle is from the
Cottonwood trees at Indian Garden. In the next picture we'll be entering the Tepeats Narrows, which is
a small canyon lined in sandstone.
Here's some sandstone layers. Check out the massive chunk that fell off sometime in the past.
There's a nice waterfall with minimal water, but enough to support a lot of trees and plants. Look at the
top and to the left, where you'll see a utility pole and lines coming down from the rim.
This is a closer version, but not the same pole. It looks like it's original from the 1920s or 1930s.
There were plenty of flowers, but nothing much different than what I get in Tucson.
We've made it to Indian Garden in 4:56 minutes, don't get too excited though, we still have most of the elevation
gain ahead of us.
I think the sheer walls in the back are called Redwall limestone.
This is the pump house for getting water up to the village.
The sign points the way from the trail intersection. I wanted to take this hike out to Plateau Point,
but I didn't know how much time I needed, and how I would be feeling later on.
Indian Garden is nice and shady, and Garden Creek runs along side the camping area. This day the creek was
running pretty strong and made it all the more refreshing. There's also a lot of activity here, so if you like solitude,
you're out of luck. This is the site of an ancient Havasupai farming community. As the sign says, it's
4.5 miles (7.2k) from the trailhead, and only 3000ft (914m) down. That makes it a good day hike, and very interesting
hike for normal people, hence all the activity.
There're several cabins and a Ranger Station here. I'm not sure what the cabins are for.
This is the base of a huge cottonwood tree. Unfortunately, nobody was sitting on the bench to give a sense
of scale. The base of the tree was around 7 feet across (2.13m). As we leave Indian Garden, we'll start
to climb, gradual at first, then hard the last 3 miles (4.8k) or so.
This is mile and a half (2.4k) resthouse, which is 1.5 miles from the top.
The second tunnel, if you're coming down, is located on the Bright Angel fault, which separated, and combined
with erosion, formed the side canyon you're hiking on.
Here's one glorious sight; the Kolb Studio. See it at the rim in the center? The Studio is at the end
in our case.
This is the first tunnel, and very close to the end. There's a panel of American Indian Pictographs called
Mallery's Grotto just this side of the tunnel, up high. I didn't see 'em while passing by.
Here's a real bad shot from the front side as you would start out from Kolb Studio. Notice the little window
to the right of the tunnel.
This is the Bright Angel trailhead sign. Notice you get hiking warnings in English, German, French and Japanese,
And now we come to the end of the road. The last 3 miles (5k) were rough. The hardest
part of the trail comes at the very end when you're hungry and tired. I hiked at a pretty fast pace so I would be
sure and finish before dark. Since this was my first time, I didn't know what to expect. I heard horror stories
about having to spend the night down in the canyon with no blanket because the person wasn't properly prepared, and couldn't
make it to the top because of blisters etc, then getting eaten up by scorpions during the night. The National Park service
perpetuates those stories, and worse, like dying in the canyon because of dehydration etc. I'm sure some of them
are true. I suppose they have to try and scare people to get them to take caution. Better safe than sorry, but
it really isn't as hard as some make it out to be. The signs at the trailheads warning hikers about the dangers
of going to the river and back in one day are meant for people who visit during the height of the tourist season, in the summer
when it's really hot at the bottom of the canyon, and, the casual hiker and sightseer. I think I over-prepared
and over trained, of course, that's good. Here in Tucson, I hike the Catalina mountains, and the trails aren't
so nicely groomed as those of the Grand Canyon. The elevation changes are about the same here as they are there.
So the combination of well built trails, training, water sources and cool temperatures made it a breeze. As I said
before, the last few miles were tough, but I had plenty of time to slow down and enjoy the day as it turned out.
Here's some advice if you'd like to hike this trail. Make sure you can walk at least 20 miles with a backpack
on with 3 litres of water and some food. Make sure you do some climbing excersises, this is real important.
I practice in the summer when it's too hot to hike by walking on the treadmill. Put the incline up to 10 or
12 degrees, or maximum. I make it even tougher by putting a 2x4 under the front legs to make it higher. Turn the
speed to 3.5-4.0 miles per hour (5.6-6.4k) and walk for 90 minutes. If you can do this without too much trouble, you
should be able to make this hike. Also, most of the people I saw having trouble, generally from Indian Garden on
up, were having problems with blisters, and they were wearing boots. There are a lot of signs saying you should
wear boots. I hate boots. I wear tennis shoes. Wear the most comfortable pair of shoes you have. If
you have hiking boots that are comfortable, then wear them. Do not go out and buy new shoes to go on a long hike.
This was a very fun and rewarding hike. If you decide to go to the Grand Canyon on vacation, no matter where
you're from or how long you plan on staying, plan on hiking down in the canyon, even if it's on the South Kaibab trail
to the river only, which is less than 13 miles (21k) in length total, that would be my hike of choice if time and distance
were a consideration, I thought it had the most spectacular scenery. Again, do not do this hike between June and August,
it's too hot!
My time was 6:49 minutes from the South Kaibab trailhead to the Bright Angel trailhead, including
a 25 minute lunch and about 350 pictures from two cameras. Total length; about 18 miles (29k). I used 3 litres
of water on the trip. Average temperature; about 50° or 10° Celsius.
Thanks for reading about
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