By: Iris Gimbrett
GRAND CANYON TRAVERSE MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND
7 PM May 28 saw 45 eager Sierra Clubbers pulling away from WLA in a Continental Trailways bus headed for Grand Canyon. It seemed as if every vehicle in the area was trying to leave LA for the long weekend. About 1 AM in Blythe the "dinnerless" caught a bite and then it was lights out and "quiet please" in an attempt to sleep.
Flagstaff came up at 7 AM and the Arizona morning air tasted as good as our breakfast. Here we traded drivers and made the big swing thru the Painted Desert and the beginning of Indian country. Our driver, who appreciated this "gravy run" pointed out some antelope and obligingly stopped at Navajo Bridge for picture taking.
At 1 PM, amid patches of snow beneath the trees, we were ready to begin our North Rim descent. A 10 mile hike lay ahead of us to our night's camp so we wasted no time in hitting the trail. We faced a 4000' drop in the first four miles and no water 'til that point.
From just below the Rim we had a magnificent view of the far-off San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff. The trail was filled with flowers and flowering trees. As we dropped down we saw a cliff with a dozen cascading waterfalls on its face. Surely this meant that water was near to fill our canteens. So it was, and in short order we were at Bright Angel Creek quite a fiercely rushing stream. A teetering contraption of wire and planks which could be called a suspension bridge (the suspense came as one tried to cross it) was our means of getting to the other side. Here the trail led thru a small sandy plateau which was a garden of brilliant purple and pink cactus blooms.
Camp stoves flared a mile below Ribbon Falls and the aroma of food pervaded the Canyon. The thunder of Bright Angel Creek drowned the smaller sounds of blisters being popped and the groans of the weary. As darkness fell, the lights of the South Rim pricked the night sky high and far away above us.
Phantom Ranch was achieved quite early but the promised swim didn't materialize as the pool was empty. Part of the group swam in the River. We crossed the silt-laden Colorado, which at times reaches 12 mph.-it looked faster than that. A couple of chuckawallas were spotted along with one wild burro.
The afternoon climb to Indian Gardens was done in 100 degree weather and was the steepest part of the trip.
The next morning's prompted early start with the thought of a genuine shower bath at the South Rim gave stimulus to the hikers. The wide views of the canyon from this trail were myriad shades of pink thru purple.
At the top the first word was that the showers were 2-1/2 miles away but Bright Angel Lodge came thru and a procession of grubby, unshaven, dusty-booted hikers followed the bell boy along the carpeted passages to the showers. Others put away a hearty breakfast. Others reputedly did both. We departed at 11 AM and along the way we stopped to help another Continental Trailways bus having tire trouble. Dinner at Blythe, a San Bernardino sandstorm, and home at midnight. Thank to Ed Ostrenga, our organizer; hiking Leader Jess Logan; and asst. Neko (crack the whip) Colevins; and reservationists, the Cochrans. Here's a trip that needs only one adjective-"grand"; Grand Canyon-Grand Trip.
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