As I said in the previous post, I did sleep, but the sore knee began to stiffen and hurt. The sore toe also began to swell and hurt. I could feel it all every time I tried to reposition myself in my sleeping bag. These pains are common reactions to this hike to the river, which is why there is a planned rest day, so called, which oddly consists of more hiking in the gorge. That little bit of less strenuous movement is supposed to keep muscles loose and functioning. We had breakfast, grabbed our water bottles and headed up Bright Angel Creek.
These feet did not fit into the hiking boots too well, but my camp shoes were wearable. The pace was relaxed and the terrain basically flat, leaving me lots of time to snap photos and look around. We were travelling a beautiful gorge – I think the guide called it “the box” because of the steep walls on either side.
The trail went fairly gradually for a couple miles on the right side of Bright Angel Creek, and then we saw another gorge on the left side with its own smaller creek. The plan was to cross Bright Angel and explore the intersecting gorge and Phantom Creek. It promised a waterfall and swimming hole. However, the Bright Angel was running so swiftly that none of us liked the idea of trying to cross it. Our guides looked for a place to cross but decided it was too risky. We might not have drowned, but could have gotten banged around on the rocks. (And the water was FREEZING!)
I always notice texture in nature, and there was plenty of it to notice. I took pictures of every interesting rock and plant I saw because they all just had the flavor of the canyon that I wanted to remember. We were charmed by a little mule deer who kept showing up around camp too. We stopped at the canteen again and sat around talking and making sure we didn’t get dehydrated. The canteen and the other buildings of Phantom Ranch were designed by Mary Jane Elizabeth Colter (click here to read more) and are nestled around BA Creek. In its heyday, Phantom Ranch had fruit trees, a swimming pool and other up-scale features for its more important guests. This tree is one of the few remaining fruit trees. Can you guess what it is?
Later in the day we went down to the Colorado, to the Boat Beach and got wet – some more than others. It was very cold as well, but refreshing. We visited the Silver Bridge, which we would travel out on the next day.
The wind was picking up around dinnertime and some of our tents were actually being blown around. Storms were forecast and temperatures were supposed to go way down. Surprisingly, the bad weather skirted around us and what we got was some gorgeous views of the moon and clouds instead. We all went to sleep early so we could break camp at 4 am and get started on the ten mile hike out to the rim.
I wasn’t exactly looking forward to it.
To be continued…