Grand Canyon: Colorado River Back to the Rim

Bright Angel Trail Bridge

Bright Angel Trail Bridge

December 12th, 2020

After yesterday’s lunch by the water, we’ve resumed our hike along the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The Bright Angel Trail leads across the next bridge, back to the south shore of the Colorado River. Looking left, we see horses and riders moving slowly along a narrow lip of the canyon wall. 

Horses on the wall

Horses on the wall

Sunlight hits Bright Angel Gorge as we cross the bridge and look west. Water flows under us, the only sound in this remote and vast space. The river, bridges and gentle trail bring some relief to the extreme landscape. What a crazy sensation to be at the bottom, enjoying views relatively few people will see in their lifetime.

Bright Angel Gorge

Bright Angel Gorge

Bright Angel Trail Bridge with Kaibab Bridge in the distance

Bright Angel Trail Bridge with Kaibab Bridge in the distance

Colorado River

Colorado River

View to Zoroaster Temple

View to Zoroaster Temple

The Bright Angel Trail turns south and leads away from the river. The sound of the flow is gone and our footsteps become the focus again. It’s 1:30 p.m. The afternoon heat intensifies and shade becomes a valuable tool for moving ahead, one spot to the next. The trail begins to climb higher through the canyon, transitioning to switchbacks. A look back gives a sense of accomplishment — another valuable tool for getting through the long day.

Starting our way back up the hill

Starting our way back up the hill

Climb to the sky

Climb to the sky

Gaining elevation and views across the canyon

Gaining elevation and views across the canyon

Looking back at Bright Angel Trail

Looking back at Bright Angel Trail

Completed switchbacks

Completed switchbacks

Climbing higher

Climbing higher

At 4:30 p.m. we reach the next “plateau” between two high walls of the canyon. In some places, lush trees and tall grasses line the trail, watered by seasonal rain and snowmelt that runs through this section of the climb.

On a side note, part of the challenge of doing this hike in a day is the ever-present awareness that you have limited time and daylight. On top of that, the terrain is unfamiliar and it’s hard to know where you are exactly (and what’s ahead) at any given point. But it was here (in the photo below) that I did realize just exactly where we were: on the trail I had stared at from the rim, the evening before (next photo). 

The dreaded plateau

The dreaded plateau

Oh, I know where we are!

Oh, I know where we are!

See that dark green stretch in the middle? We’re just past that section of the trail. Putting two and two together is a startling discovery. We’re still a long way from the top, and looking ahead we can see nothing but a wall of stone.

The canyon wall still above

The canyon wall still above

What can you do… except put one foot in front of the other, reach inward and find gratitude for being here and being able, and keep climbing up in a race with the sun.

Tomorrow I’ll share the last photo I took on the hike before it got dark and I got serious, and I’ll also share the link to the large-format pictorial of the whole day from start to finish.

Woohoo! We’re almost to the rim!
Kelly

Post of the Day: Adding a bit of light to the darkness as we get through the pandemic together. This series features travel photos from my archives, shared with you while staying close to home.

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