Saturday, October 25, 2008

Hanging Out at Phantom Ranch

When you are spending the day in the bottom of the Grand Canyon, what do you do?

Our main reason for spending two nights at Phantom Ranch was to give my legs a chance to recover before we hiked out of the canyon. We also traveled far to get to this place, so we wanted to enjoy it.

First thing in the morning, we hiked on the Clear Creek Trail. The rest of the time we did a combination of lounging around outside and exploring Phantom Ranch. Plenty of our fellow hikers spent time in their bunks. I wish there were more comfortable chairs at Phantom Ranch....although we did make good use of various outdoor benches near the creek.

Breakfast and dinner are served in the canteen. Sack lunches are available (if you order ahead).

Other shopping we did at the canteen:
  • You can send postcards the will say "Mailed by Mule" from the canteen, for the standard US Mail postage rate.
  • There are Phantom Ranch T-shirts that are only available at the bottom of the canyon. There were two designs, decorated front and back, so we bought two shirts.
  • You can purchase a bag of ice at dinner, and pick it up the next morning at breakfast. (You can't buy it at breakfast though.) That way we iced up our water bottles to have cool water on the hike out. Our bag of ice was big enough for the two of us, and probably another two or three people. We gave our extra ice away to other hikers at breakfast.

Some people brought books with them. Not a bad idea at all!

The lemonade at the canteen tastes unusually we went back and forth often for refills.

In the early afternoon, we took the 2 mile River Trail loop - back across the black bridge, along a trail on the opposite side of the river, and then across the silver bridge.

It's nice to be able to enjoy this area of the trail again. We were pretty tired when we were here yesterday.

Phantom Ranch is tucked up into that side canyon. The cottonwood trees at the ranch were planted to make the ranch more welcoming.

The mules only cross the river on the black bridge - which has boards laid lengthwise across it so the mules have secure footing. The silver bridge has an open grate for a floor - I'm guessing mules don't like that.

There are all kinds of Grand Canyon adventures going on in this picture: we're hiking, mule riders are passing us, and river rafters are heading down the river.

For some reason, I was really dragging on this hike. That makes me glad that we decided to stay two nights.....I'd rather feel tired walking around a river trail loop than hiking out of the canyon!

As we returned to Phantom Ranch, we passed a deer sitting in tall grass just off the trail. It's hard to see in this picture, but it was just calmly hanging out. Look for the eyes in the center of the photo.

The campsites at Bright Angel Campground look pretty nice. They're close to Bright Angel Creek and have pretty much space and privacy per campsite, especially considering where we are.

These pictures of the dorms at Phantom Ranch are to dispel the myth that "there are luxury accomodations at Phantom Ranch." These are the dorms the hikers stay in - 10 people per dorm in 5 bunk beds. These rooms are luxurious compared to having to bring everything you need in by backpack though!

Mule riders stay in cabins, which have stone exteriors similar to the canteen. We did not see the inside of any of the cabins.

Mule riders we met at dinner said that their necks and upper backs were sore and tired. They also said that one man in his 80's fell off the mule on a steep portion of the trail, but that he wasn't injured. Riding down to Phantom Ranch by mule might be as hard for me as hiking down.

Our main entertainment at Phantom Ranch was the programming put together by Pam, the park ranger stationed at Phantom Ranch. She did an excellent job educating us, and many of the other guests, at two daily sessions - one in the late afternoon under the sycamore tree, and one after dinner in an outdoor amphitheater.

During our time in camp, the four programs we attended were "Grand Canyon Jeopardy", "Plants of the Grand Canyon", "Nocturnal Creatures of the Grand Canyon", and "Grand Canyon Geology". Those talks really added to our experience of the Grand Canyon.

We also met a group of 20-somethings who were volunteering for trail work in the canyon. They'd already been camping there for a month, and had seen no scorpions and no rattlesnakes.

The ranger did show us two scorpions at night. If you shine a black light on a scorpion, it will phosphoresce. Pam searched the mule corral with her black light and found a scorpion. During warmer months, she said that a similar excursion would locate many, many scorpions. Another advantage of October in the Grand Canyon!

Photo taken by Jonbeebe.

Related posts:

Hike Preparation

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