Grand Canyon National Park
Restoration: Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim Again
This page contains our personal notes on our second rim-to-rim-to-rim backpack along the Main Corridor within Grand Canyon National Park.
|Tuesday, September 19, 2000|
We got up, had breakfast at the Yavapai Cafeteria, and checked out of the Lodge by 7:00 a.m. Then we moved the Troopers (Janine had a Trooper as well) to a somewhat shady spot in the Lodge parking area where they would be out of the way of the other guests, but in a place where they would be fairly safe. Then we gathered our packs and took the shuttle to the Bright Angel Lodge where we lugged our equipment along the patio to the Bright Angel Trailhead. We got strapped in and were on the trail at about 8:45 a.m.
As we worked our way down through the Tourist Zone (the top one-and-a-half miles) we met a couple struggling up. We see stressed hikers all the time, but this pair grabbed my attention for a couple of reasons. First, the male of the pair was black. For whatever the reason, we have not encountered many (if any) blacks out on these trails. Perhaps it’s because the wilderness experience has not been part of their generally urban culture. I don’t know. But this fellow had me chuckling to myself because he fit a stereotype that has been propagated through the media.
This pair wore no packs. Their equipment was strapped and tied all over their bodies, hanging out every which way, reminding me of homeless people with their collections of found treasures. And these two were carrying lots of stuff. But it was the unfortunate male who struck me the most, because he lugged most of their things. In addition to all of the tied on belongings, he struggled along carrying a full sized double mantel Coleman gas lantern in one hand and (here’s where the stereotype comes in) a large dark gray ghetto blaster in the other. Something else that I’ve never seen on any of the trails I’ve hiked. At least he had the music machine turned off. I can’t imagine that they were able to pick up radio stations while down in that gorge, so they must have brought tapes along as well. And if they produced music while below, I felt sorry for those camped nearby. The speakers on that device were large enough to carry quite a distance through the still of the campground, and music, even if it’s your favorite flavor, doesn’t always jive with the songs of Nature. Besides, most hikers, I would guess, are in the wilds to escape the clatter and static of our overly electronic civilization. I had to mentally shake my head.
In addition to their sources of light and music, the pair fought along several large black plastic garbage bags. One had a large tear in it, and scraps of cloth were hanging out. So the bags probably contained their clothes and smaller personal items. The way they were dragging them up the trail I was surprised held together this far. They looked like a forced march of evacuees from a war zone.
Then, a couple of switchbacks farther down, we ran into another pair of black fellows who were also struggling with a similar agglomerate of stuff. One of these weary travelers did have a small frame pack, with an overly large battery powered lantern strapped to the outside. I guess you’ve got to go with what you’ve got or what you can afford. Or, more likely in this case, these were city dwellers who were on their first campout and simply didn’t know any better.
My guess was that this second pair was with the first couple. With all of their struggles and apparent discomfort, I just hope they were taking back at least some pleasant memories of what they saw and experienced.
By the time we reached the bottom of Devil’s Corkscrew, crossed the Colorado, and got to Bright Angel Campground at about 3:00 p.m., it was mostly full. The thermometer near the entrance to the campground indicated that it was 106 degrees, in the sun. That explained the large number of hikers soaking in the fast running waters of Bright Angel Creek.
We walked through the campground and were lucky to find an open, shady, and agreeable spot. Site 20 was large enough for the four of us, near one of the fresh water faucets, and only a couple of sites away from the restrooms. It would do just fine.
After we dropped our packs, kicked out of our boots and heavy socks, and slipped into our Tivas, we began setting up camp. As required, we stored our food in the large, air tight, metal surplus ammunition canisters that the Park Service provides. The intent is to keep the mice, deer, insects, and other inquisitive and hungry critters out of our supplies and away from usually unfortunate encounters with humans.
After we settled we walked up the trail to the Phantom Ranch Dining Hall for some cold lemonade. They charged a $1.40 for the first good sized paper cup, and, if you brought your cup back, the second round was only $1.00.
We sat, enjoyed our drinks, listened to the chatter of the energized voices around us, cooled off in the chilled air produced by a swamp-cooler, and absorbed the eager excitement of our fellow hikers. Once refreshed we walked back to camp and stood in the stream to cool off and wash some of the trail dust from our legs.
We relaxed the best we could for the rest of the afternoon, then prepared our meal of dehydrated rice and chicken, with Mountain Blackberry Cheesecake for dessert. On this trip we discovered that the Park Service no longer allows cooking stoves to be placed on top of the picnic tables while in use. Apparently there has been a considerable amount of damage to the wooden tables caused by malfunctioning stoves, in addition to a number of injuries from flare-ups. We understood fully, since we’d had our little flaming experience when we checked out our little stove earlier in the season.
To facilitate cooking, the Park Service has added 14 x 14 inch concrete slabs in each campsite, where a stove can be placed on the level. This works well, other than the cook must squat or sit in the dirt to prepare the meal. We noticed that some campers considered themselves special and simply ignored the directive and cooked on their tables anyway. Those are times when you wish a Ranger would happen through.
On this trip we brought our two person mountain tent and left our sleeping bags up top. On our previous hikes across we slept out under the stars. But on the last trip I was stung by a scorpion in the night and really didn’t want a repeat of that experience. I knew I would sleep more soundly within the relative protection of the tent’s nylon walls. We laid down our Thermarest pads and slept under light cotton blankets. It worked well, because somewhere after dark I drifted off to sleep.