Again we didn’t rush to get on the 4.7 mile (7.4 k) trail for the day and headed for the Silver Bridge at a still chilly below freezing 10:30am.
The Silver Bridge was constructed in the late 1960s to support the transcanyon pipeline carrying water from Roaring Springs to the South Rim.
This day, the Rio de Colorado, Spanish for “River of Color,” showed some of its truer ruddy self.
Since the completion of Glen Canyon Dam sediments are mostly trapped behind the dam typically leaving the river a crystal blue/green.
Fishery biologist holds brown trout
In addition, some native fishes adapted to the pre-dam warmer, muddier water, are becoming extinct in the cold, clear water which now supports introduced species.
Mule deer bucks none to anxious to leave the River trail
The Civilian Conservation Corps constructed the River Trail, which continues east to the South Kaibab trail and Black Bridge, between 1933 and 1936 to enable hikers and mule riders to reach Phantom Ranch from the Bright Angel Trail.
The 1.6 mile (2.4 km) River Trail climbs above and follows the river passing through a sand dune habitat with vertical walls of Vishnu Schist rising more than 1400 feet (427 m) above our heads.
Where Pipe Creek enters the Colorado River Bright Angel Trail begins it’s slow 3.1 mile (5 km) ascent to Indian Garden where we spent the night.
First following the meanders of Pipe Creek including several shallow crossings.
Next comes the switchbacks known as the Devils Corkscrew and the long traverse through the desert-like Vishnu Schist environment. Every time I hike this part it feels shorter.
This tops out into a narrows through the Tapeats Sandstone showing extensive erosion by Garden Creek.
Groundwater seeping through the rock layers above is stopped by the Bright Angel Shale layer on top of the sandstone and comes out in several springs which have been used by people over a 1000 years.
It’s such a delight to suddenly find myself back in the lush streamside habitat approaching Indian Garden, even with the snow dusted South Rim in sight.
It was an early dinner and quickly into the tent sort of night as we crawled into our sleeping bags to stay warm with a low of 13F and dream of the next day’s 4.6 miles (7.4 km) to top out on the South Rim.