I own no land, instead I have wheelestate. I’ve been a full time RVer since 1997. Working summers as a Park Ranger takes me to many beautiful places and playing during the winter takes me to many more. This blog is simply the story of my life's adventures.


Thank you for stopping by. Just to let you know, I'm still blogging but have moved to Geogypsytraveler. Hope you'll follow my adventures. Just click here.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Hiking Grand Canyon Day 4 - To the Top

01 30F morning at Indian Garden GRCA NP AZ (1024x768)

Just frozen brains

It was hard to get out of our sleeping bags that morning at Indian Garden. Low 13 F! Both of us had ice on our stocking caps. Yet nature and coffee called.

02 Cheops Pyramid & NR from Indian Garden GRCA NP AZ pano (1024x410)

Looking at the North Rim, Home Sweet Home

After breakfast we walked west towards Plateau Point overlook to warm up before heading up 3100 feet (945 m) for the final trek of 4.6 miles (7.4 km).

03 Snow on the SR & Mike on Bright Angel trail GRCA NP AZ (1024x768)

Yes, that’s Mike in front of that over weight pack

The trail starts up rather gradually across the Tonto Formation. Then Jacobs Ladder switchbacks across the widest band of exposed rock, the Redwall Limestone. Usually an impenetrable rock face, Bright Angel trail was built in an ancient fault zone that creates a break in this sheer cliff. (Note the offset on the light-colored wide layer almost at the top of the Coconino Sandstone.)

04 Mule train passing 3-mile house Bright Angel trail GRCA NP AZ (1024x768)

Mule train passing below resthouse

Three-mile Resthouse sits at the top of the Redwall, a dividing line between forest and desert-scrub habitats.

05 Snow on SR above Bright Angel trail GRCA NP AZ (1024x768)

From here the trail travels more gradually over crumbly layers of shale mixed with limestone and sandstone. And, of course more switchbacks, with waterbars that are logs across the trail to keep it from washing away. Sort of like unevenly spaced steps with a rise of 6-18 inches (15-45 cm).

06 Snow on SR from Bright Angel trail GRCA NP AZ (1024x768)

Next stop, Mile-and-a-Half Resthouse, which also offers compost toilets and during summer potable water and sits below yet another steep cliff face of Coconino Sandstone. Both resthouses provide a sheltered place to drop the every growing heavier packs and have a snack. (Eating would seem to lighten the load but didn’t feel that way.)

07 Mike on snowy Bright Angel trail GRCA NP AZ (1024x768)

Plus couldn’t stop for long or the body would start to chill.

08 Second tunnel Bright Angel trail GRCA NP AZ (1024x821)

Seeing the second tunnel gave hope that we were almost at the top. Well after many more switchbacks and waterbars that is.

09 Icycles along Bright Angel trail GRCA NP AZ (1024x768)

By the time we got to First tunnel I was too tired to lift my feet let alone the camera.

10 Sunset over Indian Garden, Plateau Point & NR from Bright Angel trail GRCA NP AZ (1024x768)

But once at the top with no heavy pack on my back I turned to see where we had been. I felt triumph and awe filled with wonder. Plus hunger so strong I was very cranky when Mike said to pick up my pack to catch the bus to where our truck was parked. That was quickly resolved with dinner at the Arizona Room of Bright Angel Lodge where we sat in quiet reflection and watched sunset over the canyon.

11 Sunset from the Villiage SR GRCA NP AZ (1024x522)


Sally in WA said...

It must be the book effect. I am totally enjoying your trek reports! And of course the photos that show the magnificence of it all!

Diane said...

After that chilly start I was also feeling tired by the time I got to the top. Shoooo, I was glad there was a bus back to the truck so I could sit with you and enjoy that amazing sunset :-) Diane

Elaine said...

I enjoyed following along with you on your hike! After such strenuous exercise that beautiful sunset must have looked extra special.

Kathie Brown said...

Gaelyn, do you live in heaven? Just beautiful!

Janie said...

Looked chilly on the way up, but the view from the top was spectacular! Dinner after a long, hard hike is always extra delicious. And the sunset was a special reward for all the hard work, too.

Firefly the Travel Guy said...

Oh that last view is the cherry on top. How I wish to some day be able to visit this beautiful area.

Arija said...

That was so beautiful!!!!
I certainly would not have been up for schlepping that backpack, quite a heroic effort. So glad you had a nice dinner with the sunset thrown in.

Pat said...

I don't do well in the cold, at least on long hikes, but this looks sooooo tempting....I'll let Mike carry my pack. :)

Anonymous said...

Brrr! That is a chilly start to the day. But something you will always remember! What a beautiful adventure you two had! Were there many other people hiking down into the canyon that time of year? I am sure people do all year long, but not nearly in the numbers that you see in summer.

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

What an adventure. And so well documented. Great photos. You will remember this trek forever.

Ruth said...

My goodness, it looks cold! But the sunset and canyon photos are stunning.

Silver Fox said...

Gaelyn, it looks like an interesting time to go hiking in the Canyon - and you have some great photos showing the entire trek.

Katie said...

What an incredible hike, I love that you made it to the top just in time to get sunset pictures. So was this the Bright Angel trail the whole time? I'm getting ready to book my first Grand Canyon hiking trip with a group called Just Roughin' It. I really think this trail looks beautiful, but I'm not sure I'd be ready for it - I might just have them determine what trail would be best for my skill level. Either way I know I'll have incredible views like in your pictures from any of the trails, thanks for sharing.

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