Friday, October 18, 2019
Serendipity doesn’t come often but when it does…
Even in my early fifties, walking from the Grand Canyon rim down to the Colorado River below sounded like quite the pleasant adventure. After all, the elevation change was ONLY four fifths of a mile from Bright Angel Trailhead (6,840 ft. elevation) to River Rest House (2,500 ft. elevation). I would have wanted to spend the night in the Bright Angel Campground which is a few miles further along down the trail and across the Colorado River.
At this point in my life, I feel like I could make it down and back but it would take some doing. Careful preparation and physical conditioning. New equipment. First Aid training.
The above warning, in a pamphlet found at the Bright Angel Trailhead, resonates. That could be any of us. Even me.
On the way back from Hermit’s Rest, as we passed the Trailview Overlook. From the bus we could see the Village across the canyon. I resolved to come back on Friday to get pictures.
Early Friday morning, I caught the Hermit’s Rest bus at Village Route Transfer and got off at Trailview Overlook, the first stop. Looking across the canyon toward Grand Canyon Village, motion caught my attention. Riders on burros headed down into the canyon. Suddenly, Bright Angel Trail wasn’t just squiggly lines on a map. It was there, right in front of me. An active byway full of people going down, down, down into the canyon.
Much of Bright Angel Trail is visible from the Canyon Rim. Now it makes sense why this bus stop is called Trailview Overlook. Duh!
The trail even includes a tunnel called Upper Tunnel. I would find out later that the trail has another tunnel, Lower Tunnel, that wasn’t seen from the canyon rim.
The trail, carved out of the canyon wall, is steep enough to call a cliff. A person falling off the side would have a series of long falls punctuated by short bounces off the canyon wall.
It is seven tenths of a mile along the Rim Trail between Trailview Overlook and Village Route Transfer. The walk back along the Rim Trail provided even more opportunities to see the trail from above.
Indian Garden, 4.5 miles from Bright Angel Trailhead, has a Ranger Station, visitor information, emergency phone, potable water, flush toilets and campsites. Each campsite has a shade shelter. Anything further along Bright Angel Trail is considered too far to round-trip hike in one day.
Further along the Rim Trail, the view changes. Bright Angel Trail is closer making Burro poop visible in the lower right hand portion of the trail shown above.
Looking almost straight down from the Rim Trail, the ruggedness of the terrain Bright Angel Trail traverses becomes apparent. The vertical drops off the sides of the trail are sobering.
The Upper Tunnel, at the bottom of the picture, is a ways down from the trailhead at the top of the picture.
Bright Angel Trail passes right by Kolb Studio‘s lowest floor.
Continuing on the Rim Trail, past the Village Route Transfer bus stop, Bright Angel Trailhead appears on the canyon side of the trail. The trailhead can’t be missed. The main sign, seen at the top of this post, is prominent as are a number of informational displays explaining Bright Angel Trail’s history.
Even though it was still early morning, hikers were returning from their Grand Canyon hikes carrying full packs. The Rim Trail continues past the trailhead.
Hikers can find relief at the restrooms across the Rim Trail from the trailhead.
The woman above was explaining to her toddler that Daddy would be back soon from his hike into the canyon. The child didn’t understand why she couldn’t hike down into the canyon with Daddy. The mother was very sweet.
The Upper Tunnel began to make more sense after seeing both sides of it. The Village Route Transfer bus stop is visible in the upper left hand side of the picture. Across the canyon, on the right side of the picture, Bright Angel Trail snakes along the canyon wall.
Continuing along the Rim Trail, I stopped at Bright Angel Lodge’s Fountain for chamomile tea. Outside, I sat on a bench enjoying the tea, the sun and the canyon view. Along came a woman who set three pairs of hiking boots down on the wall. Getting up, I walked over to the woman and pointed at the boots. “What’s the deal?” I said, smiling. She said that she and her friends had just finished hiking out of the canyon that morning and wanted an appropriate memento of the occasion. “Wow! Cool.” I said. Her friends arrived as I was leaving. Looking back a the three of them I realized they were my age or older. All in good shape.
Maybe, just maybe, I could hike the canyon too.
Hope to see you on the road ahead!