Hiking Bright Angel and river miles 89-96

We set our alarm for 4:30am, made cups of oatmeal and blueberries for breakfast, and met our hiking guide in front of Bright Angel Lodge at 5am (ish). Once everyone arrived, we set off for the trailhead as the sun came up. Almost immediately after starting, we stopped to wait for bighorn sheep to move off the trail. The trail descends about 2,000 feet in the first two miles, then flattens out some. We stopped at the 1.5 and 3 mile rest houses for a short rest and water. By the time we reached Indian Gardens (4.5 miles down), the sun was up and it started to get hot. Shortly after that, we descended another series of switchbacks called the Devil's Corkscrew. After about 5 hours, we made it to the river and the boats: 7.5 miles and 4,800 feet down from the rim.
The river looked like chocolate milk, filled with sediment washed in from tributaries during the monsoons. We moved our stuff into dry bags and loaded them onto the boats. After lunch on Pipe Creek beach, we set off down the river. We ran three big rapids and a couple small ones before we stopped to camp between miles 96 and 97.
As we unloaded the boats, we saw lightning in the distance. Shortly after, the monsoon arrived with heavy rain and strong winds. Evan sat in his tent to keep it from blowing away while we set up the other tent and staked them both down. Once the tents were up, we went out to play in the rain. The guides brought out little wooden kayakers, and raced them in a creek that appeared in camp. As the rain and wind slowed, the guides set up a tent over the kitchen area and cooked dinner. It was dark by the time the food was ready, and we ate by headlamp.
Our CanX hiking met us in front of the Bright Angel Lodge, and we started down the trail about 5:15am.
Just a few minutes down the trail, we stopped to watch a family of bighorn sheep ahead of us.
We carried two liters of water and our clothes, shoes, raingear, and sunscreen for the next 8 days in the canyon.
Once off the trail, the sheep blended in with the hillside.
Shortly after we started, the sunrise lit up the canyon rim.
The trail changed color as we descended to the next rock layer.
Evan was ahead of us on the trail most of the time
We descended about 2,000 feet in the first two miles.
The trail sloped down gently after the first set of switchbacks.
Yellow-backed Spiny Lizard
At Indian Gardens, we filled our bottles and poured water over ourselves.
Trees and green bushes turned to brown hillside away from the creek.
Northern Tiger Whiptail
Past Indian Gardens, the trail sloped more gradually downhill.
view across to the Devil’s Corkscrew set of switchbacks
This part of the trail was sunny, hot, and steep.
Our hike ended when we met the boats at Pipe Creek Beach. We moved our stuff into dry bags and had lunch on the beach.
About 1pm, we moved out into the current and started down the river in Gary’s boat.
We rode through our first medium-size rapid just a few minutes after launching.
The views changed every few minutes as we followed the curves of the river.
Gary described the rocks as we passed: the shiny black rocks are 1.8 billion year old Vishnu Schist.
We stopped to camp on the and surrounded by shiny black Vishnu schist. The clouds started to gather as we set up camp.
We set up Evan’s tent and spread our clothes out to dry on the rocks.
The big storm clouds moved over our camp, with lots of rain and strong winds as we tried to set up the second tent.
Once the tents were set up, we went to play in the rain. Some of the guides had tents over their boats.
A stream appeared through our camp.
Lynne, the head guide, brought her wooden kayaker out to run the rapids of the new creek.
Once the wind slowed down, the guides set up tents and cooked dinner. The rain mostly stopped as it got dark.