Sunday, January 31, 2010

Clear Creek and River Loop Trails, still in the canyon

Part 3: Clear Creek Trail To Phantom Lookout and River Loop Trail, 1/27/10

Today it is snowing on the rim, but down in the canyon it is just a bit overcast, and at moments the clouds seem to be drifting below the rim. I decided to hike the two shorter trails that lead out from Phantom Ranch today. I head out tomorrow and I want to be sure to see as much of the wonderful place as possible.

Clear creek trail is just a short distance up the North Kaibab trail and leads up to a beautiful overlook point. The colors were so different because of the cloud cover, it was as if everything was darker and deeper.

Once I made it to the overlook the snow capped peaks seemed so much closer than they had been in days. Already I had begun to forget that the world up there was completely covered in snow ( 4 feet when I left and then about 8 more inches while I was in the "big hole").

Cyndee and Karen, my new hiking partners, were kind enough to take a photo of me from the lookout. The views were panoramic.

Clouds drifting into the canyon.

I thought the gradient of colors created by the low clouds was truly spectacular.

The Colorado river. Colorado means red, and it turns out that I was very lucky to actually see it in it's natural state of rusty red. Dams have stopped the flow of sediment down the Colorado which causes the water to be clear most of the time. This is pretty significant because the River cut the canyon by carrying sediment, which slowly cut down through the canyon floor.

Another view of the Colorado. The sound of the rushing waters was truly intense.

Look at the photograph below in the lower right quadrant and you can see a stone building ( to give perspective- that is a large two story building ) just beyond it is a small group of trees, if you look very closely into that grouping you can see my temporary abode at the River Ranger Station.

And here is a closer look. The River Ranger Station was a really quaint place with a full kitchen and separate bedroom. And look to the far left, there is an anvil on the front porch, a significant symbol for me.

This last photo is of Bright Angel Creek running just between Phantom Ranch and the Bright Angel Campground.

This is my last night in the canyon and my emotions are truly mixed, I am sad that my time here is ending, excited that I will be able to talk to Brian and the boys tomorrow and pretty darn overwhelmed by the idea of hiking out in the morning. We have decided to take the South Kaibab trail out to the rim, it is shorter than The Bright Angel trail by almost 2 miles, but much steeper. I have learned many things in my short time at grand canyon and one is that when someone here says it is steep, they REALLY mean it.
I spent the evening taking in the sights in and around phantom ranch, did some sketches and had a few conversations with some of the amazing folks I had the privilege to meet. And as dark fell I was off to the ranger station for miso soup and an early bedtime, we were scheduled to leave at 6:30 am (still dark).

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