Friday, May 25, 2012

Grand Canyon - Phantom Ranch

We reached Phantom Ranch about noon on the second day. 

There are a number of huts which you can reserve for about $120 per night but you probably need to reserve a year in advance. Apparently they are pretty basic inside.

A fire hose. I'm not sure how much use it would be in a real fire, but I suppose it would be a help. If there were a fire, I would be off to the river, standing in the water.

Large area of prickly pear.

This is probably the most famous campground in the canyon and a major stopping point for the runners who do the rim to rim in one day. There are just two toilets, one for males and one for females. At least they flush. Needless to say, there were two queues.

There was also a tap (faucet) where we could fill our water bottles. 

There is also a canteen where you can get food and drinks, even beer ($5). The lemonade ($2.50) is famous and I tried it. Any cold liquid would have been wonderful, but I did enjoy it. Although the room was crowded with people, there was only one young woman serving and she was not exactly friendly and welcoming. I couldn't tell if the room was air-conditioned or not and I suspect it wasn't.

This canteen is open to the public from 8 am to 4 pm and 8 pm to 10 pm. At other times you need to be a guest at one of the huts to get in.

Kelli served lunch which consisted of pita bread and some chicken and mayonnaise thing. Of course there were cranberries. Despite the heat, it tasted good.

We drank lots of water.

This group was doing the rim to rim in one day. You would need to start before sunrise and be very fit. There are also those to run a rim to rim to rim in a day. To be honest, I can't see the sense in it because you would have to concentrate only on the path and not on the scenery around you.

And so we loaded up our back packs again after lunch and wandered over to the campground which was about a quarter mile away and closer to the river.

Crossing Bright Angle Creek to the campground.

Ok, this temperature is not 'in the shade', but it is pretty impressive.

While Kelli erected the tents, we slackers walked over to the nearby creek and bathed our tired and sore feet. I discovered that I had developed a blister on the side of my right heel. I had applied Glide liberally all over my feet so I wondered it the water at Ribbon Falls had washed it off.

The temperature of the water was very pleasant. We discovered that you could give your feet a good massage by rubbing them on the rocks in the creek or wiggling them in the sandy bottom.

We weren't the only ones enjoying the cool water.

After a good foot soak, Kelli and I walked down to the beach at the Colorado River.

The 'Black Bridge' that leads to the South Kaibab Trail. Go to the link to read how the bridge was built. It's very interesting.

It was about a half mile walk to the river and yes, there is a sandy beach there. It's a popular stopping point for the rafts and boats that come down the river.

There were even some kayakers.

My feet in the Colorado. It was pretty cold but it felt good.

The water is quite clear.

More rafts appeared. This was the support boat for the kayakers. Prior to joining JRI, Kelli worked for a rafting company on the river. She enjoyed both ways of exploring the canyon. Apparently the rapids above this spot on the river are relatively benign. The next set of rapids down river are probably the most dangerous on the river. 

Some of the rafting companies offer an option where you can start up at Lees Ferry and leave the raft at Phantom Ranch and climb out of the canyon to the South Rim. You can also join the raft trip by hiking down.

Another group enjoying a swim. It would have been way too cold for me.

So we wandered back to the campground where it was time to blow up my air mattress.

You can see the south rim from here and the beach by the Colorado is visible from the South Rim at various points. It's about 5000' up.

Protection for the trees, possibly from deer.

Late in the day, we all wandered down to the bank of the river. Nirmal and I stayed longer than the others, watching the river flow by. He remarked that this was his favourite part of the trip so far, just watching this river. 'This river doesn't have to prove anything', he said.

Because it was so hot during the night, none of us used sleeping bags.

Next morning, Kelli was up early to prepare the coffee.

This was the dreaded oatmeal. I hate porridge, but I would have to say this was at least edible. It helped that the oats appeared to be whole rather than chopped or cut.

By now I was getting good at stuffing away the sleeping bag.

Our clean camping spot as we prepared to leave shortly after dawn. We needed to get an early start to avoid the heat when we started to climb.

There are two sets of toilet blocks at the campground and one of them was out of action. The remaining set of toilets were pretty filthy and if I noticed it, then they had to be bad.

Filling the bottles with water.

One of the huts near the toilet block.

Why one of the toilet blocks was not working. We had to walk about two hundred yards to reach the other block.

This is where the water bag sits in the backpack. One of the reasons why I had trouble with sucking water out of it was that the hose had a kink in it.

Kelli's emergency medical pack.

You may have noticed that Kelli wore sandals which she much preferred to hiking or trail boots. She was able to walk in streams and pools quite easily without taking them off. JRI does not recommend sandals.

Overall Phantom Ranch was my least favourite campground, though bathing my feet in the creek and the river was wonderful. It was just way too hot there.

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