Arrived at the Grand Canyon on Sunday afternoon just in time to get to the mule barn to pack our duffel with the extras for the 2 days at Phantom Ranch. The weather was overcast and very windy. There were wind gusts up to 50 mph.
We stayed at Yavapai Lodge on Sunday night and planned a 5:30 start on Monday morning so that we could watch the sunrise at Ooo-ahh Point. There was a lot of cloud cover in the morning and the winds were still blowing with strong gusts. There were 7 hikers in our group, 2 veterans and 5 newcomers to the canyon. I had hiked this trail in 2008 and it was incredible. This time was every bit as beautiful as the last. I could hike this same trail every year and be in awe.
From Ooo-ahh Point the trail turns around a few switchbacks in a natural break in the Coconino Sandstone until Cedar Ridge, where the trail begins to level off slightly. Cedar Ridge had toilet facilities but no water at this time of year. Below here, the trail continues north around the east site of O'Neill Butte, descending gradually through the Hermit Shale and Supai Group to Skeleton Point, three miles from the trailhead. After Skeleton Point, the trail begins a sharp descent through a natural break in the Redwall Limestone. The trail cuts to the west of the point where we got our first view of Phantom Ranch, then quickly back to the east side of the point. There are numerous switchbacks to descend the 1,200 feet through the Redwall Limestone, Muav Limestone, and Bright Angel Shale to the junction with the Tonto Trail, 4 1/2 miles from the trailhead.
We arrived at the Tipoff at about 9:30 am and made our final steep descent to the bottom of the canyon, through the Tapeats Sandstone. This section is the steepest of the South Kaibab Trail at an average of 22%. Six miles from the trailhead, there is a junction with the River Trail at its eastern terminus. One-half mile past the junction, there is a tunnel that lead us across the Black Suspension Bridge crossing the Colorado River.
We arrived at Phantom Ranch about 1 mile from the Black bridge at 11: 15 and were all ready for a hot shower and that ice cold Tecate beer at the cantina. Great Day !!!!