Grand Canyon 3
After spending our second night at Bright Angel Campground, we got up "early" to head up the Bright Angel Trail 4.5 miles to Indian Garden. When I say "early" it's important to note that almost everyone was already gone from our campground by the time we hit the road. In fact, as we hit the trail, the first mule train had already made it down the Kaibab. Now, granted, the driver had started at 4:30 am...
This trail was not difficult at all. We were almost completely in shade (though we accomplished that by hiking in the morning), and the switchbacks weren't bad at all. We encountered other folks, but not many. We walked along a creek most of the way, too, which added to the charm of this trail.
We found ourselves at Indian Garden campground before noon. There were several open campsites, including a very shaded site which we pounced on. We were warned that the local squirrels were quite proficient at finding food, so we made sure to take every scrap out of our backpacks (the previous ones who stayed at this site apparently didn't and paid the price).
After we set up, it actually started getting chilly. Chilly (and cloudy!) enough that we put the rainfly on the tent and climbed in and napped. It was wonderful (especially after we'd overworked ourselves the previous two days). When we got up, we were quite refreshed. We decided to pack our dinner-making implements to go out to Peninsula Point for the sunset. For some reason, I can never remember the name of that point; I variously called it Panorama Point or Inspiration Point or Perspiration Point (or even Yaki Point). We made dinner up there and took the obligatory picture (which you can see below).
The view out there is fantastic. Maybe the best in the canyon (like anybody can really tell that). You have a panoramic view of the canyon from the inside, all overlooking the Colorado River. We were not alone out there. There were some 20 people, I think all from Indian Garden campsite, all enjoying the scenery. There were three other visitors as well: A9, 52, and 75. In case you didn't figure out their identities by their names, they were endangered California Condors. Though all literature suggested that we stay far away, nobody could resist getting close-up pictures. The condors, in fact, nearly stole the sunset's thunder. It seems that some of them came for a little romantic sunset viewing as well.
Beautiful creatures, aren't they?
The sun set on a clear evening; no clouds at all. The beauty of it was in watching the surrounding cliffs slip into shadow. We waited out there until it was dark enough that we could see (as our Hungarian friend Jakob put it) the Beacon of Gondor (or maybe instead of the beacon, we were seeing the lights from the Bright Angel Lodge at the rim). It was a great, moonlit night, and we walked back in the moonlight. We did, of course, use our headlights to be safe.
And it was evening, and it was morning, the third day.