|Bright Angel - South Kaibab Loop, AZ|
|Bright Angel - South Kaibab Loop, AZ|| |
Bright Angel - South Kaibab Loop, AZ
|Hiking||18.71 Miles|| 10 Hrs 17 Mns ||2.23 mph|
|5,160 ft AEG|| 1 Hour 53 Mns Break|
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|Getting to the bottom of the Grand Canyon has been on the list since I moved to Arizona 17 years ago. I've been to the Grand Canyon at least a dozen times, but I was never fit enough to make the trip, or I didn't have anyone willing to go on the adventure.
I pretty much had my mind set, that if it was to be done, it needed to be a day hike. Go big or don't go! Luckily I had Karl, not only willing to do the hike, but willing to make sure I could do the hike and enjoy it at the same time. After many weekends of long hikes and lots of elevation, it was finally time!
We were actually ready to start, before our start time, I know I was anxious to start. Finally the sun was starting to light the horizon and we headed down Bright Angel at 6:45AM. We started just after a family of five. Karl was in high gear to get moving, but I got caught up in documenting everything in pictures. At the second tunnel I was able to get him to pause for a picture. Then we came upon some icy sections. The Mom of the family we were behind slipped and fell and she was beginning to scoot down the trail on her bum. There were about four separate icy sections, but they could be skirted by walking on the edge. As we passed she told me the airline had lost their luggage that contained their crampons and camelbacks. The Dad of the family told her it was going to be a very long day if she didn't start walking instead of scooting. Karl and I played leap frog with the three kids, as they would cruise ahead and then wait for their parents, until we finally lost them at the 3 mile rest house.
Between 3 mile and Indian Gardens, the deer sightings started. A guy passing us as we stopped to watch said he is only willing to stop for big horns, the deer are too common. I guess it shouldn't be so intriguing to watch a deer eat grass....but, it was doing it only two feet away!
After reading all the triplogs and looking at peoples pictures, it was fun to pass those landmarks and see them for myself, like the "brain on sun" thermometer. The sign I saw at Indian Garden said 5 miles to Phantom Ranch. I tried to stop dilly dallying, and get moving but it was hard not to try and soak everything in.
As you get closer and closer to the river, when you pass other hikers, there is an unspoken camaraderie, everyone seemed in good spirits regardless of which direction they were heading. We passed three boys straight out of Stand by Me and then awhile later came to their Grandma. She asked how far ahead they were and commented they were making really good time.
Right before the river, we passed some water falls and put it in the file bank as a place to explore when we had more time. Finally the river!! Whoo hoo! In the section where River Trail and Bright Angel meet, we saw the largest amount of people. People hiking in and out and then it seemed to be a good area to explore for those staying at Phantom Ranch.
The River Trail puts on your first elevation gain of the loop. There are lots of photo ops along this trail in all directions. We came to the Silver Bridge. It is obviously quite safe and stable, but you can see through it. It made me a little woozy going across and watching the river. We got to Phantom Creek and took an official break of taking off the packs and pulling out our chairs and enjoying lunch while watching the deer and listening to the creek. Then we went to check out Phantom Ranch and the Cantina and said hello to the mules down in the corral. We filled up on water at the Cantina and listened to a guy telling about his "crazy" friends doing the canyon as a day hike.
Ok, no more messing around, start heading out...ok just a quick look at Boat Beach....ok just one more picture of Black Bridge....Ok, smile one more time for a picture in the tunnel. The plan was to keep moving and take a break at Skeleton Point. We did have to pause frequently to admire the view and admire how far we'd come up. It is pretty cool to be able to see the trail and where you were. We got to the Tip Off and used the rest house and had a brief conversation with hikers taking a break. It probably would have been a good idea to break here, because I started to slack a bit, especially when I hit those switch backs right before Skeleton. We came to a sign that said 3.5 miles to the Rim and 3.8 miles to Phantom, and it put a little skip in my step. At Skeleton we took of the packs and had some chocolate covered graham crackers. A father/son duo showed up, they were just watching the clock and going down until they thought they had traveled far enough. Karl was certain they needed to go a bit further to get views of the river. So he walked them over to a rim spot and scoped it out for them.
Only 1.5 miles up to Cedar Ridge. I had read there weren't any switchbacks between Skeleton and Cedar Ridge...hmmm....except for two separate spots. Cedar Ridge is a pretty area. Karl needed to go over to the rim and see if the views were different, but I was on a mission and stuck to the trail. Only .5 miles to Ooh Aah Point kept repeating over and over in my head. It was pretty windy at Ooh Aah, obviously more pictures were taken, but it isn't a very large area, and you need to keep moving so others can have their turn for pictures.
The last mile to the Trailhead had all types of people, toddlers, older folks, folks in dress shoes and folks with no shoes. A lady asked Karl if she was halfway....Karl said "Halfway to what?!" Just to make sure you don't think you are breezing through the hike, you get smacked with another set of switchbacks before you are done.
This was one of the grandest adventures I have ever been on!