Friday, October 24, 2008

Are We There Yet?

OK, we've had lunch, had plenty of water, and are set to keep hiking!!

We can see Panorama Point below us.

I'm dwarfed by the inner canyon landscape.

Rumor has it that when the CCC worked on the River Trail, they took a piano or pool table down the South Kaibab to provide entertainment at Phantom Ranch. Looking at these trails, that's hard to believe!

The black bridge (shown thanks to our zoom lens) is how we'll cross the river on the South Kaibab.

But this is the un-zoomed picture showing that we still have plenty of hiking to do.

Most people take between 4-6 hours to hike this trail.

Yay!!! We made it to Panorama Point!!

Lucky for us, a backpacking guided tour group is waiting for a straggler, so there are plenty of willing photographers.

Generally there are the right number of people on this trail....we're hiking on our own out of sight of anyone nearby, but we can usually see people in the distance farther down the trail. I guess that if we waited 15-30 minutes, some one coming down the trail behind us would catch up. It's not too crowded, but not too isolated.

Now we just have to descend to that beach! This section of trail averages 22% grade, the steepest portion of the trail. We're feeling pretty good, but my right shin is getting tired.

We're making steady progress. The Colorado River looks really still and calm from here.

The black suspension bridge seemed a little scary to me before we started this hike. After hiking on all of these steep trails, I have no worries about something as fenced in as a bridge!

The black bridge starts at the other side of this tunnel.

We're walking over the Colorado River!! Now we can see that there's a lot of current.

On the canyon floor it feels noticeably hot. Of course, it's October, so it's only in the 80's. In the summer, this section of the trail would be well over 100°.

There are pueblo ruins just off the trail. These ruins have been dated to A.D. 1050 to A.D. 1140 approximately. Three or four families might have lived here.

Looking back at the black bridge, it feels great to know that we made it!!

The stream we're walking along is Bright Angel Creek. It's so refreshing to be near water and vegetation again.

A mule deer and two fawns are crossing the creek as we arrive.

Phantom Ranch is paradise for deer - plenty of food and water, almost no predators.

The deer are obviously used to hikers. We saw them often during our stay - including some deer jumping into the mule pen and eating food meant for the mules.

We're happy to see the first building.....but it's the residence for the rangers stationed at Phantom Ranch.

Behind the mule corral, we see a welcome sign and the canteen where we'll check into our dorms and buy something cold to drink.

We made it!!! Must be time to soak our feet in chilly Bright Angel Creek!

Our GPS says we've hiked 8.3 miles and descended 4700 feet. It took us 5 hours and 45 minutes... we went slowly and really enjoyed the trail. We're tired, but not unbelievably tired. Great hike!!

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