A Day in The Canyon – Part 3

Carl and Be - A Day in the Canyon

Our rim to river hike was only one part of our Grand Canyon adventure. We also spent a day in the canyon enjoying the surroundings.

If you plan on hiking to the bottom of the canyon, and can spare an extra day, we highly recommend spending a day at the bottom. It’s just too majestic not to spend some time enjoying the scenery.

Grand Canyon

Although we called Thursday our “rest” day, we didn’t spend much time resting. There was just too much to see and Jean and Rick were great guides in helping us experience as much as we could.

Our guides in the Canyon
We were so blessed to have Jean and Rick and their wealth
of knowledge about the Grand Canyon

After a delicious breakfast at the Phantom Ranch Canteen of eggs, sausage, bacon, and potatoes, we prepped our packs for a day hike and headed out to hike the River Trail.

The River Trail

The River Trail goes from the Bright Angel Bridge to the South Kaibab Bridge on the south side of the Colorado River. The round trip from Phantom Ranch was approximately 1.7 miles.

We’ll cross Bright Angel Bridge and take the path to the left,
heading back to South Kaibab Trail


Both the Bright Angel Bridge and South Kaibab Bridge are suspension bridges. The Kaibab Bridge has boards across the bottom for the mules to walk on. The Bright Angel Bridge does not. For this reason, mule trains do not go across the Bright Angel Bridge. Since there are no boards on this bridge, the Colorado River can be seen underfoot and you can feel a slight sway as you cross the bridge.

Bright Angel Bridge
Watching the Colorado River rush by while crossing the bridge

The trail follows the cliff was on the right

This hike was my favorite part of our day in the canyon. The trail had an easy-to-hike grade, followed the Colorado River, and offered breath-taking views up and down the river.

We walked, took pictures, admired the view, and took advantage of Carl’s knowledge of geology to identify rock formations.

Carl, giving a geology lesson

We passed many interesting formations, including one that looked like it would fall out of the surrounding rock at anytime. We got Rick and Jean to pose under it for a picture. Even though they knew the boulder above them wasn’t moving anytime soon, it must have still been a little unnerving to stand under it for this picture.

Rick and Jean under the “floating” boulder

Rick even found an area that looked good for rock climbing (even if it was for only 2 feet).

Rick "rock climbing"
“These look like great holds”

At the end of this hike, we crossed the South Kaibab Bridge and hiked down to the small patch of “beach”. The water was a “cool” 42 degrees. Of course we had to put our feet in the water, As Carl said, “it had to be done”.

And so, we waded out far enough to be “in the water” for a picture. Rick had to be fast with the camera as I didn’t last long at all.

You can tell by my balled up fists and Carl’s raised foot, we weren’t going to last long.

We sat on the beach for awhile and enjoyed the warm temperatures and serenity of the Colorado River. The water seemed so smooth and calm and yet hidden below the surface was a very strong current. Strong enough to carry a person downstream at an alarming rate.

While we were enjoying the beach, we got to watch a mule train crossing the South Kaibab Bridge. These animals are an integral part of the Grand Canyon. They carry supplies both in and out of the canyon. Without them, meals (AND BEER) at Phantom Ranch would be impossible.

If you look close on the bridge, you can see the mules

Side Trip

On our way back to Phantom Ranch, we stopped by the Ranger’s Cabin. On the porch were the stretchers they use to transport injured hikers to locations where they can be lifted out by helicopter.

Safety Note: A good reason to take care not to get injured… rescue helicopters can only land in certain areas within the canyon. If you get hurt and must be transported to an evacuation sight, it will most likely be a bumpy, painful ride.

Once back at Phantom Ranch, we enjoyed our bagged lunch and a rest. We then headed out to do a hike along Bright Angel Creek.


When Jean arranged for our meals at Phantom Ranch, she arranged for bag lunch for our day in the canyon. We picked these up in the Canteen after breakfast. The cost may seem rather pricey, but it is worth having a prepared lunch waiting for you when you return from hiking and that you don’t have to hike down and store yourself. And, anything you don’t eat for lunch makes for a great snack on the hike out.

Bright Angel Creek Trail

This trail follows Bright Angel Creek toward the north Kaibab Trail. The creek was really rocking during our time in the canyon. Being so close to such a powerful force of nature was exciting and a little unnerving.

The current was so strong that if someone were to fall in, they’d have a very difficult time in getting out.

Book Plug:

Before our trip, Carl and I listened to The Emerald Mile, the story of three friends who used improbable weather conditions to propel themselves through the basin of the Grand Canyon to set a world-record in 1983.

As we walked along Bright Angel Creek and listened to the roaring water, I couldn’t help but think of the men on that epic adventure down the Colorado River. If you like true adventure stories, this one is well worth the read.

The roaring of water as it rushed down Bright Angel Creek
made the hike feel more adventurous

At one point, we walked between a forest of tall green plants. It felt surreal to be among so much lush, green plants in an area that is normally brown.

So hard to believe temperatures can reach the 100’s during the summer. It was so nice and cool and everything was green.
The top of mountain in the background is where we
started our hike on Wednesday

The hike was beautiful. We hiked out to the first bridge on the trail then turned around and headed back to make sure we’d have time to enjoy a Grand Canyon beer and write some postcards before dinner.

Mailing postcards for the mule train
Be, placing the postcards in the saddle bag for the mule train to carry out of the canyon.

After an absolutely wonderful day, we enjoyed dinner in the Phantom Ranch Canteen and then turned in early in preparation for an early start on our hike the next day.

One of my favorite moments of the day –
getting photo-bombed by Rick and Jean

The last post on the Grand Canyon will cover our hike out of the canyon up Bright Angel Trail.