Photo Friday: The Grand Canyon, Part 1

Along the South Rim

Although the main point of my recent trip to the Grand Canyon was to hike in the canyon, I arrived a day early and thus had time to walk the South Rim Trail as well, in part as a scouting expedition: I wanted to know how far the ice extended down the Bright Angel Trail.

The afternoon I arrived, I walked a short stretch of the trail east from the BA trail. Late-afternoon sun makes for an extra-special shadow-and-light show.

Yes, that's snow. There was a lot of it around; the campground, though open, was still melting out.

Low light on the Canyon. The large side canyon directly across on the right side of the photo is where the North Kaibab trail runs.

The paved trail is marked of in millions of years, with signposts here and there to describe what the place was like at that time.

The next morning I had time for a longer hike, and headed west along the rim from the Bright Angel trailhead for several miles. Conveniently, when you get tired of walking, you can grab a bus to the end of the road and another to come back.

My first concern was to scope the top of the BA trail, which I'd be descending the next day, with an eye to determining if traction would be needed.

In the middle of the photo you can see large stretches of the trail, covered in snow and ice. Traction devices strongly recommended.

Detail of the trail, with hikers trying to avoid the ice. Going down with full packs, we would want our microspikes.

 It was also still early enough to have good light (though it had not been early enough for good parking. A bicycle would be a useful thing to have at the South Rim, so you can leave the car and ride to everything, though the shuttle buses also work. I was moving my base so couldn't leave the car in my campsite).

The bright Angel trail descends this cleft to Havasupai Gardens (a little of it is visible in the form of some cottonwood trees). The visible trail is the West Tonto trail and a spur going out to Plateau Point, which I have yet to visit.

Farther along the rim, I was looking down at what would be our second hiking day. The Tonto trail follows the Tonto Plateau, the wide flat-looking (it isn't) area before the final cliffs of the Inner Canyon.

Enjoying my walk.

 The  lingering snow from a very late and snowy spring added an extra color layer to the Canyon.

The night had been cold, and the freeze-thaw cycle made for some impressive icicles dripping from layer to layer of the cliffs.

Despite the cold night, by mid-morning it was warm enough for me to appreciate the shade of the juniper trees growing along the rim.

Looking down on Monument Creek, where we would also go.

Eventually I got tired and hopped a bus back to my car, saving views of Hermit for later. I may not have wanted to think too much about the climb up that trail.

Later, I went back to Powell Point with my hiking partner and a couple of friends who live and work at the Canyon for a sunset pizza feed.

Yes, you really do have to do sunset and sunrise to see the place at its best.

Is it any wonder that I keep going back?

Next photo post will take us down the Bright Angel Trail and out along the Tonto plateau.

The whole series: Part 1 was up on the South Rim. Part 2 took us down the Bright Angel trail and out the Tonto West Trail to Horn Creek. Part 3 is Monument Canyon and Granite Rapids. Part 4 took us to Hermit Creek and Hermit Rapids, where we finally saw some decent wildflowers. Part 5 was the trip up the Hermit Trail and a few extra bits.

©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2023
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  1. I should have got my photo album out with my GC trip when you visited. I don't suppose I've opened it in 20 years :)

  2. I'm hoping next year, hubby and I can go to the Grand Canyon. I have family that live in AZ so that part of the trip is already solved. It's just a matter of when to go.

    1. Make the time! And do a little training so you can enjoy hiking a bit, because it really is best viewed afoot, even from the rim. One thing I failed to mention is that the South Rim is at 7000'--this denizen of sea level noticed that.


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