Wednesday, December 18, 2013

As it turns out, the Grand Canyon doesn't suck (Part Deux).

Recently, I posted about an article I had read that claimed the Grand Canyon was over-rated as a tourist attraction.  I felt that the article really missed the mark and decided to compare it to my experiences there. This is part two to that post and covers the second of two day hikes. If you missed part one you can read it here.

For our second day hike, we decided to try out the Bright Angel Trail.  This trail leaves directly from the South Rim Village hotels.  I was told it was the most common hike taken by unprepared tourists; owing to its proximity to the bus stops as well as the deceptively gradual down slope at the beginning.  The day was slightly warmer than the previous day, but there were still threatening rain clouds and quite a bit of wind blowing.  However, once we descended below the rim, the wind was completely absent and the temperature quite, nice.

After the initial few switchbacks, the amount of tourist strollers dropped off considerably.  The trail began to make a series of steep cuts back into a narrow box canyon which made for a considerably more claustrophobic experience compared to the wide open views we had been having up to this point.

View up the throat of the canyon.
Photo: Dan Norgan

View out of the narrow canyon as the trail descends.
Photo: Dan Norgan

The initial switchbacks were pretty short; at times only 100 meters or so before it switched again.  As we continued to descend, the canyon gradually widened and wound all the way out to the canyon walls at times.  The climber in me couldn't help but inspect some rather impressive looking cracks.

Body width crack?  No big deal.
Photo: Robyn Norgan

The switchbacks continued on for nearly 2 more miles until we reached the rest house situated above the final shelf below the valley floor.  We had decided earlier that this would be our turn around for the day and so decided to have some lunch and enjoy the views.  The rest house was a squat open sided structure that looked like it had been around for quite some time.  I would have hated to be the one to haul the timber down for the roof!

Rest House...Probably a lot more needed when its hot.
Photo: Dan Norgan

We sat down on a small overlook near the shack and were treated to some stormy views of the canyon.  Once again, the off season visit paid off since most people only see bright sunny days.  We were joined by some small critters who seemed to be all too familiar with humans.

The cooler weather brought out some fearless wildlife to join us for lunch.
Photo: Robyn Norgan

We couldn't have asked for a nicer view to eat lunch.  Too bad most people never see this.  The silence was quite impressive.

Lunch with a view
Photo: Dan Norgan

The rain finally broke.  We took this as a sign to head out.
Photo: Robyn Norgan

Time to go.
Photo: Robyn Norgan

It didn't seem that far coming down, did it?
Photo: Dan Norgan

Once again, the inevitable 'mountaineering in reverse' effect hit us on the way up.  Unfortunately, this climb was tougher as we were still tired from the day before. About the time we were nearing the rim again, the sun broke out.  The colors in the afternoon were just stunning.  Mix it in with the occasional rain storm and it was spectacular indeed.

Afternoon color.  A nice change from the gray.
Photo: Robyn Norgan

More clouds coming...
Photo: Robyn Norgan

Parting views of the canyon.
Photo: Robyn Norgan

Robyn surveying the abyss
Photo: Dan Norgan

The Grand Canyon is truly an amazing place to visit.  I can imagine in the heat of summer it can be a somewhat different experience, but in the cooler months it is excellent.  I always enjoy getting out in places like this to see the less taken trails where the average tourist never ventures.  This treats you to views you will never see on a post card, and can only really experience for yourself.  If you are looking for a great adventure, I highly recommend visiting the Grand Canyon (when its cool) definitely doesn't suck!

1 comment:

  1. What an awesome experience you two enjoyed!!
    I have walked the same trail when I was very young...which I am not now.
    And it was in the summer when it was sooooo hot.
    You both just plain rock! The canyon is spectacular and your photos proved it.