Expedition Team: Dave Miller, Matt Miller, Holly Miller, Rosie Miller
Date: 1987 & July 12, 2005
Rosie and I hiked this trail 18 years earlier (I have Super 8 film of this) but now it was two of my kids and me. We camped at the South Rim National Park Camper Village two nights and enjoyed one of the seven wonders of the world. The Grand Canyon is 280 miles long, one mile deep & 1,902 square miles. Dave, Matt (age 14) & Holly (age 12) hiked the famous Bright Angel Trail on the South Rim side down to Plateau Point and back. Beginning at 6:00am (Photo#1), the dangerous upper section of the trail had lots of steep, curving switchbacks & two tunnels (Photo#2). If you don’t pay attention you fall a long way to your death. We saw bighorn sheep, ravens & Holly fed tame squirrels (Photo#3 & #4) at the two rest shelters where we could refill our canteens. Once we had to squeeze to the side edge of a switchback to allow the donkey train carrying patrons to squeeze by. The donkeys were expensive but carried patrons to and from Phantom Ranch down at the canyon bottom along the Colorado River. The temperature got hotter as the steep descending trail reached the Indian Garden water shelter at mile 4.5 and leveled off to become flat ground. Just 1.5 miles more to go to Plateau Point Overlook. The overlook was perched on a cliff 1,300 feet above the gorge & the Colorado River below. One misstep and it was a fatal drop. We rested, drank water, ate snacks, took photos and saw hikers coming up the trail from below where they had left Phantom Ranch at 5:30am to climb back to the rim.
It took us 3 hours to hike the 6 miles down from the South Canyon Rim to Plateau Point. The climb back challenging as we ascended 3,100 feet. By 11am, rangers on the rim were closing the trail to new hikers because temperatures were becoming too hot in the canyon. Muscle Matt began carrying the knapsack (Photo#8) the last 1/3 of the way up as I was getting hot and tired. We rested and refilled canteens at both water shelters on the way up. Holly said this was the hottest and most tired she has ever been. As we neared the top after a 3.75 hour climb we could see Rosie, Shane and Jacque at the canyon rim. I had Matt film me acting in an “X-Files” scene on the upper switchback trail and I tripped and almost fell over the side. Later I thought, what a bonehead move to almost get killed after hiking 99% of the way. Finally, at the top we posed for photos (Photo#9) both fatigued and sunburned as temperature was 72 degrees on the rim and 85+ below in the canyon. The entire 12 mile Bright Angel Trail hike took 6.75 hours to complete. We drank lots of water & took naps in the camper. Someday we want to go back and hike down to Phantom Ranch, spend the night and then hike back up the next day.