Day 3: Grand Canyon, Part 3
(This is part 3 of a 9 part series. Click here to start at day 1.)
By 3:45 am Thursday we were crossing the Colorado River and heading along the Bright Angel trail. This trail seemed much more hospitable than the Kaibab. After following the Colorado River for about 1 ½ miles it headed up the canyon following a stream. We both commented that the stream would have been a welcomed sight on the way down. The trail was well illuminated by the bright moon so headlamps were not necessary. We both used our hiking poles which helped us maintain a steady and stable pace on the rocky surface of the trail. After about another mile of hiking back and forth across the stream as it rose up the canyon, the trail started up a steep section of numerous switchbacks that ended near a great plateau formation. The trail followed next to the plateau for another mile or so until we came to the densely treed and well watered area called the Indian Garden. This is the half way point of the Bright Angel Trail. By now the moonlight was replaced by light from the sun, but because of the massive canyon walls, it would be still some hours before the sun would penetrate into the valley & bake the Bright Angel trail. The thought that we only had 4 ½ miles to go seemed to help motivate us.
We stopped for a break at Indian Garden and I thought I had a pebble in my shoe. Unfortunately it was a blister forming on my big toe. I wrapped the toe with tape and hoped that it would not cause any serious effects on my remaining hiking plans. It must have been a good plan because I kept that toe taped for the next 6 days and it never prevented me from enjoying the next five National Parks. At the 3 Mile (to go) rest-stop we started to talk to four sisters who were enjoying a family reunion at the park. We leap-frogged with them, alternately hiking and resting, while joking all the rest of the way to the rim. That made the time and journey through the last couple of very steep miles go by rather quickly for us tired senior citizens.
We reached the canyon rim around 10:30 am. During our ascent we only had to walk in direct sunlight for about 15 minutes. It took us about 6 – 1/2 hours to hike uphill 4500 vertical feet in 9 ½ miles. The air was delightful at the rim and we felt energized. Thank goodness, since we had a 5+ hour drive to Monticello, Utah ahead of us.
Mark wanted to see the Needles section of Canyonlands National Park so it was the best strategy to get a motel in Monticello; get a good rest after our Grand Canyon adventure; and start early on Day 5 in Canyonlands. But before Day 4 arrived we would also take a side trip to Monument Valley to see the iconic buttes that had been featured in numerous “westerns” that were made in the 50’s and 60’s. The 17 mile road that meanders around the buttes is very rustic at best. There were so many washouts, ruts and bumps that after the first mile or so we decided that we did not want to jeopardize the condition of the car so we left Monument Valley behind in a cloud of dust and hightailed it to Monticello, Utah.
Click here for day 4.