Bright Angel Trail Area
The mini-blogs

Various Short Trip Reports

by Dennis Foster

The Battleship dominates the hike along the BA trail.

Click on any picture to see a larger image.

     Writing up a full-fledged trip report for every hike I have done in the Grand Canyon would suffer from at least two problems.  One, there are plenty of trips where not much happened.  This was especially the case for day trips that I took mostly for the purpose of hiking down and back as fast as I could.  Second, it would get repetitive.  How many trip reports do you need to read on hiking to Plateau Point?  Well, just one really.  But, there are usually some interesting features to remark on for every hike, and some unique photos.  So, I will endeavor to fill in this page (and, others) with these short stories and photos.  They are arranged, from top to bottom, in chronological order and linked to the list below.

2000-06-28  A Summer Day Hike To Pipe Creek Rapids

2004-02-22  An Attempt to Climb to "East Plateau Pt."

2009-07-01  Round Trip to Indian Garden

2013-11-30  Ruins in BA Wash & Garden Creek

A Summer Day Hike To Pipe Creek Rapids
Thursday, June 28, 2000

     An interesting hike to do, especially in the summer, is down the BA Trail "just" to the river.  Of course, for many first time hikers in the canyon, that is exactly what they want to do.  But, if they find out about Phantom Ranch, then that inevitably becomes the more attractive destination.  We drove up in the early morning and were on the trail by 6:55 am.  It was cool and partly cloudy.  The weather forecast was crucial in picking this day to hike.  We were at Indian Garden from 8:50 am until 9:30 am.  On the way down I dropped off two liters of frozen water at "2 Mile Corner" for the return.  While there is water at the 3 Mile resthouse, I find that it is rather warm - I think that the pipe is exposed to the sun as it climbs the Redwall.  So, why not bring my own?  At IG I finished off 2 liters of water and packed up another two for the trek to the river and back.  We reached the river at 11 am and stayed until 12:40 pm.  It was quite warm, but as we passed the noon hour clouds rolled in and cooled things off nicely.  We were back to Indian Garden by 2:35 pm and stuck around there until 3:07 pm.  As we arrived we stopped at the blackberry patch and gathered up quite a few of the berries to nosh on.  Delicious.  We reached the rim at 6:02 pm, making this nearly a 12 hour "day" hike!

Pictographs at "2 Mile Corner."

Blackberries below Indian Garden.

Does this waterfall have a name?  I presume that it is called Garden Creek Falls.  It is the water that flows from there into Pipe Creek, enhanced by the overflow from the pump house.

Ruins in Bright Angel Wash.

Annotation of three ruins.

Dennis at the River Trail junction.

Dennis & John at Pipe Creek Rapids.

Deer in the Indian Garden area.

An Attempt to Climb to "East Plateau Pt."
Sunday, February 2, 2004

     In April of 2003 John Eastwood and I hiked down the South Kaibab trail and out to the edge of the Tonto Plateau that I call "East Plateau Point" because it is just across Pipe Creek from Plateau Point.  We were intrigued by a possible route off the plateau all the way to the creek and the Bright Angel trail.  Alas, we were stopped by a cliff tantalizingly close to the bottom and had to backtrack out of the canyon.  Nearly a year had passed before we got another shot at this route, this time from the bottom.  So, on this cold and cloudy day in February we made the attempt.  We came up short because we couldn't see much of the route by looking up from the trail.  We made a couple of false starts and then gave up and hiked the rest of the way to the river before returning to the rim.
     We did spend a little time at the rest house by the river.  It is unusual in that there is a stone patio next to it and an apparently sealed up chimney.  I don't know if I have ever noticed this before.  We thought that maybe there was a time when the mule riders would come down this far on a day trip and have a BBQ here.  Someday I'm going to have to find out more about that.  On our return, we decided to climb up out of the creek bed via the original "Devil's Corkscrew" which, once you get about eight feet above the terrace here, you can easily follow up to where it crosses the current trail.  From here you can continue to follow the old trail, which we did, up to the Tonto trail, passing by a host of ruins.  It was a great day, even if we didn't find this route.  I did finally manage it a couple of months later (From the BA to East Plateau Point).

On a cold and cloudy day, the mile-and-a-half rest house sits below the Coconino cliffs with patches of snow nearby.  Click here for annotated view.

The main east ravine to the Tonto. 

River rest house ... chimney!? 

Dennis at Pipe Creek Rapids.

John at Colorado River.

After being stymied on our attempt to climb up to the Tonto on the east side of Pipe Creek, we returned via the original "Devil's Corkscrew" which was easy to follow up to the trail.

