Janna put in for permits to stay down at Bright Angel Campground months ago for when her cousin would most likely come. When her cousin didn't we reached out to Darren to see if he wanted to hike down with us to stay at the bottom. Affirmative given, we looked forward to a night listening to moving water along the floor of the Grand Canyon.
With all the snow the snow this winter, we missed several days of school requiring a five-day week to make up the days. It had happened to be on Friday of our hike down that school was scheduled with a half-day. We taught all morning, Darren drove up from Cave Creek, and we all met our place at 1 pm. From there, we packed up, ate lunch, and headed down the trail at 3 pm. Instead of late march warmth and sunny skies, snow spittered down on us, the South Kaibab was slush, and microspikes were warranted.
We parked the car at South Kaibab Trailhead and started down the trail. We had about 5 hours of daylight left, but wanted to be able to provide enough time for great views for Darren's first trip. And the views were searingly beautiful. With wisps of precip-laden clouds darting across rim lips, light filtered and then backlit opposing buttes and temples within the Canyon. The reds, purples, and browns gushed brightly when accented by snow and bright, textured light.
The descent was smooth and fast going. We strode across the Kaibab Suspension Bridge over the muddy Colorado at sunset before fastpacking it to the campground in the dying light. Luckily, Bright Angel was mostly empty. We chose a site quietly across from Bright Angel Creek and setup our shelters in the dark. Cool temps absorbed us, but they felt welcome and not biting. After dinner, we walked in the dark with the gash of dark sky stars whirling over us to Phantom Ranch in an attempt to find our principal who was staying in the bunkhouse this same night. We failed to find her, so we turned back and climbed into bed. I slept absolutely peacefully as the sounds of running Bright Angel Creek murmured in the dark.
In the morning, we had a slow breakfast and a walk over to the Phantom Ranch Cantina for hot coffee for Darren and Janna. We enjoyed the fresh new leaves of cottonwoods in spring before taking the river trail out to Silver Bridge and walking over for an ascent up Bright Angel Trail. We hit Havasupai Gardens by 11 am or so where we stopped to talk to Kate on patrol at the ranger station. Darren, Janna, and I agreed to walk out that day instead of camping at the Gardens. With that, we pushed upwards at a good rate with dirt transitioning to mud and mud to ice. By early afternoon, we crested on top with the burn in the calves that a full pack on my back could only bring. The three of us walked back to our place where showers and dinner at Plaza Bonita ensued.
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