Descending (almost completely) into the Grand Canyon - Bright Angel Trail

Grand Canyon Travel Blog

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At the Bright Angel Trail's trail head

It has been almost five years (just one week short) that I was in my favorite National Park, Grand Canyon National Park. The Grand Canyon is one of America's most famous natural phenomenons. And that is very rightly. The canyon is one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. Every time I visit the park I am surprised by its magnificent grandeur. This is truly one of the things in the world that cannot be photographed. Find a great picture of the canyon it will never compare to the view you get when you are there yourself.

I have visited the Canyon many times. The last one is described here. During every visit I hiked down along its steep walls. There are many trails down, but the two most famous and widely used are the South Kaibab Trail and the Bright Angel Trail.

An HDR impression of the Canyon
I had hiked both of them, but always following the advice of the Park Services: "Do not attempt to hike from the rim to the river and back in one day!"

Since I had hiked a lot in the past years, and since the temperatures in this time of the year are not that torching hot. I considered ignoring the advice and try to hike all the way down in one day. Some research on the web taught me that I would probably not make it, even if I got up early. The short daylight time window would limit me. So, instead I decided to start not too early and see how far I got following the simple formula Time-Up = 2 x Time-Down. I would use the good old Bright Angel Trail since this one has several facilities midway in case something might go wrong.

The Bright angel Trail was first constructed by the Havasupai Indian Tribe.

Enjoying the local fauna
They used it to get down to the Indian Gardens, a spot with springs, midway down the Canyon, which enabled them to grow food. When the Canyon was turned into a National Park president Theodore Roosevelt forced the Indians away from their grounds. The trail was now owned by a local, Ralph Cameron, who improved it and extended it completely down to the Colorado River. Cameron charged a one-dollar toll to hikers, at that time worth USD23 to USD15, so pretty expensive.

The morning started cold with only a few degrees above freezing. After a real McDonalds breakfast I headed to the park with a backpack filled with a lot of food and water. I could park almost next to the trailhead, what a luxury! At 9:00 am I started descending, slow but steady, enjoying the changing view angle on the canyon and the growing rock walls above me. It was clearly low season, there were other visitors but it was not as crowded as during earlier hikes.

View on the canyon just before sunset near Hopi Point and Mohave Point

Just before noon I had descended 920 meters (3018 ft) and reached the Indian Garden a normal point to head back. It was, however, too early to go back so I continued along the trail down for another 50 minutes descending 200 more meters (656 ft). I had the feeling I was really close to the river. The trail was less steep than in the earlier track and was so tempted to continue going down. Later I learnt I was only 200 meters above the river level... But rational sense forced me to take a picture and turn around. I even had to speed up, it was already 12:45 pm and the sun would set at approximately 6pm. 

And the surprise came I apparently was in a way better shape than I ever thought. I rushed up. It took me almost the same time as going down, making my arrival time 4:30 pm. So, if I had left earlier I would have made it easily to the river and back. Maybe something for another year.

Sunset has come
...

I killed the extra time by taking the park shuttle bus to Hopi Point and Mohave Point where I even hiked another three kilometers (1.9 miles) and enjoyed a really stunning sunset. What a great day!

A nice historic overview of the trail is here.
Many more pictures below. Deze fake-tekst heb ik toegevoegd om net iets meer regels te genereren zodat deze rare website toestaat dat de bijgesloten 

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At the Bright Angel Trails trail …
At the Bright Angel Trail's trail…
An HDR impression of the Canyon
An HDR impression of the Canyon
Enjoying the local fauna
Enjoying the local fauna
View on the canyon just before sun…
View on the canyon just before su…
Sunset has come
Sunset has come
At the Bright Angel Trails trail …
At the Bright Angel Trail's trail…
Looking down on the Bright Angle T…
Looking down on the Bright Angle …
Just a few minutes into the hike t…
Just a few minutes into the hike …
The trailin multiple pictures merg…
The trailin multiple pictures mer…
Deeper down, the rim towers higher
Deeper down, the rim towers higher
View on the trail from Indian Gard…
View on the trail from Indian Gar…
An HDR impression of the Canyon
An HDR impression of the Canyon
Some mules blocking my way
Some mules blocking my way
The Bright Angel Trail
The Bright Angel Trail
After a small break, in order to t…
After a small break, in order to …
At the Indian Garden is water and …
At the Indian Garden is water and…
At the Indian Garden is water and …
At the Indian Garden is water and…
At the Indian Garden is water and …
At the Indian Garden is water and…
The trail after the Indian Garden,…
The trail after the Indian Garden…
Photo taken at my turning point. S…
Photo taken at my turning point. …
Heading up again
Heading up again
Enjoying the typical flora
Enjoying the typical flora
Making some progress going up
Making some progress going up
Almost back at the rim
Almost back at the rim
The last few meters
The last few meters
Another look into the Canyon on th…
Another look into the Canyon on t…
View on the canyon just before sun…
View on the canyon just before su…
View on the canyon just before sun…
View on the canyon just before su…
View on the canyon just before sun…
View on the canyon just before su…
View on the canyon just before sun…
View on the canyon just before su…
Sunset has come
Sunset has come
Sunset has come
Sunset has come
Sunset has come
Sunset has come
Sunset has come
Sunset has come
Sunset has come
Sunset has come
Sunset has come
Sunset has come
GPS Profile (rendered by GPSVisual…
GPS Profile (rendered by GPSVisua…
GPS Height Profile
GPS Height Profile
The first section of the Bright An…
The first section of the Bright A…
This picture from Google Earth sho…
This picture from Google Earth sh…
Grand Canyon
photo by: Sunflower300