2003 Grand Canyon - Descent
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The main activity of our Grand Canyon visit was a hike to Plateau Point along the Bright Angel Trail.  According to the literature, this is the most popular Grand Canyon hike.  It is strenuous, but the trail is well marked and in reasonable condition (although you still have to mostly look down as you walk because of the ruts and rocks).  The trail leads all the way to Phantom Ranch on the Colorado River, a distance of about 9.5 miles.  The river itself is just under eight miles from the rim.  The strong recommendation is to not attempt to hike from the rim to the river or the ranch and back again in one day.  A reasonable day hike for those in decent physical condition and who bring adequate water and snacks is to Plateau Point, about six miles from the rim and thus a 12-mile round trip.  Water is available at Indian Garden, a rest stop and campground at the 4.5 mile point.  At Plateau Point are absolutely stunning views of the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon walls.

 

Several pieces of Grand Canyon literature to take note of before the hike.
 
   

We begin.
   
Two miles in from the South Rim, 2.5 miles to Indian Garden, and four miles to Plateau Point from here. Careful passing the mules!
   
Pay close attention. Evidence that the mules have, indeed, passed.
   
   
We spotted many lizards and other crawly creatures along the trail. This is probably everybody's single best remembrance of the hike.  Looking down in front of you.  The trail was sufficiently rocky, rutted, and uneven with scattered mule droppings that if you tried to look at the scenery as you walked, the moment you lifted your eyes from the trail, you would undoubtedly trip or twist an ankle.  Hiking was serious business on this trail.  If you wanted to look at scenery, you stopped moving first.
   
The famous "Battleship" rock formation. Ben Stuart is just a speck on the trail in about the dead center of this photo.
   
Picture of several of us taken at a spot along the trail I called The Amphitheater.  (I have no idea if anyone else calls it this.)  There's a rock formation here with a series of ledges that look like seating for an outdoor theater.  See the photo at right. A group of us standing at the upper reaches of the amphitheater formation.  See the ledges?  Can you see, now, why I called it The Amphitheater, complete with a capital T in the "The?"