Grand Canyon: Part 1 – Hiking Down

We have quite an adventure planned today! Our goal is to hike to the bottom of the GRAND CANYON!!!

Reading several blogs and informational sites, hiking down and up looks to be pretty strenuous.

Many people have died hiking in the Grand Canyon! πŸ˜±
If anyone’s interested in that, take a look at this gruesome map!

We awake in the Park’s Mather Campground, after a late night of driving from the Antelope Slot Canyons (located further north).

IMG_6788

Looking out the van window, we’re surprised with the amount of snow!
Luckily we’re parked right next to a bathroom, and don’t have to walk far.

IMG_6791-2

With the freezing temperature, we stay inside the van to get our packs ready.
Our large backpacks make moving around quite squishy, but manageable!

IMG_6797

After a quick stop to the visitors center for our trail maps, we park the van in the designated spot and head off to catch a shuttle to the trailhead.

IMG_6801

The Hike Down

Our route is to take the steeper Kaibab Trail down and tomorrow to take the longer (but more gradual) Bright Angel Trail up.

IMG_6813

With the snowfall, it is a little disappointing to find we can’t see into the canyon…. πŸ˜‘

…but we’re still excited to get started!

IMG_6817

Good thing we packed warm jackets! πŸ§£πŸ§€πŸ§¦β˜ƒ

IMG_6819

Amazingly, it’s not long before our fortune turns around.

As we complete our first turn in the canyon, we’re greeted with a very nice surprise….

IMG_6824-2

A faint but still visible RAINBOW

Hopefully this is a sign of good luck!

IMG_6828-2

Descending further, we get an even more amazing sight.
For a moment, the fog clears and we catch our first glimpse into the canyon!

IMG_6834-2

IMG_6844-2

IMG_6838-2

As quickly as the fog leaves…

IMG_6845-2

… it returns.

IMG_6850-2

Still, we continue on our way!

Mules make regular trips up and down the canyon trails, carrying people, gear, and mail.

IMG_6854-2

It’s here we reach our first lookout point.

Ooh Aah Point! 

…and what a view it is!!!

This point is (supposedly) SO beautiful, passers-by cannot resist exclaiming an “ooOoh….. aaAaahhh“……

IMG_6860

Or so we are told…

Out of the clouds

Continuing our descent,  we see the fog for what it really is… canyon clouds!

IMG_6877-2

It’s a rare phenomenon for clouds to form inside the canyon….

IMG_6882-2

and we are extremely fortunate to witness it.

IMG_6885-2

What started with snow and solid fog has turned into something more amazing that we could have imagined.

IMG_6899-2

Layered colors of the canyon walls strike our peering eyes.

IMG_6911-2

IMG_6925-2

Cedar Ridge

About 1.5 miles into the hike, we reach Cedar Ridge.

A common turning point for day hikers, this point provides a place to rest and a waterless bathroom… should the need arise.

IMG_6929

Commonly used as a mule hitching post,

IMG_6931-2

it also offers panoramic views of the canyon.

[Group 1]-IMG_6932_IMG_6934-3 images

[Group 2]-IMG_6941_IMG_6944-4 images

With our energy levels and enthusiasm still high, we continue down without much pause.

IMG_6952-2

Faint, but beautiful, rainbows continue to appear and descend.

IMG_6978-2

The red rock, blue sky, white clouds, and green foliage paint a stunning scene.

[Group 6]-IMG_6987_IMG_6990-4 images

Did you spot the rainbow?

IMG_6985-2

It’s difficult not to take pause

IMG_7058-2

and admire the overlooks.

[Group 9]-IMG_7022_IMG_7024-3 images

It’s here that we relax for a snack and to soak in the sight.

[Group 8]-IMG_7011_IMG_7015-5 images

With our goal being to reach the base and set up camp well before sunset, we pause occasionally but continue on.

[Group 10]-IMG_7060_IMG_7068-9 images

Skeleton Point

At the 3 mile mark we reach Skeleton Point,

IMG_7076

and get a glimpse of the steep switchbacks we’re about to descend.

IMG_7077-2

The sky becomes a crisp blue, as the canyon floor slowly creeps closer

IMG_7071-2

… and the canyon’s edge looms higher above us.

IMG_7103-2

With every corner we turn, we find another spectacular surprise.
Each one more amazing than the last….

IMG_7125-2

Double rainbow!!

