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November 2018
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Grand Canyon (Finale)

We decided to start our hike out of the canyon by 6am, considering that the Bright Angel Trail is about 10 miles (vs. South Kaibab’s 7 miles) and that we expected temps on the rim to be much warmer than at the bottom of the canyon. Also, we had dinner reservations at El Tovar awaiting us! After the early 5am breakfast, we packed up and started out of the ranch, using our headlamps to light the way in the dark.

5am breakfast, 6am departure

5am breakfast, 6am departure


Dawn came later than expected through the clouds, and in fact we stopped to put on our rain gear about a mile into the hike as the mist turned to a steady drizzle. We said good bye to the river, now flowing much more rapidly due to the previous days rains, as we hiked up the canyon wall.
Rain on the Colorado

Rain on the Colorado


We encountered several “stream crossings” due to the runoff,
Stream crossing

Stream crossing

but our west trek was rewarded when we turned around to see a double rainbow. We stopped to take lots of photos.
Steve + Rainbow

Steve + Rainbow


Rainbow

Rainbow


Double Rainbow

Double Rainbow


The views as we hiked out of the canyon were a lot different from the panoramas we saw on the way down, but were still expansive and impressive, especially given that we had spent more time in the canyon.
Ascending Bright Angel Trail

Ascending Bright Angel Trail


The small spekcs are Susan, Steve, and Hanley

The small specks are Susan, Steve, and Hanley


There was a bit of clearing as we arrived at Indian Gardens, the halfway point, and we decided not to dally at 3 mile house, the next stop, but by the time we got to 1.5 mile house – the last stop – we knew that the clouds were rolling in again.
Clouds on the south rim

Clouds on the south rim


Brian and Dan had hiked ahead and managed to get out before the rain. Brian took this same photo 16 years ago when he was here.
Almost to the top.

Almost to the top.

but Steve, Hanley and I got caught a bit in the rains, but were able to see the front make its way across the canyon.
Rain at the top

Rain at the top


We all met up at the lodge with congratulations for a strong hike and a beautiful venue. Then it was time for the best shower ever (at least it felt that way to get out of wet socks and muddy boots!), nap, and get ready for dinner. After a respectable 11 year run, my water bladder was retired. I had noticed the bladder was leaking during our red rocks hikes, and decided to be safe by “double bagging” for the canyon hikes. After a confirmatory diagnosis of multiple pinhole leaks, my trusty hydration bag was laid to rest.
Bye Bye Bag

Bye Bye Bag

El Tovar did not not disappoint. It was a slice of the early 1900s, easy to imagine how visitors 100 years ago would have enjoyed similar views and similarly prepared food. Our waiter Jaime was perfectly formal, yet friendly, and parried our jokes with his own wit. The food was delicious and overall it was a highlight of the trip to reflect on the week’s experience.

After that, we said our goodbyes to Steve and Hanley who were heading out early the next morning for CA. Dan, Brian and I took our time the next morning and drove out the east side of the park. The clouds and fog prevented us from seeing much of the canyon, so we picked out our own “vistas” to enjoy until the weather cleared and we could see down the canyon.

Cougar crossing

Cougar crossing


Grandview point

Grandview point


We stopped at Grandview Point, which honestly had better vistas that the Village at the south rim. It was the first location on the canyon to have a lodge, but when the railway came through it stopped a few miles away and thus few visitors made it to Grandview anymore. There’s a rugged trail to the canyon from there, so perhaps next time we’ll try that hike. We continued eastward to the last few stops – warming up in the car between stops because it was cold! – and the Hopi house before making our way back toward Phoenix.
Brian and Dan

Brian and Dan


Looking north

Looking north


Looking west down length of canyon

Looking west down length of canyon


Cold Susan

Cold Susan

The final two highlights of the trip were relaxing in the hot tub at the Hampton Inn to soothe our tired legs, and a FANTASTIC dinner at True Food Kitchen. Every dish was fresh and tasty, from my kale salad and baked squash to the guys’ carmelized onion and mushroom flatbread to the curry and beverages. A healthy and tasty end to the trip before returning to Boston.

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