If you haven’t read Part I, check it out first. You should see all the work I put in before you see me lounging and drinking beer…
All said, it took me about 5 hours to get to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. A lot of people told me it would take 3-4 hours, but I guess I took my sweet time. Once I got there, my dogs were barking. I picked a camp site right next to Bright Angel Creek. The rushing water was relaxing.
The view was really pretty from the camp. It’s really hard to believe to get to this serene vista, I had hiked nearly 8 miles and almost a mile down. The canyon walls are quite high at this point, but you see basically none of the outer canyon. It’s its own world.
After relaxing for a while, I decided to check out the rest of the campground. There were deer just wandering around, uninterested in the comings and goings of hikers. The deer below was much closer than this picture suggests. There are a number of support buildings for USPS personnel right out of the frame.
Phantom Ranch is really pretty. The paths wander through these golden trees to cabins and bunk houses.
Did I mention that it was pretty?
Below is the view back towards the campsite and Bright Angel Trail. I’m not sure, but that may be the South Rim. It’s really hard to judge scales when you’re at the bottom. The mini canyon that Bright Angel Creek carved out is substantial by itself, saying nothing of how big the actual Colorado’s gorge is.
It’s really hard to overstate how unbelievably vast the area is. All the pictures until I get back to the Colorado are in a small side area carved by Bright Angel. I’m not sure you could even pick it out from the South Rim.
I was happy to be down here.
I don’t have any pictures of it, but that evening, I ate at Phantom Ranch. It was a family style meal in the dining area. The stew was delicious. There was a couple who had begun their day on a day hike. They called Phantom Ranch and got a last minute reservation. So they hiked down with what they were wearing. I was impressed. After dinner, they reopen as a beer hall. I had a couple cold Grand Canyon beers and hit the sack. When I woke up, I ate breakfast at Phantom Ranch (because why not?) and went back to the site to relax. As soon as I got back, I saw a group of deer drinking right across the creek from me. The pictures aren’t great but it was awesome watching them from my chair.
Below is my campsite. #10, creek side.
What I didn’t get pictures of on the trail were the mule trains. The first surprise of hiking down was the amount of mule poo that littered the trail. The brochures make a big deal about humans defecating X number of feet from the trail in a cat hole, but I’ll be damned if there isn’t mule shit the whole way down. Here is a train of mules bringing supplies to Phantom Ranch. I would not want to ride one of those stinky things up or down. But I was happy they brought meat and beer.
After lollygagging for a few hours, I decided I better begin my ascent to Indian Gardens. They say it takes about twice as long to go up as it does down. I figured since I took five hours getting down, I should expect about 5 hours each day getting back up. On the way out (and in), you pass underneath this ominous overhang. The sign, which you may not be able to read, says something to the effect of “Hurry, you gonna die from rocks”. I hurried.
I didn’t even get out of Bright Angel before a group of deer blocked my path. Here’s the guy that wouldn’t let me leave.
Here is the Silver Bridge on the West side of Bright Angel. The night before I walked out onto the bridge to watch the moon rise. It’s really amazing for a city slicker like me to see shadows cast by the moon. The moon was so bright, I could walk without a flashlight. I smoked a nice cigar in the middle of the bridge (so as not to burn down the Grand Canyon). It was quite the experience. The Colorado is so wide and loud and the moon was so bright. It’s hard to describe the scene, especially for someone of my, er, engineering proclivity. It was nice. Really really nice.
The first time I crossed the bridge as the sun was going down, I was a bit.. eh.. terrified. The bridge sways a bit, the gratings clang and settle, and the Colorado is not exactly small (nor close). I was a little more brave the second and third times.
It’s big. And has rapids. This is looking back towards Bright Angel (to the left) and the Black Bridge.
Looking downriver, you may be able to make out the river portion of Bright Angel Trail on the left.
I don’t look nearly as scared as I felt.
I don’t care what you say, that’s scary.
From Bright Angel Campground it’s, I believe, about a mile of level hiking along the river before you start to ascend. The last view of the river at its level is not particularly dramatic but it was memorable.
That’s all from the bottom! Lest it look like fun and games, continue on to Part III to see the Colorado River to Indian Garden.