South Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon

May 25, 2011

Kaibab Trail

After our early drive up from Williams for a South Rim sunrise and then breakfast at the Yavapai Lodge, we were out at the trailhead of the Kaibab Trail shortly before 9am for a hike down the trail. Ashleigh, Jordan, Elyse, Brenda and Darla are about 50 yards into the trail and were rewarded with this view of the Grand Canyon. Our destination is Cedar Ridge, about 1.5 miles down the trail and down 1140 feet in elevation.

The girls seem happy to be out on the trail. It has warmed up a bit from the sub-freezing temperatures at sunrise, but it is cool and windy and the jackets feel good.

An overhang gives a little shelter from the wind.

Brenda and the girls are at the first switchback and already they have great views into the Canyon.

The series of switchbacks quickly take us deeper into the Canyon. Jeff and Brenda approach another switchback as Jordan and Ashleigh push the pace.

Whoa! Some of these switchbacks are hanging pretty close to the edge!

You have to be sure-footed as a mule to stay on this trail! And speaking of mules, they have the right of way on the trail. They make regular trips up and down the trail to supply Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the canyon.

Brenda, Jeff and the girls head on down the switchbacks, but have to keep looking up at the mule train bearing down on them from above. You could hear the steady clop! clop! clop! of their hooves above us. They didn't seem to be moving all that fast, but they were gaining on us. I believe there were ten of them in all, with a Ranger leading and another helper in the back half of the string.

We make it down the series of tight switchbacks and to the wide spot in the trail that you can see on the level below Jeff and the girls.

The Ranger directs us to stand to the inside of the trail, so we get to watch them go by at close range. We can even check out what is in the pouches.

OK, now the mules are by us, and we can follow them down the trail. Just watching our step a little more closely now.

The transport process seemed to work very well. The mules were sure-footed and alert.

When I looked at this later, I realized that the mules are going across the section of trail I looked down upon this morning at sunrise. They are at the base of the right wall I watched this morning.

We watched the mule train follow the base of the cliff and then move out to an area with open views of the Canyon.

We were now approaching another significant downward section after having followed the gently sloping trail along the bottom of the high wall. One of the surprising things I was dealing with in photography was the depth of the shadows. With the clear air and bright sunlight the shadows were very sharp and it was hard to properly expose both the shadow and the light in one image.

On to Cedar Ridge

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