Friday, October 15, 2010

Bright Angel trail, part 1

There are many signs at the Grand Canyon warning people about the dangers of hiking into the canyon.  Basically, they say "take all precautions, and maybe don't go at all, or you could die! die! die!"  At the trailhead to the Bright Angel trail, which is right in the village (so accessible to anyone with a sudden whim to go for a hike) there is a panel telling the tragic story of a woman who was fitter than most of us, who could run the Boston Marathon, but who died hiking the Bright Angel trail.

I have to say though, if I would have known how easy a hike this would be, I would have hiked more of it.  I hiked the first portion down into the canyon, to 1 1/2 mile house (where there are restrooms and water), and that was around a 1200 foot drop in elevation.  This trail also shaded in many areas, which makes it easier, although the day I hiked it it was not that hot.

I found the trail to be wide and not steep, although everywhere in the literature it is touted as being narrow and very steep!  It's relentlessly up/down (depending which direction you are headed) with constant change in elevation, so maybe they interpret that as "steep", but at least on the portions that are within reach of the average muggle hiker, it is not a steep trail.  Very gradual slope, lots of switchbacks.

I guess they post so many warnings because so many average folks with little hiking experience could be skipping easily down the trail and not realizing that it will take more energy once they turn around to come back.  Still, I found that it took me about the same amount of time coming up as going down.  Guess I must be reasonably fit.  It's definitely an easier hike by far than climbing the hills and mountains around Arctic Bay.

So here are a few photos from the hike- I'll post more soon.

This first one is at the top of the trail- looks like they are repositioning some mules that take tourists into the canyon.  Seems like such a waste to bring these guys back empty though- I would love to hike into the canyon and then hitch a ride on a mule back.

Here's a bend early on in the trail, where it takes the hikers through a short tunnel cut into a piece of the canyon that juts out:

It was sun and cloud that day, made for beautiful shadow patterns in the canyon, always changing:

Here's that tunnel:

Just on the other side of the tunnel:

The canyon wall, a bit below the rim:

The shadows changed from minute to minute, my favourite picture-taking conditions.  I couldn't resist taking way too many pictures again:

Looking back up at the canyon wall again.  As you can see, there's vegetation and trees down in the canyon:

This is the trail itself- as you can see, wide, well-maintained, easy to follow:

I still have more photos to go through, so I will post more from this trail soon.

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