Just frozen brains
It was hard to get out of our sleeping bags that morning at Indian Garden. Low 13 F! Both of us had ice on our stocking caps. Yet nature and coffee called.
Looking at the North Rim, Home Sweet Home
After breakfast we walked west towards Plateau Point overlook to warm up before heading up 3100 feet (945 m) for the final trek of 4.6 miles (7.4 km).
Yes, that’s Mike in front of that over weight pack
The trail starts up rather gradually across the Tonto Formation. Then Jacobs Ladder switchbacks across the widest band of exposed rock, the Redwall Limestone. Usually an impenetrable rock face, Bright Angel trail was built in an ancient fault zone that creates a break in this sheer cliff. (Note the offset on the light-colored wide layer almost at the top of the Coconino Sandstone.)
Mule train passing below resthouse
Three-mile Resthouse sits at the top of the Redwall, a dividing line between forest and desert-scrub habitats.
From here the trail travels more gradually over crumbly layers of shale mixed with limestone and sandstone. And, of course more switchbacks, with waterbars that are logs across the trail to keep it from washing away. Sort of like unevenly spaced steps with a rise of 6-18 inches (15-45 cm).
Next stop, Mile-and-a-Half Resthouse, which also offers compost toilets and during summer potable water and sits below yet another steep cliff face of Coconino Sandstone. Both resthouses provide a sheltered place to drop the every growing heavier packs and have a snack. (Eating would seem to lighten the load but didn’t feel that way.)
Plus couldn’t stop for long or the body would start to chill.
Seeing the second tunnel gave hope that we were almost at the top. Well after many more switchbacks and waterbars that is.
By the time we got to First tunnel I was too tired to lift my feet let alone the camera.
But once at the top with no heavy pack on my back I turned to see where we had been. I felt triumph and awe filled with wonder. Plus hunger so strong I was very cranky when Mike said to pick up my pack to catch the bus to where our truck was parked. That was quickly resolved with dinner at the Arizona Room of Bright Angel Lodge where we sat in quiet reflection and watched sunset over the canyon.
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