Monday, May 5, 2014

The Grand Canyon, Arizona

I've visited the Grand Canyon in the past, but this trip was after reading 'Grand Obsession: Harvey Butchart and the Exploration of Grand Canyon' twice! Butchart is the greatest hiker/canyoneer to have explored the Canyon and I saw it through different eyes this time and got all the way from the rim to the Colorado River.

The first two images here were from around 1000ft below the South Rim on the Hermit's Trail. This was an afternoon hike, 2000ft down the trail and back again, just to get acclimated to the terrain and altitude before the big hike planned for the following day. The Hermit's Trail is a lesser trod, unkept trail but feels similar to the kind of path you might find in winding through an olive grove on a Greek Island. The following day we (my wife Sadie and I) woke at 5am to catch the 6am 'hiker's bus' from Bright Angel Lodge to the trail head, a couple of miles away. Fortunately there was hot coffee and tea available from the hotel before the ride. The hike down the South Kaibab Trail is the shortest route to the Canyon floor, but it is also the steepest and this image will hopefully give you a sense of it's steepness. 
You get you first views of the mighty Colorado as you descend the trail and notice it's rich green colour. It used to run muddy brown before the dam at Glen Canyon. At the Canyon floor it's colour is even more saturated. The river here, at the part where the Bright Angel Trail leaves it looked very deep and flowed fast, it has the name Bright Angel Rapids but is not rapid enough to be listed in the Grand Canyon River Guide!
The trail back up the the rim takes you through the oasis of Indian Garden. This cottonwood tree is testament to year round ground water here.Near the top of Bright Angel Trail you need any break you can get from the relentless steep uphill climb. This view at Mile-and-a-Half Resthouse, 1000ft below the rim, was a welcome sight to enjoy. The trail was already in deep shadow when I got to photograph this view and fill-in flash was used with my camera held up-side-down to get the image held in my mind's eye.

Back at the South Rim for 6.15pm this is a challenging but very rewarding day hike. The Park doesn't recommend you do the whole of this in a day, but if you're reasonably fit and set off early enough, with water and snacks you can make it!

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