We walked slowly and unsteadily along the trail, giving each other wary glances as we slipped on ice that had hardened from the previous night’s sudden snowfall. A slide in the wrong direction would mean plunging thousands of feet down into the Grand Canyon — a scenic free fall, perhaps, but not one my friend and I were interested in taking that cold March day.
We had decided on a whim to visit Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park over a weekend. In order to maximize our outdoor playtime, our goal was to hike as much as we could of Bright Angel Trail, a 12-mile roundtrip day hike that begins on the south rim of the Grand Canyon and descends 4,380 feet to the Colorado River.
As we made our way downward as delicately as possible, the blustery, angry skies cleared, and the sun sparkled through the silver clouds, illuminating patches of the expansive, multicolored canyon before us. Seafoam-colored stripes interlaid the tawny sandstone, shale and limestone cliffs that were dotted with emerald-green shrubs.
The snow melted into muddy puddles, and we trekked onward, stopping for a brief repose at each of the rest stops along the route. (There are multiple along the trail, each with a couple of toilets. Water is only available seasonally at the 1.5-mile, 3-mile and Plateau Point rest houses, but it’s available year-round at the Indian Garden rest house, which is located at 4.5 miles.)
The trail was peaceful and uncrowded, and the views from nearly every point were so dazzling that it was almost too much to take in. We lazed on a large, toasty rock and spotted a large family of deer eating their lunch as we ate ours. As the afternoon drew on, we finally began the trudge upward, which — though steep — wasn’t as grueling as we had anticipated. We drank in the cool spring air and absorbed the sun’s radiant beams, indulging in the canyon’s beauty and tranquility.