The call for "Hooaaahhht Coffeeeeee" went out at 4:30AM. It was already twilight in the East and it was time to pack up camp and get on the rafts for the final 3/4 mile of our journey. We had all come a long way on this trip. From the first night where everyone managed to find a place to sleep in private, this last night looked like a refugee camp. We didn't have much room and everyone slept right next to everyone else. Here you can see everyone's gear and a corner of what we at first called the "Miller plot" and then renamed to Miller Estate.
Here you can see the bridge that connects the Kaibab trail from the North to the South wall. We went a little further downstream to Phantom Ranch and crossed our own bridge.
The facts of the Phantom Ranch trail are as follows: Its a 10 mile hike from the river to the rim. It is a 1 mile vertical difference from the river to the rim. Now the mathematically inclined will say that is only a 10% grade. Not a problem... It was a challenge. They tell you to have two one liter water bottles and to fill them full at the bottom. there is a halfway stop called Indian Gardens with a water station and a 3 mile (from the top) stop with a water station and a 1.5 mile stop with a water station. We filled our water at every stop. You do drink a LOT of water on this hike. You are also advised to rest for 30 minutes at each stop if you are having difficulty.
We left the river at 7AM and were to Indian Gardens by 10:30. This is going well we thought. Unfortunately when you get to Indian Gardens you have only gone 1/4 of the vertical distance. We finally arrived at the rim at 3:30. We made a lot of extra stops on the last half of the hike. Jane did not drink enough water during the first half and was struggling a bit during the second part of the hike.
In fact with half a mile remaining she was completely pooped. We asked one of our fellow hikers to send Josh back to carry Jane's pack the last half mile. Josh wins the good sport award for the day.
Now you might wonder is the hike worth it for all that work? Yes, absolutely you get to see the Canyon in a way that you just can't imagine by looking down from the rim. Here you can see some of the trail we came up. But not all the way to the river that is hidden in the distance.
Pictures don't do justice to the amazing beauty of this corner of the world. We are all really glad we did this trip. As I'm writing this from the comfort of the Sedona Hilton, I'm inspired by the message on my plastic Gin and Tonic glass which says that "Travel is not about getting from point A to B, Travel should renew your zest for life." This trip has certainly done that.