Bright Angel Going Up or…The Fellowship of the Climb
I set off on the Bright Angel trail with legs that were very fatigued and a bit wobbly but otherwise I was in pretty good shape. The trail down didn’t challenge my cardio at all. Of course all that was about to change.
Bright Angel starts off back from the Colorado River but follows along with it for a while. The trail is fairly smooth and not very steep at all. So I was making good time. My spirits were high and I was feeling much better.
But all good things do come to an end now don’t they? Soon I was back to the steps leading up into switchback Gehenna with the sun bearing down on me as well. So much for making good time.
The trail goes through quite a section of switchbacks and steps before running a river and becoming rocky. You pass through the river once or twice and then becomes quite green and pretty as it leads you into Indian Gardens. Below is a look back on where I’d been, and the approach to Indian Gardens.
You can camp over night or day camp there. It’s a resting and watering point. I was glad to see it as I had run out of water in my camel-back and water bottle as well. I also couldn’t get the filter on the bottle working and was pretty thirsty by the time I got to the watering point.
I drank a lot, refilled everything and tried to eat but I couldn’t. I just wasn’t hungry in spite of all the energy I was burning up. In fact when I tried to eat I felt nauseated and after a nice rest I staggered to my feet and slowly started up again.
Throughout all this there was one source of encouragement and that was the people along the way. You tended to pass people and chat briefly, rest and chat with them as they passed you by, etc. There was a group of four or five guys from China that I crossed paths with many times. We smiled and laughed and moved forward ever so slowly.
Stopping at nearly every turn in the switchbacks, leaning on my trekking poles just to support myself I wasn’t having fun that’s for sure. At least I made it to Three Mile Resthouse. Bathrooms and water are available there. As well as a small pack of fat, furry rats otherwise known as Grand Canyon Squirrels.. They are fearless and will steal anything they can get at. I had to laugh as one guy ran down hill to get to his pack that was being tugged at by one squirrel.
Upward again talking and joking with the people I met. I talked to one group several times. They had a nicest lady in the group who kept encouraging me. I didn’t get a picture or a name but I really appreciated it. I made her laugh when I told her this was my graduation ceremony and that I had decided I was going to be awarded a Magna Cum Stupid degree!
Ever upward. At one stop I noticed a group of women below me moving up. They had dresses on that reached their ankles and head coverings as well. Muslims? I zoomed in and took the picture below. Mennonites I’m sure, though I never asked them.
They did catch me and we had several short talks as we went back and forth. I told them I was a Minister. They were on vacation and doing the canyon was part of their trip. After I reached the top I came across them again and took this pic, as well as one with their camera for them.
I began to worry about getting out before it got dark. I had passed Mile & a Half House and it was around 5:25 or 5:30 when this came into view. You can’t see it very well, but there’s a house in the picture below. Hope surged along with energy because I knew I was close!
Then I saw this – and knew the tunnel was just shy of the top!
Onward I went through the tunnel and was approaching the top when several people I hadn’t seen before invited me to sit with them. So I did and admired the beautiful view. the lady asked if she could take my picture and of course I said yes.
I look so much better in these pictures than I felt. The reason I’ve got both trekking poles in both shots is because I really couldn’t stand still without being able to lean on them.
But I had made it, alive and exhausted but I had done it for sure. Drove for an hour back to Williams, ordered out from Pizza Hut, watched some TV and fell asleep.
Next time summing up how I feel about doing this and a brief review of some of my equipment.