From Cottonwood to Phantom

An early start onto the trail begins with the starry skies and a full Moon but soon turns into dawn and sun on the distant South Rim.
All shapes and textures of rock abound. Imagine the heat and pressure to fold and squeeze these layers that jut up into the sky.
This large block has wonderful moss and lichens echoing the local sculptures

The bridge detour to Ribbon Fall.
The most lush area on the way down from Cottonwood. The trail winds through rushes and tall grasses for a few hundred yards. As I walk through I can feel the humidity and a cool breeze. What a great contrast to sweltering heat.
Around the bend and a few more minutes....the canyon opens up a bit and the creek is running  off to the right. Grasses appear and trees emerge as I get closer to Phantom Ranch.
After getting set up at campsite 2, it's time to take a walk around. Continuing down along the creek the Colorado awaits. You can hear it before seeing it.

I decide to take a walk across the first suspension bridge and then back over the other one to return to camp...on the other side of the silver suspension bridge, there's a River Trail which climbs up and follows a path chiselled into the rock face over to the Black Bridge.
Here's the view looking back after crossing the silver bridge. Tomorrow morning, after crossing here, the Bright Angel Trail to the South Rim goes off to the left of the picture.
It's amazing how turbid the water is. Lots of sediment, and tremendous eddy currents mean no swimming...
For a few vignettes of the River Trail walk from this bridge up and across to Black Bridge,

click here for a YouTube video.

It runs about 4 minutes, and shows a few highlights of the loop from Silver Bridge to Black Bridge.
Emerging from the short tunnel, the Black Bridge awaits.
From here back to camp, the trail is close to Bright Angel Creek.
Near where  it flows into the Colorado is this sign:
So this is how clear Bright Angel creek waters join and mix in. The Colorado's fast flow accents the "mixing line"
Campsite 2. Tents set up with the far bank of Bright Angel Creek in the background.
Next: Up early and start the climb to Indian Garden
Most of those who stay in the cabins of Phantom Ranch enjoy a hearty meal prepared for them. By applying months before hiking day, a limited number of hikers can join in for dinner and/or breakfast. To enjoy the food vicariously, I tagged along at the end of the queue. The guy in front of me was the last patron they were expecting, so I got a quick look inside the door, long enough to smell the stew and the other wonderful aromas.
Sunset at the end of a busy day. After a bit of night photography, it's time for a few hours sleep.
Food and aromatic things go in the ammo box to keep critters from dining.
One of the things I really enjoy on hikes is talking to people along the trails. You never know what interesting things you'll share and learn.

As we're setting up our stuff at the campsite, a Ranger visits to check permits and chat about important things like food storage. Well, it turns out that he's a volunteer, and has been here for decades. Long ago he was active in dolphin and whale research, and countless other outdoor-loving activities. It was great to talk with you Sjors.

This link, working as of Oct 2011, kindly takes you to a book excerpt with some stories involving this intrepid guy..
Chapter 13:  Page 94 Ranger Confidential : Living, Working and Dying in the National Parks

One connection leads to another. Here's a link to the travels of Nathan Healy by bicycle from Anchorage Alaska down to the southern most city in the world - Ushuaia in Argentina. He spent some time in the Grand Canyon and bumped into Sjors as well. Nathan's photo journey is a must see in its own right!

As Nathan says "Get on your bike and ride it!"

Sjors visiting us at Campsite 2.
The blue line on the map shows the path into Phantom Ranch from up canyon.
The red line shows a walkaround down to the river and then along the River Trail. Get an idea of the campground path from this short video.
Walking up the campground trail past the group sites up to site 2
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