Arizona Trail – Day 5 (20 miles)
This is it, the Grand Canyon!
I woke up at Cottonwood Campground which is about halfway down to the Colorado River. I packed up excitedly and started to make my way down. This side canyon of Bright Angel Creek that I was in is pretty spectacular in itself.
After a couple of hours walking down past the cliffs, waterfalls and viewing the different rock bands simply in awe of my surroundings I reached Phantom Ranch and the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
Taking numerous pictures, I took the Bright Angel Path up to the top of the rim. It is a bit longer than the Arizona Trail, but I have walked this section and I may as well take the opportunity for something different.
It starts by crossing the mighty river on a rather impressive steel bridge. When I reached the other side I stopped for a very early lunch break and enjoyed the view up and down the river.
The trail was a little rocky at the start, but it was a well-graded and fairly consistent the whole way up. This first section was in a tight canyon with several springs. It was pretty awesome with several springs, but I momentarily lost my view of the greater canyon.
After one last switchbacked section I popped out onto the major bench of the Grand Canyon. Here I started seeing lots of day hikers coming down from the south rim. I took a break here and listened to all the excited hikers heading down to the bottom. They all had hired pack horses to take their belongings to the bottom.
I continued up. I caught up to one of the Rangers that is patrolling the trail. We walked and talked for about half an hour.
At the top, I spent quite a bit of time reading all the informational signs as I walked a couple of miles over to the grocery store and the Arizona Trail.
I resupplied for the 4 days to Flagstaff and bought a whole wheel of brie and some chips for an afternoon snack.
I then headed off to try and find the trail. It was a large, sealed track that ran next to the highway. I walked for a couple of hours. I stopped a bit early to enjoy the sunset as I set up camp among the Ponderosa Pines.