I arrived at the Grand Canyon on schedule and was able to check into my camp site early. It was a great site, nicer than what I had last time.
I got my stuff together under clear skies and set off to take the Bright Angel trail down to the river. Shortly after passing the Indian Garden (4.5 miles from the rim) I heard thunder, looked up ad saw a sky suddenly filled with dark clouds. I thought to myself, ‘If this breaks loose, I’m screwed no matter what, so I might as well do this.’
It was about this time that I had a neat encounter with some mule deer. They were wandering around right next to me, completely un-phased by my presence.
I made it to the river with only sprinkles. Shortly after turning back, I started getting slapped around by wind and it started raining for real. I donned my rain gear and pressed on because, when hiking the canyon, down is optional, up is mandatory.
I learned just how menacing thunder can be when it is echoing off the canyon walls. It’s a completely different experience in that setting. You feel the thunder inside you. There is also something truly amazing about watching lightning strike the rim, thousands of feet above you.
While it really sucked, making my way out while rain blew in my face, that was an experience that will be with me for some time.
The rain dissipated as I neared the half way point. I was grateful for that as the steepest part of the climb was still ahead. I paused at a rest house about three quarters of the way up and had a funny encounter with a very aggressive squirrel. I was refilling my water and it came right up next to me, looked at me, then grabbed an empty bag from my pack and took off with it.
I was really grateful to reach the rim safely. I then went to see what the camp site looked like. Sadly, it was a soggy mess and the temperature had dropped to about 65. I wasn’t prepared to spend the night in these conditions, particularly after having such a disheartening experience of getting caught in the thunderstorm. So, I caught a shuttle along the rim so absorb as much of the beauty as I could and then walked along the rim trail until dark before heading home.