We took our down day to play the tourist. We rode the bus to the main part of the Village (where most of the hotels are located), had lunch in the historic Bright Angel Lodge, checked out the art at the Kolb Studio, and went to all of the shops. Kolb Studio has been in the Park for years at the Bright Angel Trail head. It was originally a photo and movie studio run by two brothers who took pictures of the mule-riding tourists. They also were the first to boat down the Colorado and film it. The Studio showed their movie. Now it is a gift shop with an art gallery.
We also went to a Ranger talk that night at the Shrine of the Ages. It was the first time we had taken the car out of Trailer Village and only because we were going to have to walk back in the dark. We heard all about how people get hurt in the Park. It turns out they have to rescue some where around 400 people a year and some do die. They try to warn people about the dangers of the edge but some visitors still get too close (we saw some quite a number of people getting in precarious positions to pose for pictures.)
The Ranger told us about the helicopter they keep in the Park for rescues and how they train to rescue people off steep cliff ledges. We did talk to a Search and Rescue volunteer on our way down Bright Angel Trail. She said they won’t stop people from doing stupid things. If you want to try and do something stupid, they will try and talk you out of it, but they won’t stop you.
The Bright Angel hike we planned to Indian Garden was a going to be a bit harder than South Kaibab – just over nine miles round-trip and 3,000 feet in elevation change. It took us about six hours, including rest stops.
We saw a lot of people on the trail – some were making their way back up from Phantom Ranch which is a major climb. Others, we on the last leg of a multiple day hike – one down to Phantom Ranch and then two back up, stopping at Indian Garden to camp. Of course these people looked well prepared, but we did see plenty of people that didn’t seem like they had any idea what they were getting into! I also have to mention the mules again because you couldn’t forget them most of the time. You had to watch where you were stepping all the time and the stench in some places was awful. You had to keep moving.
We had great views on the South Kaibab Trail into the Canyon, but you stay further back in a side Canyon on the Bright Angel Trail. Indian Garden made it worth the trip, though. We also had good views of the various geological layers that make up the Grand Canyon.
Indian Garden has a Ranger Station, bathrooms, water (all of the Grand Canyon water tastes great), picnic tables and there are several springs in the area. It is called Indian Gardens because the Havasupai Indians farmed the area as far back as AD 1300.
The Bright Angel Trail is actually originally an Indian trail. All the other trails down the Canyon were built later, either by the Railroad (for tourism) or by the National Park Service.
We were all cocky about how fit we were to do this hike when we met two “older”guys who had started at the South Kaibab trail that morning, hiked down to Phantom Ranch and back up Bright Angel. They had started the 17-mile hike at 6:00 AM and really didn’t look too bad when we chatted with them at both the 3 mile and 1.5 mile rest houses. They had no problem keeping pace with us, if not a bit quicker. It sounds cool to hike 17-miles, but I’m not sure it is really worth all of the pain.
Here is Alan after our hike just under the Kolb Studio.
We didn’t hurt too bad the next day – we went for a bike ride our last full day in the Park.