We arrived at the Grand Canyon about 10am. Went straight to the BackCountry Office to check in and find out about trail conditions. Our expectations for the hike are high and we are very excited.
Our plans had already changed from Rim to Rim to Rim. The North Rim is snowed in and damage has been found to the trail preventing us going beyond the Cottonwood Campground.
The Ranger on duty warned us that there was knee high water over the trail just south of Cottonwood campground preventing us from camping there. She changed our permit with an extra day at Bright Angel campground. Hoping that the water running through Wall Creek would go down. Normally this is a little creek or dry creek and easy to cross.
We are so impressed with the rangers. They are fantastic and enthusiastic.
Next stop was Phantom Ranch check in desk to make sure they know we will need the meals at the Canteen that we had already paid for online. We have two breakfast and dinners at the Ranch.
We have a couple hours before check in time at our motel so it is time to play tourist at the rim. First, we look around the small museum at the lodge.
The shuttle took us to Hermits Rest. This is a building at the west most location that we can travel on the south rim. In the past, it was a place of rest and refection. Now, it is a gift shop. Oh, well. We did get a great view of the muddy Colorado River.
Warning short History lesson ahead:
The Grand Canyon is over 270 miles long.
At its widest almost 18 miles wide.
The maximum depth is over a mile or about 6,000 feet
The canyon has been used by people for thousands of years. There are eleven different tribes that have been identified to have used the canyon over the centuries. All have their own story of its creation but most reference a huge flood cutting the canyon.
In the 1500's the Spanish explorers came to the area, the Hopi were guides. Soon the south rim became a small village of miners and eventually entrepreneurs trying to attract tourists.
Throughout the 1800's there were many times that trappers and miners came to explore the canyon down from the rim. In 1869, John Wesley Powel took the first scientific exploration of the canyon on Colorado river mapping and documenting the canyon and river path. Many more followed with each focused on a different portion of science but primarily geology.
Several mines were started in the canyon but most failed after a short period of time. Dan Hogan came to the canyon in 1890. He and some friends are the first known hikers to complete a rim-to-rim-to-rim backpacking trip through the central corridor in 1891.
Hogan started The Orphan mine in 1893 and which was 1000 feet down from the rim. It operated until 1969 when the land was transferred to the park service. The mine produced 4 million pounds of uranium oxide, 6 million pounds of copper, 100 thousand pounds of silver, and 3,000 pounds of vanadium oxide. The value of the uranium alone has been estimated at $40 million.
Another mine that was important to know of was the Last Chance Mine which operated from 1890-1929. They built the original Grand View Hotel and stagecoach trails from Flagstaff. Though the mine was very profitable the primary reason that this operation stands out is that they built much of the Bright Angel trail.
By the early 1900's, buildings were being constructed along the south rim to support tourism. Many of the early buildings were designed by Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter who was an American architect and designer. She was one of the very few female American architects in her day and lived from 1869 to 1958. She was AMAZING! All of the iconic buildings of the Grand Canyon park were her design. We ate in the Phantom Ranch Canteen and stayed in a cabin she designed. Look her up if you want to know more.
I could have added twice as much as I have already but this is more about the hike than the history of the canyon. The Harvey Girls, CCC constructions, political battles over control, founding of the Phantom Ranch,... More on our visit to the ranch later.
End History... Sort of...
We stopped at the location where the park was dedicated 1908 by Teddy Roosevelt. Roosevelt loved the canyon and visited often. He also used the cabins at Phantom Ranch including the one we stayed in.
We took pictures at the beginning of Bright Angel Trail. This is the trail we will be returning on in 7 days. It will be quite a climb from the bottom.
We road the shuttle bus to the South Kaibab Trailhead to see what the trail looked like. Some of the switchbacks can be seen and the snow on the North Rim is in the distance. It will be a challenge. South Kaibab is considered the hardest of the trails to hike down. We will back here at sunrise to start our hike down into the canyon.
Time for some pizza for lunch and off to our hotel, Grand Canyon Inn. It is 35 minutes south of Grand Canyon NP. The furniture was neat. I just hope the bed is better than the last motel.
We get some dinner and some sleep. Our alarms are set for dark thirty.
We are a couple who have started on a new adventure...