starting to hit rock bottom!

Grand Canyon Travel Blog

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Sunrise at the grand canyon... used a 300mm lens for this shot.

So in the morning... before everyone else got up... John and I went to the Rim to take some photographs of the sunrise... normally I never seen the sunrise; just a few occasions when I pulled an all nighter in college but I was in a cramped photography lab anyways or when I would go to work at the Pittsburgh Airport and I'd have to be there at 6AM.  But this was absolutely Gorgous!  The way the color of the the pinks and blues merged with the sky and the Canyon peaks... I'm happy I brought my 300mm lens with me because I was able to get some really cool shots! 

We went back to the lodge and packed up our things and stuck them in the trunks of the car which we then proceeded to move over to the lot closer to the South Rim where we were leaving them.

Sunrise at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon
  The only problem is that since it's 27F degrees during the day and it dipped lower at night it's in the teens there was frost on the wind shield.  Since my Uncle and Aunt are southerners and they haven't seen snow since they moved away from Pittsburgh 13 and 10 years ago they don't have the proper mechanisms... i.e. an ice scraper... to get the frost off so it was funny watching Amy use her hand with a glove... last I checked that really didn't do anything.  But Amy's friend Sue, from Vermont, had an awesome idea... with her being in this bind before.  Hey let's use a credit card... whip whip whip... that cleared it right up.

We drove to the South Rim lot, went into the store to rent some walking sticks, because there's ice at the top of the Bright Angel trail.

Sunrise at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon
  We decided to go down the Bright Angel... it is 8.1 miles compared to 7.1 of the Kaibab, but the one problem with the Kaibab is it is steeper with less switchbacks so it is a little rougher.  But we figured we'd have more control hiking up with ice than hiking down. 

As we were getting ready I was waiting for everyone to put on their layers... as I was holding their packs and walking sticks for them they looked at me and asked, "is that all you're wearing?" I looked down at myself in a pair of timberland hiking boots (and a pair of timberland sandles strapped to the back of my pack that nobody thought I was going to wear), a pair of very thin wind pants, a Penn State T-shirt and a worn thin zip up hoodie I've been wearing since 1994.

Sunrise at the south rim of the grand canyon
  I looked bluntly at them and said "Yes"... Oh my gosh what a commotion that caused... you're going to get sick they told me, you're going to be too cold and we don't want to hear it they stated.  I said I know my limits and they have to remember while they're used to 70F degree Phoenix weather where I was 2 days before it was 5 degrees out and the snow was up to my knees and this is what I wore there, but instead of hiking boots I wore Birkenstock sandels with socks.  And that 27 degrees with 2 inches of snow is a heat wave compared to what I'm used to.  They just looked at me and said don't complain when I told you so... I shrugged, told them that they're going to be sorry when their body temperature raises from the hike and started my journey down the Bright Angel Trail.
South Rim

So on the way down I was snapping pictures left and right, infront of me and behind me and at one point I stopped my aunt and put on a 35mm lens and told her to stop.  This was the last point I could get a photograph of Amy with the top of the canyon above her head.  Hold it I told her... almost there... well as a nice couple hiking came down after us they came running up to me... STOP they said.  I was like what's wrong... well, if I took one more step back I was going to be one of the statistics except in reverse.  Most poeple fall off the edge because they are taking a photo of a person with the canyon behind them and tell them to keep backing up so they can fit the whole body in the photograph... well, I was doing the opposite.

South Rim
  I snapped my photo... thanked the nice couple and continued on my way.  This photo is now sitting on Amy's desk at home... it ended up being one of the nicest of her.

At one point of the hike John and Dave decided to go over to the ledge over look... I'm not too sure how they got there but somehow they did the hike and caught up to us in no time.  And go figure.  I got harrassed for carrying too much camera equipment in my bag and the guys had beer... didn't anybody ever tell them it's bad to drink while doing physical activities... where's that water! (the funny part is that was the only bottles they had... so they brought back 4 bottles back to the top of the canyon). 

While hiking down and as I snapped photo's I ended up looking back at them and a lot of pictures I took had my Aunt Nancy in the background.

Amy getting discouraged with the frost... she hasn't seen snow in 13 years.
.. it was sort of funny because I would enlarge one to frame and hang up because I thought it was a nice scenic photo and nope... there's Aunty Nancy coming around the hill... it ended up making a nice calendar for her for Christmas!  And I gave her all the 8x10 photo's and she asked why I blew up so many with her in it... I told her that she's like Waldo and just pops up and you have to try and find her on the proofs.

The walk down was like 4 different temperate zones.  At the top it was woodsy and snowy, another part was pure dessert, the next part was like going through the mountains of Latin America with all the greenery and the last part was like hiking in a midwest state park.  It was amazing to see everything and how it all changed in that 7 miles!  The trail was also deceiving.

