The next day was my big adventure. In order to camp in the Grand Canyon, you need a backcounty permit. I had one, for a campground called “Indian Garden”, which is about 1,300 feet above the Colorado River. My first choice, was to stay right at the bottom, at the Bright Angel Campground, but I was unable to get a permit for that.
That meant that I’d have to hike all the way down to the River, then partway back up to get to my campground for the night.
A long stretch.
I had been training for it. If you read my more recent hiking blog entries in Ohio, you might have noticed that I mentioned carrying a 40-pound pack. Well, now you know why I was doing so.
One reason for such weight it to carry enough water. The bottom of the canyon runs about 20° hotter than the rim. That means daytime highs this time of year of around 105°. You dry out quickly in such conditions.
My route was a fairly standard one: down the South Kaibab Trail, and then back up the Bright Angel Trail, with the overnight stay at Indian Garden.
So, here we go.
The South Kaibab Trail is one of the steeper trails into the Grand Canyon. Here’s how it starts out (a couple of hundred feet down).
That’s at around 6:30 in the morning. And I was late getting started.
Here I am at “Ooh Aah” point. Somebody got really creative coming up with that one.
Here’s the view looking down on O’Neill Mesa.
And here I am having managed to climb down quite a bit below it.
Notice that the trail is really pretty crowded. There are a lot of people who use this trail, as it is the shortest one down in (however, it is also the hottest, having less and less shade as you go in).
This is also the outgoing trail for the mule trains.
This was a garbage run. Basically (but not fully), mules are the only way in or out. So, they do runs heading down with food supplies, and then runs coming back up with the garbage.
This is all for Phantom Ranch, a rustic “lodge” down at the bottom of the canyon. Some folks choose to ride the mules there and back. Others get reservations and hike down and up themselves.
Getting close to the bottom, the colorado River comes into view. In this shot, you can see the river, and the Black Bridge that goes over it. You might even be able to see the tunnel that leads to the Black Bridge.
But if you couldn’t, here it is:
You may notice something else. Yes, those are mox & sox. By now it was around 10:00am, and the trail was heating up something fierce. I managed to stay barefoot for about 5 miles, but I sure wasn’t going to burn my soles just to prove I could possibly (or possibly not) go further.
As I’ve said before (now slightly modified):
I may be crazy, but I try not to be stupid.
Also, quite frankly, I can walk faster with the moccasins (particularly when a bit footsore).
Here’s the view walking across the Black Bridge.
You can see that many rafts have put in for a bit. There was constant raft traffic the whole time I walked next to the river.
Finally, I made it to Bright Angel Creek, a place to cool off. Well, kind of. There was water there (drinkable), and there was water there (lying in the creek).
There is also a heliport there, one other way stuff can be brought in, but much more expensive than the mules.
In this case, they had just had a major water pipeline break up on the north side of the canyon. It even washed out part of the North Kaibab Trail, and they were working hard to fix it. (Fortunately, there was still water at Bright Angel, even though up top they had warned us otherwise).
It was HOT down there. The temperature by my little thermometer was 102°, but it was probably more. And I was not yet at my campsite.
Permits are required to camp in the Grand Canyon, and my permit was for a campsite called Indian Garden, 4.6 miles away, and up 1,300 feet. Also, it was getting close to noon, the worst time possible for hiking in the heat.
I spent about an hour at Bright Angel cooling off (though I was feeling a bit light-headed), and then decided I could do a short 1.2 miler to the River Resthouse.
Now, the River Resthouse is really not much more than a place with shade sitting next to Pine Creek. Hey, better than nothing.
So, off I went.
Man, it was hot. It was so hot that my water got hot. It was just sitting there in the sun as I hiked.
When I made it to the River Resthouse, there was another couple (from Germany) there, hanging out and cooling off. Before long, another party arrived with a man who was suffering a rapid heartbeat.
We all hung out there until 4:00pm, which is exactly what I’d planned on doing in the first place. We worked on getting water into our systems, and electrolytes. And soaking our clothing to help us cool off. There was no fresh water there, though, so I had to keep drinking 100° water. Yugh.
You may also notice no more pictures. I was just too exhausted to take any more.
As I said, finally, at around 4:00, we all headed up to Indian Garden. I, at least, had a reservation there; the other folks had to go all the way to the top.
So, next time I’ll write about arriving at Indian Garden, and finishing the climb back out. (I promise a few pictures for that.)