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.