20180213_150218

While the rainbows are quite astounding, we can’t let them distract us from the rest of the canyon!

Every direction around us presents something special.

[Group 13]-IMG_7164_IMG_7165-2 images

Oh look!!! An arch!!!

IMG_7140-2

Tip Off

Tip Off offers the last bathroom stop before reaching the bottom of the canyon.

IMG_7161

It’s also commonly used as a hitching post for the mules that march these trails.

They need breaks too!

IMG_7163-2

The rainbow continues to follow us down the trail.

<IMG_7166-2

IMG_7168-2

IMG_7170-2

Looking around us, we see all sorts of beauty!

Towering rocks with wildlife staring down on us…

IMG_7194-2

…closer views of the rock coloration…

IMG_7196-2

… unique formations.

IMG_7205-2

IMG_7198-2

Views Of The Bottom

Setting aside occasional glimpses, it is here we get our first real view of the bottom and the emerald green Colorado River flowing rapidly below!

[Group 14]-IMG_7221_IMG_7228-8 images

A closer look presents an aerial view of Phantom Ranch

IMG_7210-2

where the mules rest, eat, and prepare for tomorrow’s climb.

IMG_7211-2

Left of us is the Silver Bridge… This will mark the start of our return hike tomorrow.

IMG_7235-2

To our right is the Black Bridge, which we hope to be crossing shortly!

IMG_7234-2

IMG_7250-2

The flat ledge and warm sun make this a great place to take a break and eat a snack.

IMG_7256

With our stomachs full, we press on along the final stretch of trail.

This rock looks like it could slide down the ridge at any moment!

IMG_7276-2

Descending down the final stretch, we spot a tunnel leading to the bridge.

IMG_7284-2

The Bottom Of The Canyon

IMG_7292

IMG_7299

There it is! The light at the end of the tunnel!

IMG_7300

and the Black Bridge!

IMG_7303

IMG_7312

We know we’re close, and we’re excited!!

IMG_7323

Before reaching the ranch, we happen across some Puebloan village ruins!

It’s remarkable to think that a small village once inhabited this isolated area of the canyon.

Signs around the site state that a small group of Puebloan people lived here from about 500-1250 A.D.

IMG_7328

Puebloan people don’t believe their ancestors abandoned their homes simply due to harsh conditions.

It’s believed the ancient people felt an imbalance of the physical and spiritual worlds, causing social and environmental catastrophes.
These events were seen as signs as a time to move on, fulfil prophecy and uphold obligations as ‘caretakers’ of the landscape.

IMG_7329-2

Continuing on,

[Group 15]-IMG_7319_IMG_7321-3 images

We spot the first building of Phantom Ranch!

Could be living quarters for the mule team members?

IMG_7357

Our pace quickens as the end is near!

Bright Angel Campground is now right before our eyes!

IMG_7360

Welcome to Bright Angel Campground

Here we are!

IMG_7368

The welcome sign provides crucial information about the area.

IMG_7365

We carefully select our site for the night.

Spot #29!

It’s nothing fancy, but it’s home for tonight!

IMG_7369

It’s an entirely new perspective to look up at the canyon, rather than down.

IMG_7377-2

Here’s our hike summary!!

Phantom Ranch

Before cooking dinner, we want to explore the ranch a little.

Closer to the cabins we find a second mule coral!

IMG_7384

A ranger station!

IMG_7386

An amphitheater!

IMG_7397

and a gift shop/resturant.

That’s right!
If you don’t want to carry down food, you can have a warm meal served to you right here at the bottom!

It does fill up, so making reservations far in advance is a must!

IMG_7401

For us, it’ll be what we carried down… yummy chili cooked on a small butane stove! πŸ₯£

Heading back to the campsite, we almost literally run into some unshy mule deer πŸ¦Œ

IMG_7408

Did we pass these guys on the way here without noticing!?

IMG_7418

They sure let us get close.

If it weren’t for the numerous signs asking us not to pet them, I’m sure we could have.

IMG_7416

IMG_7425

Returning back to our site, we are spent.
Time to finally take off our shoes and relax.

Our feet sure do thank us for it.

As the sun says goodnight, it offers us some final views of the canyon.

IMG_7389-2

IMG_7427-2

We crawl into our teeniest of tiny tents with our two large backpacks and call it a night!

IMG_7448-2

Leave us a comment! πŸ˜€