Cottonwood Campground to Bright Angel Trailhead
(16.7 miles, +4,400/-1,600 feet).
It was going to be hard to beat our hike from the previous day, but we were happy that we would be on a different trail (the Bright Angel Trail) and we would be able to see the parts of the North Kaibab Trail that we missed in darkness two days ago.
We started the day early, passing some grazing deer.
Soon we made it to the turnoff for Ribbon Falls. A sign at the head of the trail said it had been closed recently to allow for a local Native American group to celebrate an annual religious observance.
Past Ribbon Falls, the views down to the canyon got better, this time rain-free.
By 10am we were back at the Colorado River, this time crossing a different bridge.
The climb up from the river was hot, but unexpectedly beautiful as it follows Garden Creek and its many cascades.
In the parts where we switchbacked up cliffs, the views were desert-dry and dramatic.
Shortly after passing Indian Gardens we passed a sign that made us laugh the rest of the day.
The rain and snow-free trail finally gave the views we remembered from our earlier trips.
The weather turned again shortly before we made it up to the South Rim, dropping sleet on us as we trudged the final mile. Half Cookie didn’t even bother to put her rain jacket on — she was just ready to be done!
And by late afternoon we made it. We walked around amongst the car trippers and day hikers marveling at the park facilities. It sleeted again, and a large group crowded in the bus shelter to wait it out. I said to Half Cookie, “Look! They are fleeing Nature!”
We continued our walk in the rain and sleet another 0.1 miles (to the next bus stop) where we found a steak (for Half Cookie) and an IPA (for me). A perfect finish to a great adventure!