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Old Bright Angel Trail
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mini location map2012-09-03
60 by photographer avatartibber
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Old Bright Angel TrailNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Hiking avatar Sep 03 2012
Hiking10.80 Miles 2,914 AEG
Hiking10.80 Miles   9 Hrs      1.96 mph
2,914 ft AEG   3 Hrs   30 Mns Break
1st trip
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ABC - Group
I get an email from Wendy: I want to try this (and she attaches the link to this trail). My initial reaction is, if you're willing to take me, I'm willing to go. Well after reading the trip reports on HAZ and elsewhere that answer changed to "Are you crazy?!" :wrt: :o . Two things made me leary: route finding and 3600 feet up at the end. I told her as much as I would love to I just couldn't do that. Nonetheless I printed out all the reports I could find (hoping I could dissuade her) and gave them to her when we got up to the N Rim for our 4 day camping/hiking trip with ABC.

I don't know when she changed her mind but she said, "How 'bout...." "we just hike 2 miles in to the first waterfall and back "making it a 10 mile or so hike". Well now THAT sounded much more reasonable though still difficult after not hiking for a few weeks. Clyde knew Wendy was interested in the hike so had scouted out a way to cut off 2 miles from the hike :) .

Monday morning, I made 3 sandwiches for Clyde, Wendy and me along with handing out huckleberry taffy. We rounded up some more folks to join us and drove on the Cape Royal road to a pull out by one of the signs. Clyde had found the old Bright Angel Road that would take us to the Ken Patrick and to the junction with the Old Bright Angel/Point Imperial Trails.

We made our way up the meadow and into the forest. It was a tad humid but not hot and since this was a new adventure, we were all excited and made good time. Chris ran point while Clyde swept keeping us inline per his GPS application. The road would fade out from time to time so this was necessary to make sure we would hook up with the Ken Patrick Trail. It was very cool to walk right into the trail. You hang a left and then go up a hill. Almost everyone remarked how we would look forward to going down this at the end.

We gradually made our way to the top of the Rim and across it through a burn area that was littered with pretty yellow flowers and other colorful flora from time to time :budrose: . We walked through a couple groves of very young aspen and a couple miles later, we arrived at the Junction. We all knew the next couple miles would be steep and hard as the trail was notorious for overgrowth. Clyde put Wendy at point :gun: to slow Chris down which was no easy task.

The overgrowth is pretty thick so at one area Wendy yelled back to make sure she was on track but honestly, at this point, there seemed very little choice. We started our way through the layers of rock and through the overgrowth. The coolest part was the Coconino Limestone :D layer but that was also the slipperiest section. Of course, I'm trying to take as much video as possible which isn't easy with these trail conditions.

We plowed through more overgrowth including small aspen and locust and such. At times I would turn around and Clyde was totally engulfed by the overgrowth. I got a little of it on film. We took a break not quite 1/2 way down. I think it was a little past here where Wendy realized she might be off trail. Per Clyde's GPS track she was off ;) , track that is. We could make out what looked like a trail just above us. The trail looks like it could go down here but it continues level.

I think it was after this section that we hit that cool red rock area that leveled out to slightly down hill for a short time. It was a really neat area and I enjoyed the lack of steepness for a short period of time. After this short break, it was more switchbacks through the next layer. Once again we had to get through the overgrowth which got particularly difficult the closer we got to the creek/waterfall area.

We almost slid down through some maples :) to the dry creek bed and then we meandered thru here to where it opens up to a nice view to the south of the canyon wall across the way. And of course, there's nothing more fun than hanging out at a dry waterfall :DANCE: . Would have been way cooler with water but it was still fun. We went west along the trail to a wall overlooking the waterfall for our well-earned lunch. We sat in the shade and rested for quite a bit before our long grueling hike out.

I hoped for some cloud cover and a breeze for our climb and I'd say for 80% of the time we got that. (I had this similar wish granted when we came out at Keet Seel). Lorie took the lead. I wasn't sure how that would go as I've never hiked with her until today but since she was a SAR girl, I had great confidence. She set an easy enough pace and let us catch our breath in the steeper parts. Two of the guys took off ahead; I doubted we would see them until the junction but lo and behold, we found them as we rounded up from a switchback. We had a snack here before continuing our tredge up the hill : rambo : .

Once again, I enjoyed going thru the wash-like section with the red rock even if it was on the uphill slant this time. I liked climbing through the layers as it provided short term goals. Wendy has an even cheerier outlook cuz instead of being only 1/2 way there, we're already 1/2 way done :A1: . She did that to me a couple times. I just kept saying in my head, it's only 2 1/2 miles total, this is nothing. Well that didn't quite work but it helped.

Needless to say, once we got to the junction I threw myself on the ground, something I don't recall doing in the past. I actually think I did pretty good for me and I was patting myself on the back by telling everyone so :lol: . I'm not sure how long the guys had waited but they and Lorie and Clyde wanted to take off without us. I asked them to wait 5 minutes but hurried to get myself back together and be on our way.

I must have really been feeling my oats as I was hiking so fast :sl: Wendy asked me to wait up. When she joined me, she was even a bit winded. I'm sure THAT will probably never happen again but I felt good :y: . So I slowed down a little, she eventually went ahead and I stayed back with Clyde. The light was really pretty on the Rim top and the temperature pleasant. Then we hit the hill and it was SUPPOSEDLY all down hill from there.

When it came time to turn off the main trail at the bottom of the hill, we weren't really quite sure where that was EXACTLY. We think we've found it and I think we did based on the route I posted. However, though it seemed we were on the old road, we weren't and we veered way too far east and ended up in a completely different canyon. We eventually realize we are off track but little did we know how much. And guess what? Of course we would have to climb up that hill :sweat: and hope that veering to the west we would be able to get back down to the meadow where we started.

After some serious discussion between some of the folks :-({|= , I handed Scout to Wendy and said I felt Scout could get us back :M2C: . I didn't want to add another GPS to the 3 that were already being used earlier :STP:. I also thot, we would get on track sooner than we did. Wendy took the lead and Chris more or less hiked ahead shortly after I fell :oops: going over a log. Well by this time, most of us are also out of water but lucky for us, we saw the meadow and 10 minutes later, we were back at the cars. Essentially we added a mile to our hike.

Bright Angel Canyon has a lot to offer and I wouldn't mind taking a stab at finishing the trek all the way to Roaring Springs but then I would rather continue down to Cottonwood Camp, hang out for the nite before completing the trip.

Here is the link to the videos Oh, may I suggest you change the quality on youtube to HD1080. You can find that setting next to the minutes just below the video screen (or next to the clock icon)

Part 1 -
Part 2 -
Throwing a Wendy
For me, sometimes it's just as much about the journey as the destination.
Oh, and once in awhile, don't forget to look back at the trail you've traveled.
HAZ Member
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