News and Views

From my kids accomplishments, to my heretical perspective of the world

News and Views header image 2


November 9th, 2010 · 6 Comments

Dale and I made our hike into and out of the Grand Canyon. It was spectacular. It’s a different experience at each level as you drop down. It cannot be captured on film, any more than any aspect of the Canyon can. You have to experience it first-hand to understand.

We started down on the South Kaibab trail on Sunday morning. We returned on the Bright Angel trail on Monday.

The South Kaibab trail is definitely the more scenic. You descend down ridges much of the way, with amazing changing panoramic scenery all the way. As you drop down below the rim, you not only have the beautiful spires and rock walls below, you also have the huge, varied cliff faces above.

By contrast, the Bright Angel trail by which we returned is much more closed in. You follow valleys and ravines most of the way, and though there are lots of places to see the scenery below, the view is much more constrained. However, hiking through the cottonwood and willow groves is pleasant, and shade and the presence of water makes the Bright Angel trail a better summer hike.

We camped at the river, at the Bright Angel campground, next to Phantom Ranch Lodge. It’s nothing like I expected.

I didn’t feel like I was at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. You can’t see the rim anywhere, just rock walls rising a few hundred feet on all sides, so it’s more like being in a small canyon oasis in the desert. Cottonwoods and willows line the banks of Bright Angel Creek and the campground, while most of nearby desert is prickly pear, acacia and brittle bush.

We drank lemonade at the Phantom Ranch Lodge canteen on Sunday afternoon. The Lodge isn’t what I expected either. It’s quite rustic, and most of the guest rooms seem to be separate rock cabins. Ranger talks about the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corp) and Bats Sunday afternoon and evening were interesting diversions, as our feet were too tired to do much exploring.

The hike out up the Bright Angel trail was a grueling 9-mile, 4500-foot climb. We were walking pretty slowly by the last mile, but at its worst it was nothing like the Sierra hike we took last month. This was a stroll in the park in comparison.

They only allow a maximum of 90 campers and 90 Lodge guests on any night, so there are never more than 180 overnight visitors. We met lots of hikers on the trail with light day packs — these were people who had reservations at the Lodge and so only had to carry clothes and toiletries. We met a few people just carrying water — these were the day hikers who had ventured down from the rim and would be returning within the same day. We met several other backpackers, of course. And we met two strings of mules; one carrying supplies for the lodge, and the other carrying tourists, taking the easy way down.

I want to go again some day. Maybe I’ll make the year-out reservations for the lodge and ride the mules down next time. It looked like a lot of fun.

If you get the chance to go, whether backpacking, hiking to the lodge, or riding mules, do it. It is amazing.

Tags: Family Updates

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Don // Nov 9, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    Okay, now I want to lose enough weight so I can do it. I’ve lost 40 lbs so far. Only 60 to go.

  • 2 Daryl // Nov 11, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    Wow, 40 lbs is a significant start. Almost half way there.

  • 3 Karen // Nov 11, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    Sounds beautiful. Glad you had a wonderfun time. Reading your descriptions of the experience makes me want to hike it too 🙂

  • 4 Donna // Nov 15, 2010 at 10:25 am

    You could try to get reservations for next fall for Richard, Dianna, Dale, me and you (and Karen if she wants to go) on the mules. Wouldn’t that be fun? Sounds fabulous!

  • 5 Donna // Nov 15, 2010 at 10:25 am

    Oh, and maybe Don will have lost his 60 remaining pounds by then and want to join us, too.

  • 6 Mom // Nov 20, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    If you all should go into the canyon at the same time, that would leave me holding my breath, hoping that there would be no rock slide or earthquake in the canyon during that time. I have always felt sorry for the mules, but this would put a different light on the subject. The only time I like all of you together is when I am with you, too. No, I don’t plan to go !