Way to go Sue, leave it to the one from Vermont to use a credit card as an ice scraper
  Because when you thought that you might be close you'd go around another corner and there would be alot more switchbacks that you weren't anticipating.  When I first started the hike I thought it was going to be easy.  I can walk all day long and not have problems.  But my legs hurt so much... the one thing that kept me going was knowing that it was going to cost $5000 USD to fly myself out of there by helecopter if I couldn't make it... and that's half the amount I make in a year working my part time jobs and going to school!  There was no way I could afford that!

Well, like I predicted everybody else started to get really hot and take their coats and ear muffs and gloves off... well, not me... I took off my hoodie at one stop for lunch and I switched my shoes when I got into the desert portion of the hike.

Aunt Nancy ready for the hike down... she bundled up good not realizing she'd have to carry all those layers later
.. I was cool as a cucumber and I just laced the hoodie inbetween my back and my backpack to hold it there!  (just remember if you hike in the winter months you can only hike from the south rim because there's too much snow in the north rim and they shut the water down on the way there so bring enough water in a camelpak... which I had on over my backpack full of supplies).

So I finally made it out of the lush, green, valley and see the Mighty colorado river... I must be close to Phantom Ranch... errr... another false alarm.  I still have a couple of miles to go til I get to the bridge.  when I do see the bridge I'm the happiest person in the world... but then I see what I have to hike over.  The bridge is just meshed steel and you can see right through the floor.

The first view of Bright Angel Trail
.. I'm scared of heights.  Dave snaps a photo of me at the edge of the bridge and I make my way over... knowing he was behind me helped me out because the bridge was so narrow that I knew I had nowhere to go.

On the other side of the bridge we saw some deer in the passing.  The cool thing about wild life here, it's like seeing wild life at Disney World.  They are so used to humans they know we're not there to hurt them so they just continue to graze and let us snap photo's until someone in the group makes a loud noise and then they get spooked and run for it. But finally we got to Phantom Ranch and I was relieved because it's time for dinner... they only have 2 meals and they are $20 or $35... one is a stew dinner and the other is  a steak dinner.

Starting down
.. well, we opted for the cheaper and got stew each night... except dave who splurged for the steak.  When my uncle asked him if $35 for steak was worth it dave told him that he can validify $35 for stead of $20 for beef and vegetable stew... so yes it was worth it!

Finally it was time for bed so the ladies went to the womans bunk and the guys went to the mens bunk and I fell asleep without a care in the world just praying that the pain in my worn out legs goes away by morning because I want to hike to the couple of miles with Dave the next day to the Havasupai Falls.

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Sunrise at the grand canyon... use…
Sunrise at the grand canyon... us…
Sunrise at the South Rim of the Gr…
Sunrise at the South Rim of the G…
Sunrise at the South Rim of the Gr…
Sunrise at the South Rim of the G…
Sunrise at the south rim of the gr…
Sunrise at the south rim of the g…
South Rim
South Rim
South Rim
South Rim
Amy getting discouraged with the f…
Amy getting discouraged with the …
Way to go Sue, leave it to the one…
Way to go Sue, leave it to the on…
Aunt Nancy ready for the hike down…
Aunt Nancy ready for the hike dow…
The first view of Bright Angel Tra…
The first view of Bright Angel Tr…
Starting down
Starting down
View of the Canyon in the backgrou…
View of the Canyon in the backgro…
Bright Angel trail at the South Rim
Bright Angel trail at the South Rim
I thought this was pretty!  The Ca…
I thought this was pretty! The C…
Me Starting my way down... everybo…
Me Starting my way down... everyb…
South Rim
South Rim
South Rim
South Rim
Amy with the top of Bright Angel T…
Amy with the top of Bright Angel …
I like the reflection of blue sky …
I like the reflection of blue sky…
The group about 1/8th the way down
The group about 1/8th the way down
Bright Angel Trail on the South Rim
Bright Angel Trail on the South Rim
The snow is starting to melt... pr…
The snow is starting to melt... p…
Looking up on where I came from
Looking up on where I came from
The colorado river from Bright Ang…
The colorado river from Bright An…
Me Resting... Im about half way t…
Me Resting... I'm about half way …
My favorite photo... I took this p…
My favorite photo... I took this …
A cool jagged rock
A cool jagged rock
starting to walk in more luch gree…
starting to walk in more luch gre…
A stream on Bright Angel trail
A stream on Bright Angel trail
Amy trying to figure out which way…
Amy trying to figure out which wa…
Bright Angel Trail
Bright Angel Trail
Bright Angel Trail
Bright Angel Trail
At this point I thought I was almo…
At this point I thought I was alm…
The colorado river
The colorado river
The bridge heading over to Phantom…
The bridge heading over to Phanto…
Some Deer in the woods
Some Deer in the woods
They are so tame that they didnt …
They are so tame that they didn't…
Bright Angel Trail almost to Phant…
Bright Angel Trail almost to Phan…
The trail going to Phantom Ranch
The trail going to Phantom Ranch
Phantom Ranch
Phantom Ranch
Aunt Nancy bringing up the rear...…
Aunt Nancy bringing up the rear..…
Grand Canyon
photo by: Sunflower300