Sunday, April 05, 2015

Arizona Road Trip (8): To Colorado River and Back Up

Hike down Bright Angel Trial in south rim of Grand Canyon National Park is a beautiful hike and a bit tough mainly because of the heat on the way back.Unlike the majority of hikes the challenge is were you're going back! That's where you exert most of your energy and usually is hot. There are several signs in the park and it's indicated in the brochures and the Rangers also tell you not to go to Colorado River in one day and come back up but that's for the kids whom you see truck loads of them in the park and the old farts, posers and wimps who walk around with their iPad and iPhone and take photos of themselves and their partners!
I started early to beat the heat and I have to admit that I was completely not satisfied with my start but it was OK. I didn't have a really good sleep the night before and was woken up but some fucking selfish fools who were going to hell, I hope, at 04:30 AM! I went to the local McDonald's, as I usually do before my hikes and scrambles, to get a coffee and the guy looked like he was crazy because when I asked for a medium coffee he was going to charge me $2.89!!! I told him to cancel the order but he got a $1 from me and gave me the coffee! That was another reason why I though he must have been crazy. Anyways I got the hell out and drove to the park. The Rangers were there early morning and they checked my pass. I found a good spot and walked towards the trail-head. Here how I did the hike before I provide any detail:

Start time at trail-head: 06:20 hours

Arrival at Colorado River: 09:50 hours.

Total time on the trail on the way down: 03:30 hours.

Start time from Colorado River: 10:10 hours

Arrival at trail-head: 13:58 ~ 14:00 hours.

Total time on the trail on the way up: ~ 03:50 hours

The total time of the hike: ~ 07:20 hours (including short stops for rest and photography)

Total elevation gain (Colorado River to trail-head); ~ 755.9 m. or 2479.98 ft.

Total distance walked (return trip): 25.74 Km or 15.99 Miles.

Now the other details about the hike: This is a nice hike and I had not done any similar to that. It has it's uniqueness but other hikes I have done each have their beauty and uniqueness as well. So there's no way that you can say Bright Angel Trial hike is the best. It's similar to comparing Orange and Apple. Eagle's Nest hike is wonderful but cannot be compared to this. Ptarmigan Tunnel and Crypt Lake are each awesome and beautiful in their own way with their own specifications. I can go on with the list. Nevertheless when I stated there was barely anybody on the trail and it was a bit cold but I was OK. I had my exercise suit on. One of the reason that I always intend to start a hike or scramble very early is that you not only beat the heat and crowd but you have a much bigger chance to see wildlife. Here after few minutes I bumped to a herd of Deer (not sure what kind) who were grazing around the path. I kept going and the first signs of humanity appeared after me. The more you go down, the more magic sights of Grand Canyon disappear but there are lots of other beauties on your way: birds, rodents, different plants and vegetation, cliffs with different shapes and colours and they are all unique to Grand Canyon
The US Forest Service has kept (and still keeping) the trail very well and it's easy to walk on. There are rest station, I would call them, on the way that you could washroom or seek shade. Not all of them have potable water though but I didn't stop for water even once. Then you reach Indian Garden which is a very beautiful campground with all facilities. It, looked like to me that the stream, waterfall, all the plants, trees everything is man made and it was, I think but it is very beautiful place. This is where people stay so they can go down to Colorado River the next morning or so! How childish and weak someone could be?! But I understand people are different. Funny thing is when I was on the trail going down to the river or coming back up to the rim, people were trying to show how strong and fast they could be!! They had slept for at least 6 hours in the campground and walked half of the way and they thought they were exceptional. After all the pathetic losers didn't know that there's no race in hiking or scrambling but whatever! 
A view of Indian Garden campground on Bright Angel Trial.
There is another set of switchbacks after Indian Garden if you want to get to Colorado River but many divert their route and go to Plateau Point, which is said a very beautiful viewing point for or take Tonto Trail but I kept going down because I wanted to see how hard it could have been to get to the river in one day and come back up. I finally reached Colorado River, as I stated above, at around 10 to 10 AM. There are restrooms and other facilities by the river as well but I didn't check them. Didn't need them. The river was not very wide and didn't seem very dip but that's only an assumption. Later on I saw photos showing a metal overpass but It would have been somewhere else. I wonder if you could cross over the river and continue to North Rim and stay there. Maybe I consider that as another hike for future or do it north to south. I started going back up after a short break and taking a few photos. Everything was fine until Indian Garden and even after that but in about 1.5 hour to the top and that's a critical phase in hiking, I started feeling tiredness especially because of the heat and I had already lost my headband which protects my forehead from direct sunlight. I applied sun screen and kept going. At one point I wanted to drink water and I realized I was out and there was no water available until I reached the top. The trail got busy with all sorts of idiot! Moms had sleeper type shoes on and holding their babies!!! I don't know what kind of moron does that to only take a few photos of her over 200 Lbs. body and post it to Facebook! 
Anyway the last hour was very hard but I got myself back to the trail-head shortly before 14:00 without having a single minute break after Indian Garden and no water. I didn't want to repeat what I had to do in Lost Dutchman State Park. After reaching the hotel I was so tired that I laid down for few minutes but couldn't sleep.
Part of Bright Angel Trail is seen in the deep valley. This is after passing Indian Garden campground and you still have more than an hour to reach Colorado River. Most hikers have difficulty coming back up from this section and I saw many panting which is normal but I never understood what the purpose of those metal sticks were!!? Completely useless in a well-maintained staircase-like trail such as this. I never needed one! 
 There are a lot to do in Grand Canyon but that was the only hike I did and I really enjoyed it. Whether I will go again? Yes. probably. I still like to try that trail which takes you to the metal bridge and I still like to see the North Rim. Grand Canyon is a wonderful place but need attention and organization. It requires stricter rules for the visitors and hikes but in an environment which money rule, not many rules could be defined and enforced. The US Forest Service cares only about the money. I'm not saying they don't do anything but what they do is not enough. They charge a good amount for everyone steps in the park but after that everyone is pretty much is on his or her own. There's no supervision and watch. Unless something serious happens nobody's going to do anything about this lovely, incredible place. 
(Photo, top: A view of Grand Canyon. The photos you see in posters, magazines and others which look much better than this are all taken, or mostly, by professional photographer who equipped themselves with wide lenses. This, I believe, is not bad compare to them considering I had a normal lens on)

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