Saturday morning began with heavy snow, so much that Mark (that's my brother) and I weren't sure we'd be able to hike at all. We arrived at the Kaibab trailhead at about 11:00 and the weather had cleared considerably. Thought we'd hike to the Tonto cutoff and across to the Bright Angel trail out, avoiding the inner gorge as time was not on our side. At the cutoff we were feeling good so went on down to Phantom Ranch then out the Bright Angel trail (17 miles). Here are a few shots. The Kaibab was engineered for winter use. Most of the trail is exposed to the sun, preventing ice buildup. The tradeoff--lots of mud!
The Kaibab follows cedar ridge projecting into the outer canyon and is noted for its wide vistas. Mules haul supplies to Phantom Ranch and garbage out via the Kaibab trail.
At the edge of the inner canyon one can see the river for the first time and it remains in view to the end of the trail. The inner gorge is a huge canyon in its own right. The marvelously engineered Kaibab winds in the foreground.
At the bottom!
The lower reaches of the canyon were filled with blooming desert plants. These prickly pear at the river's edge were especially beautiful. The Kaibab suspension bridge is in the background.
Phantom Ranch in the spring is an oasis of lush vegetation. Wished we could stay awhile but had only six hours till dark and needed to start the hike out.
From Phantom to Indian Gardens on the Bright Angel trail has a special mystique. The first couple of miles follow the Colorado then turn south at pipe creek (below). At this point one can see the south rim 5000 feet above.
Photos ©1999, Mark Smith; used by permission