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Old Bright Angel Trail
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29 by photographer avatarjoebartels
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Old Bright Angel TrailNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Canyoneering avatar Sep 17 2009
joebartels
Canyoneering13.60 Miles 5,282 AEG
Canyoneering13.60 Miles   8 Hrs   45 Mns   1.55 mph
5,282 ft AEG
Canyon Hiking - Non-technical; no rope; easy scrambling; occasional hand use
B - Up to light current; wading/swimming; possible wet/dry suit
II - Normally requires a half day
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Back on Sept 2nd a member requested info on the Old Kaibab Trail in the forum. Some may call it that to keep from confusing it with the Bright Angel Trail on the south Rim. However it's really called the Old BA as it even follows Bright Angel Canyon.

Day 4

After I dropped off Kurt I hightailed it up to the Kaibab Plateau. I was anxious to get in a rim trail. That never panned out as it was too late in the day. Being my first trip to the North Rim I moseyed around for a good hour. I searched high and low for gem spot Kurt mentioned without luck. Then headed back to FR22 to camp for the night. Albeit darn near 40 years old this was my first time camping alone. It got darn nippy. When I woke it was 33 in the tent and 29 in the meadow. I couldn't muster up the strength to get up at 5am as planned. For the first time my 15 degree Helium EQ felt friggen awesome so I snuggled warm another hour.

Crawling out of my bag I swore ten times over to never camp below 40 degrees. On the flip side there's no bugs, rodents or such cause it's to damn friggen cold! Only the French neighbors about a hundred yards away through the dense woods caused any noticeable ruckus.

On to the hike I'd anticipated for weeks, 7am. The Ken Patrick Trail is a nice stroll with some nice canyon views in the beginning. I estimated the first leg to be 4.0 miles to the turn off down the Old BA Trail. Not knowing I was watching my GPS like a hawk. As it turns out the Old BA is signed. Contrary to other reports I could find it's extremely well maintained right off the rim. The hike to the junction turned out to only be 3.6mi. I was flying 40 minutes ahead of my estimated schedule and starting to get a big head thinking I'd be home by 6pm...lol, not!

Not only was the hike heading down not a bushwhack, it was out of this world hiking though some Autumn foliage down into the Grand Canyon. Even though it was easy travel, time was slipping. Most likely cause I was taking photos at every turn.

What started off freezing cold was beginning to get toasty right when I hit the tributary creek. It's said to be seasonal but was flowing very well on this day. I tanked up and did a refreshing head dunk into the frigid water. About a quarter mile further I realized there was a huge waterfall behind me. It couldn't have been more than 20 yards or so from where I crossed but I didn't know it. It was phenomenal. My senses were going into overload after Autumn in September, a trail into the GC I finally enjoy and now a view probably only 0.05% that ever enter this canyon see. I was really beginning to wonder why people don't hike this trail? It just didn't add up.

Back into the desert I felt like I was in typical GC and continued down to BA Creek. Holly cow I didn't know I was crossing a creek with a river swift. Then it hit, I'd lost the trail. I didn't think much of it as it's only about 2 miles to the confluence where Roaring Springs comes down. It didn't take long for me to realize this wasn't in my experience. It was friggen cold and the current was taxing. Twice I tried to find the trail on the southeast bank climbing maybe a hundred feet or so up without luck. I stopped and took a good look at my GPS Route and figured if I continued just a little further the Old BA would come down close to the creek again. It came quick and my third attempt out was a success. The trail here on out though was barely a trail. It was very narrow, washed out in scree spots and obviously less used than above above BA Creek. It didn't matter, to me it was the best damn trail in the world...lol

Onwards to the North Kaibab. Boy I've really gotten relaxed on researching in my old age. What I thought was 3mi and 2k was really 4.9mi and 3.6k. Luckily going up is my specialty and it was over in under 1.5hrs. Nevertheless it felt like I was carrying one of those damn mules. That last mile just messes with your head. Watching the Rim is like watching a plant grow. To top it off I'm passing foreigners like I'm at an international convention. If that wasn't enough puddles of mule sloshed piss dominated the powder pummeled trail. The Old BA was worth it though, I thoroughly enjoyed the hike.

It gets tougher and tougher to fit a hike into my top ten but a mid to late September hike on the Old BA gets my nod :) If you're coming from Phoenix I'd still recommend incorporating it into a multiday venture with other hikes as it's six hours driving each way.
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- joe
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