Sunday, November 24, 2019
Start: South Kaibab trailhead
End: Bright Angel Campground
Elevation loss: 4700′
This morning, after restless sleep due to our room being right next to the very loud external door to the lodge (meaning anyone leaving the lodge heading for their room walked past slamming the door), we were up by 5:30am. We packed up and drove the car from Bright Angel Lodge to the long term hiker lot/Lot D in time to wait for 15 minutes for the Hiker Express bus to arrive.
Yesterday, when we picked up our backcountry permit, the ranger recommended we do our planned out-and-back hike as a loop hike. Given that suggestion, we were waiting at the Backcountry office for the 7am bus out to South Kaibab trailhead.
We arrived at the trailhead, used the privy, and headed down the trail by 7:30am. The first third of a mile or so was very slick, due to ice and snow. After that, the trail smoothed out. We passed by Ooh Aah Point and Skelton Point and hiked around O’Neill Butte.
We took a nice snack break at The Tipoff, and then continued downward into the inner canyon towards the Black Bridge.
We passed over the bridge and then headed to Bright Angel Campground along the banks of Bright Angel Creek, arriving by 12:45pm. We looked over all of the sites and snagged site 8, between the path and the creek, and we thought it was the best option of all the sites. The creek offered great white noise for a good night’s sleep.
After setup, we visited the Phantom Ranch canteen; we bought some kettle chips, Oreos, and a cream cheese bagel to supplement our food. We then wandered down to the Colorado River and the boat beach nearby, and spent some time looking at the historic ruins of stone houses left by the Pueblo people when they moved out of the Canyon.
We were also delighted to see many animals, including Mule Deer, Elk, and various rodents milling around the creek with no fear of humans; we were clearly seen as part of the scenery.
We ate an early dinner (and dessert) and, with sundown at 5:15pm but the inner canyon getting darker earlier, we were both asleep by 7:15pm.