We arrived at Trailer Village on Monday June 4th 2007 and headed straight to the Permit Office arriving there around 4 pm. We told the ranger that although we knew the possibility of getting a campsite at Bright Angel Campground might be slim, we were hoping to get lucky. He typed on his computer and then asked "How many nights?". We were ecstatic and told him just one. In hindsight, I wish we had opted for 2, but who knew at the time. We left with our permit and we were on Cloud 9!
We got up at 5 am and caught the shuttle to the South Kaibab Trail and hit the trailhead about 5:30 am. It was just getting light as we started our descent and FREEZING. We started our hike in flannel shirts and shorts! A few others were on the shuttle bus but we only saw a couple of others pass us on the trail early on. We wanted to take our time and enjoy the hike since we were fortunate enough to obtain a campsite below. We ran into a ranger who said that they were having a highly unusual cold spell and that the winds
Camping at the Bright Angel Campground
were unusually high. And they were definitely strong which made it even colder. We encountered a few rangers hiking back up from Phantom Ranch and they were always pleasant to chat with.
When we made it to the first rest house, the temperature was about 70 degrees! However, even with the winds, as we descended, it got hotter and hotter. We took our time and made it to the black bridge about 3:30 pm and it was 107 degrees according to the thermometer at the Bright Angel Campground. I must admit that by then our feet were aching and we were HOT. We set up our tent on one of the many open sites before hiking to Phantom Ranch. I had no idea it was still a pretty good walk to the Ranch but the ice cold lemonade was well worth it! Just to have something cold was a real treat. It was the best lemonade I have ever had. We hiked back to our campsite but it was too hot to rest and we had only brought a tent, no bedroll, which in hindsight was a huge mistake. So about 6:30 pm we headed back to Phantom Ranch to
Bright Angel Trail
Me and Randy on the Bright Angel Trail
enjoy some shade and wait for them to reopen at 8 pm. We asked a nice guy to shoot a picture of us on the steps of Phantom Ranch but by then it was close to dark and the photo is pretty hard to see. After more lemonade and a bag of ice to bring back to camp, we headed back to our tent.
Neither of us could sleep until about 3 am when it finally cooled off some and we dozed until it was almost light, then we packed up, cleaned up our site and headed off to the silver bridge. I can’t remember ever seeing so many stars all at once. We were anxious to get back to some cooler weather so we made good time early on. After making it to Indian Gardens, we topped off our water supply and rested for a bit. There were so many squirrels hanging around trying to entice hikers into sharing their treats. We had run into the guy who had taken our picture the evening before at the Ranch and found out that he had hiked from the north rim the day before! Poor guy, I felt bad I had
One of my favorite photos.
asked him to stand up and take our picture the evening before, but he was a great sport. We talked and shared stories and continued our hike together for a while. His name was Earl and he was from Ohio and what a super guy. He took a few shots of Randy and me hiking up the trail and I was so grateful for that. We chatted with so many nice people which was one of the best things about this hike. We took so many pictures and still none can compare to the beauty that is the Grand Canyon. We saw numerous deer and lots of lizards along the trails. The deer just looked at us as we walked by as if they were as amazed to see us as we were to see them.
By the time we reached the 2nd stop, the first rest house, we were plenty hot and tired. Going up is easier in a lot of ways, but it was definitely starting to take it's toll on us. The cool wind blowing through the rest house cooled us immensely.
One funny thing that we noticed was our legs-they were huge! We wondered if
A little cooler than we expected going down the S. Kaibab Trail.
it was fluid buildup or just tight muscles. Whatever the reason, we were amazed at the size of them. By the next day they were down slightly and almost back to normal within a couple of days. It was not a problem, just odd. I do remember reading comments on blogs about swelling legs and feet and I think we should have propped ours up more when we rested but Randy kept saying we'd be fine. I think the last 2 miles would have been easier if our legs didn’t feel as though they weighed a ton each.
We saw condor after condor and what a sight to behold! We saw 7 all at once soaring in the canyon and marveled at the beauty of these magnificent birds. By the second rest house, we were really feeling the effects of all that hiking and we were very thankful we had split the hike in to 2 days, otherwise I am not sure how we would have made out. We were thinking it would never end and vowing to never attempt anything like that again when we ran into a guy who had passed us going down earlier in the
The Black Bridge coming into sight but still a good bit of hiking ahead to get there.
day and he was hiking back out from Indian Gardens for a "beer run"! He encouraged us greatly telling us we were just at the 2 mile point and we so knew we were getting closer to the top and back to our RV!!
By then the winds were picking up and the temperature was dropping again as we neared the rim. I think we ended up getting back to the top about 4 pm and we were back in our flannel shirts! Hard to believe the difference in the temperature when we were so hot earlier.
It is funny how the mind works, because by the time we were leaving Grand Canyon National Park, we were talking about hiking again, this time from the north rim, but we will plan to secure a campsite at Cottonwood, stay a night at Phantom Ranch and we will bring bed rolls. Then perhaps a night at Indian Gardens before heading back up the last leg of the Bright Angel Trail.
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