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APRIL 16, 2009   

More Grand Canyon trip pictures & commentary on this site from 4/11 to 4/20. Our travel tips and suggestions at From the Cuyahoga to the Colorado.

Into the Canyon

Snow in the CanyonI set the alarm for 6 a.m. and joined about a dozen others in the Bright Angel lobby at 6:20 waiting for the announcement of the waiting list for Phantom Ranch.

My name was called first and I asked for a bed for a male and one for a female. The worker wrote my name on two blank lines. We were in! I ordered meals—two stew dinners, two breakfasts and two bag lunches.

The next guy on the waiting list also asked for beds for a male and a female, but there was only a single male bed left. He went out disappointed.

We had a big breakfast at the Bright Angel restaurant, checked the contents of our packs one last time, and headed for the trailhead. It was cold (35-40°) and breezy, but the bright sunshine made it look like a good day ahead.

On the trail

Warning sign on Bright Angel trailWe stepped onto Bright Angel Trail at 8:30 a.m. and a few minutes later got to the ever-present warning sign. Near the start of every trail into the Canyon a sign warns that hikers die from exhaustion when they try to hike to the bottom and back in a single day. We had no such plans. We also were hiking in very pleasant, cool weather, not the 100+ degree heat of summer.

In the photo, on the switchback below you can see a mule train taking tourists down. They are stopped to get instructions from the mule wrangler. We walked past them in a couple of minutes, but they soon passed us farther down the trail.

SwitchbackBright Angel trail hits you with a long series of switchbacks early on. Those in the picture aren't as steep as in other places, and it was early and we had a spring in our step. Later things got more difficult.

The Colorado

Colorado River at bottom of Grand CanyonFive and a half hours later we got to the Colorado River, a beautiful sight in more ways than one. We still had another hour to go before we reached Phantom Ranch.

At this point the hike isn't physically difficult but we were tired and more than ready for it to be over.

Silver Bridge over Colorado River, Grand Canyon The Silver Bridge, one of two suspension bridges that cross the river near Bright Angel campground. Both this and the Black Bridge, farther upstream, are wonders of engineering: graceful, strong, beautiful objects that carry people and animals across the river.

Finally, twenty minutes later we were at Phantom Ranch, our home for the night. I was in the luxurious Dorm #12 while Joanne had similar accommodations in #15.

Small brown wooden cabin, Dorm #12Each cabin has five bunk beds, a toilet, shower and sink. As a late-comer I didn't have much of a choice: either top bunk near the front door or top bunk near the side door. I took the side, hoping it would be quieter.

After a hearty family-style meal in the canteen we sat outside for the ranger's talk about the history of the Canyon, then headed off to bed at 9:30 p.m. At least five of my eight bunkmates were already asleep when I climbed into my bunk. In the dark I carefully removed my clothes, trying not to let anything fall off the bed, including myself.

It was surprisingly quiet. I expected snoring, muttering and of course farting, but there was very little of any. I tried recording the cabin sounds but got only silence. I knew there would be a 4:30 wake-up announcement for the 5 a.m. breakfast, so closed my eyes and quickly fell asleep.

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Cuyahoga to Colorado




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2009 APRIL