Below the Rim Postmortem

We are a few days removed from the hike and still feeling worn out. We are in Tucson area having moochdocked at our friends place, doing laundry and looking at photos. We moved over to the Tucson Mountain Park to commune with the cactus. Then over to Catalina State park, then over to our friends place in Oro Valley. We have absolutely no ambition to hike despite being in very good shape. No injuries. Just drained. Interesting. It’s like we floated on a sea of grace and hard work to make the hike down and back. And now feel a part of us was left in the canyon.

Tucson Mountain Park

Granted we are really ok just feeling like a couple slugbugs. Still in recovery tho.

Downtown Tucson

We are asked if we would do it again. Being in the canyon is magical. Being on the rim looking down is magical (if you spend some time doing so, not just 30 minutes of selfies).

Checking email

We loved being in the canyon. We loved the hiking. The tent camping not so much anymore.

River crossing at Catalina State Park

We wouldn’t mind staying a few nights (minimum 3) at the Phantom Ranch to savor the area more deeply. However, practically, that presupposes a 1 day hike down and 1 day hike out. Is it doable? With some additional conditioning it would make it a little easier. With some planning, we could arrange for most items to be transported by mule both ways thereby only needing to carry water, essential first aid, and snacks for hike down and back. Will we?

One of our favorite lunch spots in Tucson

The key here is planning and the phantom ranch lottery is chancy. Nevertheless we will take some time to recover and decide later if we wish to make an application for a permit and reservation.

Cheesecake anyone?

In the meantime, we will savor the experience, with gratitude, enjoy the memories and photos, laugh at our foibles and move on to what is next. Like visiting the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. Desert or Dessert?

Relaxing at Catalina State park

We are doing a little walking and bike riding. Exploring. Running errands. And on to the next day, the next moment, the next adventure.

Out for a ride for a change.

The memories remain fresh. The images still return. Glad I took a bunch of photos. Would we love to return? Yes!. Will we? Um….TBD.

A reflective view from trip makes it hard not to want to.

Grand Canyon Below the Rim, Day 4 – Up Bright Angel Trail to the Rim

We begin our last day of 4 with a “hearty” 🙄 breakfast and coffee as we discussed our plans. Temp is about 37 degrees. Temp at the rim is probably 25 but will rise to 45 or so by the time we arrive 5.5 hours later. Be sure to click on the scenic photos below, to expand and enjoy.

We break camp and pack up trying to get an early start on the 4 mile 3000 ft switchback hike pretty much straight up with snow the last 2.5 miles as you can see from the photo below. It appears daunting but doable.

Here is where we are going today.

A perennial stream, Garden Creek, cuts through Havasupai Gardens, which is great for soaking aching shins. But there’s an even more significant water source here—a pump house. (Photos below from the internet).

What is truly amazing is that this water travels thru a 16-mile pipeline from a natural spring about 3,500 feet below the North Rim, across the Colorado River and up to Havasupai Gardens. From there, it is pumped to the South Rim, without which there would be no water on the South Rim where a large portion of the 6 million who visited the park in flushed toilets, took showers and filled water bottles.

Looking back north and down toward the Havasupai gardens camp

A little side note: we were told of the 6 million visitors annually, 1 percent or 60,000 walk at least a little ways below the rim. Of that, only 10% or 6,000 hike to the bottom. Wow. Pretty rare company I guess.

The first mile let us get warmed up for the switchbacks. Then the fun begins as much of the trail is shaded, a but muddy here and there AND, definitely icy. Some parts get sun but not much so we stopped in the one place for sun to take our major break. Glad we did.

Up the switchbacks we go. Not a lot to tell here. Huff Puff! The photos do the speaking.

I stopped several times to look around and take a snapshot of the view of the deep canyons

Eventually we made it,but didn’t get a photo right at the top of the trailhead right near Kolb Studios. We celebrated, then headed directly to the shuttle bus station, ready for a shower back at the the van….which we hoped survived the cold during our trek and it did so admirably. We had left the electric heater turned on low, the Truma water heater on Eco (42 degrees) and it survived the 25 degree nights with 40 degree days. YAY!

Relief at the shuttle bus stop awaiting our chariot to the shower.

We did it!!! Not bad for a couple old farts approaching mid-70’s who hadn’t backpacked for almost 40 years. About 25 miles total in 4 days. 5000 feet down and 5000 feet up. 3 nights in a very small tent (ask us about it 🤣). We were ready to celebrate with a good meal at El Tovar Lodge with our companions. I will do a postmortem in a day or so for those interested. Suffice it to say we are glad we did it and tent camping is probably not in our future. All in all it was amazing and satisfying. Over a week later, we are still in recovery.

Our group. from the left, Kent, Sraddha, Kendrick, Mandy, Jan, Dave. The Crème Brûlée already disposed of.

We want to thank our guides, Mandy and Kendrick for their patience, understanding, expertise and support along this journey. We couldn’t and wouldn’t have done it without you. Their website is