The Battleship up the old trail. 

Granary along the old trail.

Zoroaster shrouded in clouds.

Mystical south rim.

Round Trip to Indian Garden
Wednesday, July 1, 2009

     It used to be that backpacking permits could be acquired up to five months in advance in person.  For real popular hiking times - October and March - the permit office would have people standing in line on the first day these permits were available (i.e., five months in advance).  That system has change since then, and gone are the days of camaraderie with fellow travelers at the BIC.  Still, in 2009, that is the way the system worked and on July 1st I drove up to the canyon to get a permit for November (which is usually not that competitive).  Since I was up there, I figured I should do a hike, so made a round trip down the BA to Indian Garden.
     I usually keep a written record for my hikes, but this time I just used my phone camera to document my hike and to record the times I reached various landmarks.  That turned out to be a mistake as my recorded times are wrong.  But, I still have a gauge of how much time the hike took.
     After getting my permit, I drove to the BA Lodge and got a parking space in the dirt lot just yards away from the trailhead.  I wasn't carrying very much and the day was pleasant - in fact, we got some light sprinkling of rain as I neared the top on my way back.  I got to the 1.5 mile house in 33 minutes, the 3 mile house in 31 minutes and IG in 35 minutes, which is great time for me.  I spent about an hour at Indian Garden.  Coming up, those legs took me 39 minutes, 48 minutes and 45 minutes (in reverse order of course).  So, one hour and thirty-nine minutes down and two hours and twelve minutes back up.  The highlight of the trip had to be the two bighorns I saw just above the 3 mile house.  That is always quite a treat.  As a fitting end to the day, a stop at the Wendy's in Tusayan! 

A pack train carrying trash from Phantom Ranch heads up and passed me just below the Coconino.  Their usual route - the South Kaibab trail - is closed for repairs for a year, or more.  [Closed to mules, not to hikers.]

The 3 mile rest house. There is water here during the summer season. 

Behind the 3 mile house there
is now an outhouse...finally! 

Looking up at the Bright Angel fault, where the trail is, from 3 miles down.

U.S.G.S. marker near the top of the Redwall - 2256 feet below the rim.

An informational display at Indian Garden near to the day use area.

Up above the Plateau Pt. trail
is this "Victors Oasis." 

Posing by the water outside of
the 1.5 mile house, on my way up.

Emergency phone at 1.5 mile house. 

My 99 cent poncho was enough! 

Ahh . . . Wendy's! 

The Ruins of BA Wash & Garden Creek
Saturday, November 30, 2013

     It always seems like a good idea to schedule a hike right after Thanksgiving so we can start working off all that food!  This year some regulars from the business college (TS Amer, Bev Amer, John Eastwood) were up for this day hike down the Bright Angel and out on the Tonto trail to the so-called Bright Angel Wash, down the old abandoned trail to visit the ruins here and then continue along the base of the Tapeats into Garden Creek where we would visit some more ruins before returning to Indian Garden and the hike out.  Joining us were John's wife Kathy and my brother-in-law, Bob Stabo.
     We got an early start, as is usual.  On our way up to the canyon, we could see that it was covered by a cloud bank as far as we could see to the east and west.  As we got close, we were immersed in the clouds, which shrouded the rim all day.  Later we would find out that the day before, the clouds were below the rim for some spectacular views.  For us, we would have to hike down into the Coconino layer before we could see the canyon, and we could see all the way to the north side, but, of course, not the rims.  Pretty cool hiking.
     We were started down the trail at 9 a.m. and eating lunch at Indian Garden at noon.  Kathy decided to start back up and the rest of us continued over to BA Wash and checked out the ruins.  At the Garden Creek ruin I made it a point to look inside the main ruin as I had been told that there was a corn cob in there.  And, with the help of my phone flashlight I could see it!  We were back at Indian Garden by 3 p.m. and got to the rim, still shrouded in clouds, by 5:30 p.m.  There was some moisture in the air all day and the bushes at the top were all iced up on our return which added to the other-worldly scenery.

We hiked into the clouds which
persisted deep into the Coconino.

In "Bright Angel Wash" on the old
trail - me, TS, Bev, John, Bob.

Cliff granaries in a narrow ledge
in BA Wash and above larger ruins.

Corn cob at Garden Creek ruin.

High granary at Garden Creek ruin.

At the main Garden Creek ruin.

Hiking up Garden Creek. 

Hiking up to Indian Garden. 

Icy bushes near the rim. 

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