Sunday, November 27, 2016

Grand Canyon Mule Trip...Up is Mandatory

This sign is primarily for hikers to think twice before continuing down the trail, but it applies to us too. I think we all were sorry we had to go back up so soon, and would have preferred a longer time to enjoy Phantom Ranch. I am so glad we chose the two night option. I can't imagine riding down one day, and going right back up the next morning.
However, early Thursday morning right after a quick breakfast, it was our mandatory trip back to the rim. Here we are, heading back to the Black Bridge in the early morning light.
 A stop by the Puebloan Ruins for saddle check and instructions for the ride up.
 Sandi is ready with her camera.
 We will be taking the South Kaibab Trail to the rim, which is shorter, but steeper than the Bright Angel Trail we came down.
So the mules will get a lot more rest stops, since going up is harder than going down. Most of my pictures are taken at the rest stops, because I too had to hang on and concentrate more going up.
And Penelope needed a lot of encouragement and "motivating," for which I had to use my camera hand.
 View from the second rest stop, looking down at the bridge and boat beach.
 Another view looking up.
 We were here for awhile because we had to wait and let the pack mules go by. Here they come.
 JT, who was one of our guides coming down, is back at his regular job on the pack mule train today.
 Pack mules passing by. Simon, in the black hat, is our guide going up.
 Hi JT!
 They've got quite a load today.
 There they go, so we can continue too.
 Climbing and motivating.
From the next rest stop, if you look carefully, you can see rafters approaching the boat beach. And you can see the pack mules going down the switchbacks.
 Some more views from the next rest stop...

 Simon is pointing out some of the rock shapes.
 This one is called the Guardian Angel of the canyon.
 I forget what the one on top was called...maybe a castle?

 Continuing on...
 We are getting higher.
 There was a joke about the balancing rock on the left, but it's gone now.
 This rock resembles a stampeding bison.
 And Simon says this is a mule facing the canyon while he rests.
 The profile of a face...
 See it now?
 A freight train?

 The Colorado River far below.
Watch Penelope's "Ear Stroke" as she walks. I thought it was cute. Click on the video.
Resting on a wide plateau.
 Group shadow picture.
 More views...
 Do you see the Submarine?
 Can you see it now...way up there.

 A Covered Wagon Train...the one on the left fell over the cliff.

 All those peaks had names... one was a temple.

 Ok, on we go...
That's me in the black hat. Diana was in the back and took all the pictures that have me in them. 

Passing some hikers. The mules have the right of way, and hikers must follow the wrangler's instructions so we can pass.
 Resting again.
 Hikers going down the trail.

 And we are still climbing.

 Sandi rounding a switchback.
 Diana, taking a picture of me as I take one of her. A couple from Hawaii is behind her.
 Ah, no lunch stop today, but we did get a potty stop.

 And it is getting colder and windy!
 It doesn't look it, but rain and thunderstorms are predicted for this afternoon. We are hoping to beat them to the top.
 But we still have a lot of climbing to do!
 The vault toilets.
 I think they tie Penelope so tight because she has a tendency to bite the other mules.
 Mules at rest.
 And we are off!
 Climbing again!

 Snoopy lying on his back on his doghouse.
 A window in the ridge.
 Snoopy and the window.

 Window to Heaven...
 Cremation Canyon...but I forget the rest of the story, lol.
 We are watching the clouds as they get closer.
 At the top of the far rim you can barely see Desert Tower, on the east side of the park.

 A steep section.
 Switchbacks below.
 Whew! Let's rest.

 Our route below.
 A skeleton was found in this cave, perhaps an old miner.

 Another steep climb; Penelope is lagging behind.

 This rock has fallen from the rim at some point. Notice the fossilized tracks across it. Maybe sheep?
 That rock is resting against the tree below on the right.
 We have climbed a lot!
 Approaching Cedar Ridge, where we get another break.
 And we are still watching the clouds.
 Climbing up the ridge.

Our group photo. Left to Right: the Hawaiian couple, Diana, Birdie, me, Sandi
 And just the 4 of us.
Diana too this picture.
Cedar Ridge

 Back on the trail...

 Climbing again...
That's me in front of Birdie. 

Somewhere near "Ooh Ahh Point." No, I didn't make that up.

 Simon says this is an awesome view after it snows. I bet it is.
 Keeper of the Canyon?

Whistling Indian 
 Maybe that's Ooh Ahh Point where the hiker is. We couldn't stop.
 Hikers admiring the view.

 Our last set of switchbacks is up there.
 Can you see the hikers?
 Close to the rim.
 Let's do it!
Diana's pic of Birdie and me on a switchback. 
 Me, motivating Penelope.
Looking down at those steep switchbacks.

 Almost there!
Get ready, at the count of 3, yell, "Yee Haw" (which rhymes with Hee Haw).
Birdie at the top.
Riding to the mule barn.
The End!
From there a shuttle took us back to Bright Angel Lodge where we turned in our yellow jackets and caught another shuttle to the campground. I hope you enjoyed the trip half as much as we did.