|Hiking||16.60 Miles|| 10 Hrs 15 Mns || ||1.62 mph|
|4,790 ft AEG|| || || |
From the South Kaibab TH hiked down to the River Trail junction, then took River Trail around to the silver bridge and stopped at Bright Angel campground before heading up Bright Angel Trail.
It was a snowy, blowy, dark and quiet morning as I took the first shuttle of the day out to the TH. The pinions and agaves were trimmed in white and the trail was packed snow and ice well past Cedar Ridge. Eventually the snow turned to fog and the ice to mud, so I was able to fully appreciate the geologic layers of the Canyon - here's the red mud, now the brown mud, the green mud, and finally the black mud. One of the condors was hanging out on an outcrop below the Tipoff and kept me company for awhile. I think he was also keeping an eye on the Park Service helicopter buzzing around the corridor - what was that all about? I rolled into BA campground after noon, spent about an hour resting and ate some of my MREs. Then time for the long slog up Bright Angel! Pipe Creek was flowing nicely with all the snowmelt. In fact below the snowline the whole Canyon was just amazingly green. One sour note: one rider, staring brainlessly ahead instead of paying attention to where her mule was going, only missed smacking me in the face with her whip and bowling me over because I'm a quick ducker!
At Indian Garden I took another stop of 45 minutes. Both campgrounds were amazingly quiet, almost deserted. The slush started up again after 3 mile Resthouse, and by 1-1/2 mile Resthouse I had my crampons and headlamp on. It was pretty spooky climbing out of the Canyon in the dark. There was one other couple somewhat behind me, and another light further down, but I think they were bound downwards. (Yes, some people started that late.) At one point I looked up and saw a misty quarter moon directly overhead.
Got back to my room by 7:15, making it 12 hours TH to TH. Then a shower and a big dinner at the Arizona Room!