It’s getting dark when I rejoin the trail, so I’ll supplement this stretch with some photos from May. The trail enters the Box for the final several miles to Bright Angel Campground. This narrow section of the canyon is carved out of the Vishnu Schist, some of the oldest rock visible in the world (about 1.8 billion years old). The trail is stuck between Bright Angel Creek and the wall of the canyon, criss-crossing the creek to whichever side affords slightly more room. During the day in the summer, the black schist absorbs and radiates heat from the sun. Official temperature readings at Phantom Ranch are taken in the shade, and can reach 120-130ºF (50ºC+). Temperatures can climb significantly higher in the sun and when accounting for the radiant heat contributed by the rocks; it’s also not uncommon to reach radiant temperatures over 140ºF in the Inner Canyon, including the Box. Overnight temperatures rarely drop below 70 degrees in the summer. Last summer, people’s shoes quite literally melted on the rocks and rangers successfully cooked eggs on them. It’s like a geologic convection oven, a miniature Death Valley. Please do not attempt hiking in the Inner Canyon during the hours of 10-4 from May-September.
Bright Angel Canyon is the widest portion of Grand Canyon, stretching 18 miles between the North Rim, where it separates the developed area from the Walhalla Plateau and Cape Royal, and the South Rim at Grand Canyon Village. Like many side canyons in the Grand Canyon complex, it is formed along a fault line. Faults leads to cracks in the rocks and allow water to more easily erode them in those areas.
Reaching Bright Angel Campground, I set up shop at the stock site as assigned and stretch out on one of the picnic tables. Time to get some good rest for the night to prepare for the hike out tomorrow. I have some friends planning a bit of a welcoming event for me when I reach the South Rim.
(Note: I will supplement this entry with photos that I took on the same trail hiking Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim (R3) back in May.)
I’m Chris, or as I’m known on the trail, Aspen. My trail name comes from the aspen foliage that I hiked through in northern Arizona on my thruhike of the Arizona Trail. I have traveled, hiked, and cycled all over the US and many countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Europe as well. I have traveled to 44 US states and numerous countries across each of these areas.
I write about the hiking and cycling that I do across North America as well as my visits each of our 419 national parks; I aim to visit each one. My current total is over 170. I also work as a seasonal ranger, so feel free to ask me anything about a park and I’ll happily share any advice I may have on that park so you can have an enjoyable visit.
My most recent thruhike of the Arizona Trail started on September 21st at Lee’s Ferry and arrived at the northern trailhead on September 28th, and Mexico on January 9th.
In between, I hiked south through “the land of Arizona, through the desert heat and snow, [along] a trail for folks to follow, from Utah to Old Mexico.”
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