…And descend we did…On Wednesday, we made the trek into the GRAND “Hoover Dam” CANYON from the North Rim. Dropping over 7000 feet in elevation. It was most exciting and exhilarating!
It was 7 miles in to our lunch site where we enjoyed some good eats and exchanged stories with one another before setting off along a creek and navigating across several bridges before we reached the historic Phantom Ranch – another 7 miles later. Surreal. Yea, that will be my descriptor.
At times, it felt like we were the only human beings on the planet until we passed another and determined, no, we were not as we were greeted or encountered similar two legged characters, strapped with a pack, sporting a hat and most often clicking away with their walking sticks. Nary a one we met passed by without a friendly greeting.
We were the first of the hikers to land at the ranch and this meant we got to claim our bunks. This would mean the sought after bottom bunks for our group. I won’t go into too much detail here, but safe to say the top bunks can be full of surprises. The woman above me took a fall out of a top bunk sometime in the night. It took me a bit to land on an acceptable trail name for her, but we concluded with Tumble-ina. I let her trail guide know that she was not a fan of the name “Thumper” should he want to use it from time to time. Yea, as Gigi Galore from Pottery School would say, I can stir up some dust.
Phantom Ranch, located at the floor and nestled along the Colorado River, would be our resting spot for two nights. Everything was perfect – weather, food, views, and the people. Oh, we saw the mules too. I don’t think they are asses, but I did like to call them that anyway. We took a hike on one of our days at the ranch criss-crossing over the Colorado River by way of foot bridges, tunnels and and up and down trails. FUN! Impressive these bridges are as are all of the trails that lead in, out, and around this GRAND canyon of ours. The Colorado River, SWIFT and WIDE! I do believe it is 277 miles long.
After the second night, we were to be kicked out as a new set of characters would be marching their way to the ranch and staking claim on our bunks and the seats at the canteen for their meals and stories and such. Our wake up call was at 4:30am. Side note: night two, Tumble-ina was able to stay safely in her bed rather than falling like a rock to the floor. We all met in the canteen for a hearty breakfast with pancakes and syrup (YUM!) before filling up our water bottles and taping up our blisters setting out on the trail that led us out to the South Rim.
The climb out of the canyon was just as impressive as the descent. We meandered along the Colorado River – across the bridges and streams and up and around, along a gushing creek before turning inward slowly climbing our way up via switch backs through Jacob’s Ladder and then the Cork Screw of the Bright Angel Trail. It would be just under 6,000 feet of an elevation gain and 10 miles to the rim. It was easy enough until lunch time – which was at the 5 mile marker – and then my calves finally seized up. The challenge remained fun though.
At every turn, you could take a sneak back and down into the canyon and see from whence you came and this, this was IMPRESSIVE. I enjoyed, as we all did, every single step of the way. Our closing dinner was fittingly at the historic El Tovar lodge located just a stone’s throw (truly, it was) from the canyon’s edge. After that, pure exhaustion and a great night’s sleep was enjoyed.
I now rest back at the homestead in the same chair that I was arm chair traveling a couple weeks back where this trip came across my radar. Sometimes ya just gotta go when the feeling is right and this experience and adventure proved to be a huge success for me and my fellow travelers. Peter – pronounced Peet-A – was kind enough to send photos, so I will grab one or two and set your free for now.