Prior to our little adventure yesterday we had gone to the Backcountry Permit Office to see what was available for an overnight trip. Somehow, Sue and Fred had talked me into a little backpacking hike and an overnighter. It really didn't take much convincing on their part as I was ready for a little adventure. Sue and Fred have hiked all the way to the river previously, spending a night at Phantom Ranch, then stopping off a second night at the Indian Gardens campground, making the trek to the top the following day. They have also done a lot of hiking and backpacking to various other places. They had also “trained” for this trip. So they were “old pros” at this backpacking thing. Me? Never backpacked. Never slept under the stars. There's a first time for everything!
As it turns out, there was a spot open at the Indian Gardens Campground for the next day, Tuesday. We were warned that there was a chance of precipitation Monday afternoon, possibly even some snow Monday night. We went ahead and made the reservation anyway.
Monday afternoon, after our return from Cedar Ridge, the temperature dropped dramatically. It had started raining in the late afternoon but that rain quickly changed to snow! Big flakes. Wet flakes. Lots of them. At first it didn't stick, but we soon noticed it accumulating on the branches of trees. By the time we went to bed Monday night, there was about two inches of snow on the ground. And it was cold. It got even colder during the night. And the snow was still there on Tuesday morning.
It was pretty, but we really could have done without it! I guess Mother Nature just wanted us to be able to experience all facets of the Grand Canyon.
By the time we had breakfast and double checked to see that we had everything, the sun had come out. It was about 8:30 when we left for the trailhead. Fred dropped Sue and me off, parked the car in the overnight lot, and returned within a few minutes. Then we walked to the trailhead. When we got to the Canyon, another surprise awaited us!
Fog! Filling the Canyon! Yes, snow, we had expected. But fog? One amongst our party, who shall remain nameless (not me), wasn't sure that we should continue. It would be too slippery. We couldn't see. But the other two of us took the positive attitude (or perhaps, were a little crazy) “It will get better. The fog will go away. The snow won't be very far down.” On we went. This picture was taken at 8:42 a.m. just beyond the first turn into the canyon.
Sue and Fred at the first tunnel, just .18 miles from the rim and ten minutes into the hike. The tunnel is visible in the previous photo. It was slow going. It was slippery. We took our time. Others had gone down that path before us, so it had to be okay, right?
One of the worst patches of the trail, about 30 minutes into the hike. Beneath that fresh layer of snow was a very thick layer of slippery ice. This section of the trail gets little, if any, sun.
To be continued... part two