The final day is the most challenging one. We need to climb 3,000 feet in just 5 miles of trail.
We hiked for 4.99 miles and it took us 3 hours and 30 minutes. We went from 3,837 feet up to 6,843 feet, which makes it by far the most strenuous day of our trip.
Here is the trail just after leaving the Havasupai Gardens campground. You can see at the red arrow where we’re headed. That’s the spot on the South Rim where we will eventually exit after hiking five miles straight up.
Looking back into Havasupai Gardens where we just camped.
Along the trail there is a popular rest area with water and bathrooms and a place to hitch mules.
Here is a mule train passing us on the way down, bringing those Fat Tire beers and all the other provisions tourists consume down in the canteen. The arrow at the top points to our exit spot.
We had not planned for this at all:
However, the annular eclipse that occurred in Southern Utah the morning of October 14 just happened to be right during the time of our climb up. I had made the reservations for that day many, many months in advance and I had no idea that would be the day of the eclipse. But when we found out on the North Rim, we purchased a set of eclipse glasses. Looking up the wall, you can see the light of the sun hitting the right side of the canyon, but most of the trail is in the shade. It was just before 9:00am, the maximum coverage of the sun at this latitude. It would not be completely annular. We were hoping we’d find a good spot in the sun to see it.
It was very eerie. The sun hitting the walls of the Grand Canyon is usually very bright, but here we were in strange twilight.
Finally we got close to a light spot, but it was not on the trail. Devin scouted out a way to get across a side arm of the canyon and just reached that spot. Here he is wearing the eclipse glasses.
And here I am, looking at the sun. It was just a sliver. We had no way to take a picture of it with our phones. We were not far from Southern Utah from here, so this was as covered as the sun would get. The pictures don’t do it justice. It was at least 10 degrees cooler than it would normally have been in that spot, and the light was very strange in the Grand Canyon.
What an experience of a lifetime: Seeing an eclipse surrounded by this splendor of nature!
Once we were there, other hikers saw us and followed us over to that spot. If you zoom in you can see some of them just to the right of the tree. That’s where we had to scramble to in order to get out of the shade of the opposite wall that was blocking the sliver of the sun.
Here is a section of the map. The red arrow points to the spot we scrambled to in order to see the sun. The green arrow points to another spot later where the sun hit the trail. Everyone on the trail seemed to stop at that spot for a good view.
Still in the twilight, I am looking down from where we came. The campground we left a few hours before is at the red arrow.
Here is a picture of me with the Havasupai Gardens campground down below.
Finally we reached the last major layer of rock, the youngest rock, just some 200 to 300 million years old. We’re at the top of the white layer, and the red arrow points to that line on the North Rim in the far distance. We’re almost at the top.
Here we are within 5 minutes of arriving. At the red arrow you can see the Kolb Studio. It is located in the Historic District of Grand Canyon Village, just west of Bright Angel Lodge, and near Bright Angel Trailhead. This is a historic, sprawling, 5-story and 23-room building perched right on the rim of Grand Canyon. The photographers Emery and Ellsworth Kolb helped turn the Grand Canyon into a national icon. They built Kolb Studio, one of the earliest tourist destinations on the South Rim.
They began to take photographs of the mule riders from a small toll shack on the Bright Angel Trail. The toll shack would later become today’s five story home, theater and photo studio built right on the edge of the canyon. The studio was used to document the trips of visitors and create imagery of Grand Canyon for 75 years.
And here we are at the top. After four days of hiking, covering over 24 miles, and going down and up more than a mile in altitude. Mission accomplished.
I took one more photo looking down into the splendor of the Grand Canyon.