Up early, by 5am, but we have over an hour before we need to head to Phantom Ranch for breakfast so we break camp and put all but the food in our packs.
On our walk to the Ranch Canteen, we passed the Wonder Women and Mary Poppins packing up their equipment. We said Goodbye, thanked them again for their videos, and wished them a safe hike. They are heading out of the canyon today and will be well ahead of us by the time we finish breakfast and start up the trail.
We were a bit early so got some coffee and relaxed at a picnic table. Squirrels, hummingbirds, ravens, and a deer kept us entertained while we waited. At breakfast, we had really good conversations with a couple of physical therapists. By the time we were finished, we were stuffed. All the eggs, pancakes, sausage, bacon, fruit that we could eat.
There are several items around the canteen from days past.
Today, we hike south on Bright Angel Trail to Havasupai Gardens Campground. It is 5 miles with only a 1500 ft. elevation change. We were heading out by 8:30am. Shawna's feet are better except for her big toe on her right foot. She has “moleskin” which hikers use to pad and protect toes.
WOW! The river is WAY up. We were warned that the release of water would raise the river level. It is impressive.
We cross the silver bridge for the last time on this trip and turn up the canyon toward the south rim.
The climb goes through dramatic transitions. For the first mile and a half, we head west along the river and pass old rock walls, dry, but the Colorado is still in view.
For a little while, we follow the river but soon turn south towards the rim.
We did see a few flowers but also a small snake.
The trail then turns south, up, and into a ravine where we cross a small stream several times. The views back down show just how much we have climbed.
A little later there are small trees and grass. This then develops into large trees and a small meadow. Garden creek wooded area is such a surprise over the rest of the area. Suddenly, we are in shade and cool with lots of green when most of the canyon is almost exclusively bare rock.
As we leave the "garden" area, we know we are getting closer to the campground.
We are able to hike it in 5 hours with 3000 feet in elevation gain. That is very encouraging. The first sign we were getting close to the campground was a pump house that moves water from the south rim to Phantom Ranch.
Then we came to the day use area with many tourists/day hikers. As the Rangers say, "the closer you get to the South Rim the dumber the people." There was one guy with a six pack of beer IN GLASS bottles and puffing away on weed. Idiots can be found anywhere people congregate in large groups and sometimes small ones.
It is a safe bet that the glass bottles are not going to make the 4 mile climb back to the first garbage can at the rim. Oh and it is a federal offense to even possess weed ANYWHERE in a National Park no matter what the state law says. Yes, I know I used an old term but Ytube gets excited when some words are used.
There was a pit toilet and fresh water spigot. This was the first water since the Ranch but we knew that the campground would have both with far fewer people using them.
The campsites at Havasupai Gardens Campground are nice with clean composting toilets. We set up camp and had dinner. The views from our campsite were amazing. As soon as the sun passed behind the canyon wall the temperature started to drop… fast. The wind also picked up which did not help.
The plan is eat and go to bed by dark. Tomorrow morning, we are expecting mid 40’s. Tonight's dinner is Chicken & Dumplings. After adding a little salt, it was not that bad. Lasagna and Beef sauce was heavy on the tomato but okay.
In a nearby campsite a family was talking very loud. I guess they don't realize you should use hushed tones. They did get quiet by 8pm. Refer to Ranger rule above about getting closer to the rim. Two young men showed up just at dark, they quietly setup and had dinner. We could hear their conversation about a good day is arriving at camp and not being hurt. Later in the night, we could hear one of them snoring very loudly. Such is camp life.
We hope to get started by 6 am in the morning. If we get started early, we should be on the rim early afternoon. There is another 3000 feet of gain. The plan is to stop when we need and snack much of the way up. Like they say in the Canyon “Down is optional but up is mandatory”. It will take what it takes.
We are a couple who have started on a new adventure...