This trip I went down the South Kaibab Trail, spent 2 nights at Bright Angel CG, did a day trip up Phantom Canyon, and returned via the Bright Angel Trail. The weather forecast was sketchy at best. It was constantly changing, and never looked very appealing, but there’s nothing you can do about that. The weather turned out to be very nice. Highs in the mid 60’s and lows in the 40’s. It only rained the 2nd night, but even then it was only a few sprinkles a couple times throughout the night. The next morning the skies were blue and partially cloudy again. I was trying out a bandanna dealie from Buff, and I loved it. You’ll see it in pretty much every picture. I was also sporting a new pack, the Kelty Shadow 4500, and a new bag, a 25° Kelty Lightyear 650 down. Both of those were great. With those two new additions to my backpacking arsenal my full pack weight (water, food and all) for a 3 day trip is 35 lbs.
The South Kaibab Trail is one steady descent. Looking at the vertical profile of my track on my Explorist 600 it’s almost a smooth 45° angle from start to finish. The views are great. A mountain goat was spotted on the way down. Mileage: 7.6. As soon as I got my pack off at the BAC (Bright Angel Campground) I went down to the creek to find a nice pool of water to sit in for a nice ice bath (it’s good for the muscles). A father & his two sons were washing their feet off nearby and they could barely stand to put just their feet in, and here I was trudging across the creek and comfortably sitting down in a pool & cooling off. A couple scouts were walking back to their site and they stopped to gawk at me. It was hilarious watching these people get so worked up over it. Sure it was freezing, but that was the point. The air temp was probably around 50-55°
Phantom Canyon isn’t marked or really mentioned in any GC lit, but it’s got some pretty cool waterfalls just out of view from the North Kaibab Trail, and it requires wading to get to them. After about a mile there’s a really deep pool that I didn’t want to go through since getting wet and cold in that canyon, a good ways from dry clothes would’ve been a really bad idea. On the way back some guys who had been past that said that it just opens up into a clearing around the corner and there’s nothing to see.
The BAT was pretty much the same as last time, except this time I made it out in 4 hours and 50 minutes. That last mile is the real killer. Looking at the vertical profile of the BAT it’s a gradual rise up until a mile past Indian Gardens and then it gets really steep, gaining twice as much elevation in half the distance (just a guess).