Ribbon Falls Mile: 8.4 / 15.7 Elevation: 3,720
I had no idea what Ribbon Falls was all about, but the signpost claimed we had arrived at this location. A waterfall? Where? I was not really concentrating on it. The trail seemed to split and we could see a large group of people (yes, a dozen or more) just across the bridge and naturally we assumed we should go in that direction. But it seemed to be a dead end. The actual Ribbon Falls is a quarter mile off the path, so there was no way we could take the time. My leg was starting to consume my thoughts and my immediate concern was even this very short detour was a waste of time and energy. We need to be on the trail! It was probably a good thing I didnít realize we still had 5 and a half miles left before hitting Phantom Ranch. We continued on and I tried to jog as fast as I could without it hurting. The leg was really becoming a big annoyance and costing me any appreciation for the canyon..
With the leg hurting more and more, at one point a small wooden sign said 3.6 miles to Phantom Ranch (still a long way to go), and I knew this was going to be bad. Turning around and going back up was simply not an option! Not only was Cindy going to be at the South Rim, but the climb out would probably be easier in this direction.
I had one very comforting thought to keep me from completely panicking. As the trail was following the creek, we had leveled off to a good degree where the grade was fairly gentle. And there were small sections that ascended a bit before continuing the overall descent. On those short uphill sections I noticed no pain at all! If I could only finish this impossibly long section of trail Iíd be okay and the hike out might not be an ordeal.
Ron finally asked if I was getting tired since he could see Iíd slowed and was not taking as many pictures. I let him in on my leg problem and quickly added it seemed fine going up. But I would have a harder and harder time keeping up as it got more and more painful to jog. It was no longer just an annoyance. When I walked it was generally okay. The hike had become a nightmare; a very familiar one. From time to time I have these dreams where at first Iím running and then I canít move because my legs have become completely numb. Now around every corner I was hoping to just reach Phantom Ranch just so I could start the really tough part of the trail.
Though Ron was getting further ahead of me, making it seem like I was just strolling, we were now encountering a lot of hikers, 9 out of 10 of them heading down. As slow I thought, I was still passing everyone, just not as quickly as earlier. At one point I lost Ron. He was so far ahead I could not see him, even if there was a good quarter mile of trail visibility. I wasnít worried about this, but it did concern me how slow I must be going for him to get so far ahead. I knew at some point heíd wait up for me. (None of the following pictures shows even the smallest trace of Ron.) The trail was now hugging the canyon walls and it really was a neat section, but Iíd lost a lot of my earlier appreciation.
|Our route as finally approach
and pass through Phantom Ranch. Once there, we are on familiar
The Colorado River itself lies within a trench known as Granite Gorge. We often refer to it as the inner gorge. This is the part of the canyon which has actually been sliced out by the river. Most of the canyon has been carved by catastrophic flooding from the many creeks and washes. The Colorado River makes it all possible by being a huge conveyor belt of mud and rocks.
Phantom Ranch Mile: 14.0 / 10.1 Elevation: 2,560
It was such a wonderful sign that told me I had ar rived at Phantom Ranch. It was a familiar sign, too. It is the identical map of the Phantom Ranch area that I have posted on my website under the virtual tour. For just a moment I forgot that I'd just finished the easy part of the hike!
Soon I was passing the cabin dormitories and everything looked so familiar. The unknown part of the journey was over. Now every step was on a path traveled before.
As I passed the restrooms with several people waiting to enter, Ron was one of them! Yes, I answered, the leg was hurting more than ever, but soon we would be climbing and it would be better. He then told me why heíd darted ahead so far. He ran out of water and knew we were almost to Phantom Ranch. I still had a bit remaining since I had refilled. I used this break to eat half my sandwich and drink plenty of water. Eating the sandwich seem to really intensify my thirst which was hardly there before, a good sign I was still hydrated well.
As I waited I talked to one gentlemen who was probably the same age as myself. He had also come all the down from the North Rim, heading down at 6:00, some two hours before us. He was going to continue on the short distance to the river and then turn around and go back up the way we came. Because I felt that was even more difficult then the climb we faced, it seemed impossible to me at that moment.
Bright Angel Campground Mile: 14.8 / 9.3 Elevation: 2400
As we made our exit from Phantom Ranch and passed the Bright Angel Campground, Ron was going much slower and for the first time all day I didnít feel rushed and there was no pain. This was truly a wonderful place and so green in the area of Phantom Ranch to Bright Angel Campground. The temperature, however, was a little warm, but now I wasnít thinking at all of my missing cap. There was only the Colorado River ahead and getting onto the Bright Angel Trail. As we neared Silver Bridge, Ron picked up the pace by jogging and once again I would have trouble keeping up as we made our way down the River Trail. We were almost exactly 3 hours into the hike as we crossed the bridge. The first uphill section was okay, but the downhill that followed was brutal. Then the next uphill I knew what I was going to be in for an unpleasant climb as the leg was now even hurting on the ascent.
A few beeps from my walkie talkie were a welcome distraction. Could it be Cindy is already signaling us? It didnít make sense. First, it was too early if she spent any amount of time exploring the North Rim, and we were way too far away. The walkie talkie has a electronic beep besides regular voice and the beep travels much farther than voice. So you can signal from a much greater distance than you can carry on a conversation. I had to assume they were random. This happened three times. After the River Trail, the walkie talkie was silent.
I took a few pictures on this trail, but with every other thought now consumed by trying to somehow take it easy, I finally put the camera into the pouch where it would mostly remain for the rest of the day. I actually had thoughts of throwing it away to save the weight! Now I only wished to complete this section and get to the actual start of the Bright Angel Trail (BA). Later Ron would tell me he checked his monitor which showed the temperature was above 100. After seeing this he decided we should not waste any more time and get out the hottest part of the canyon.
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