Day Forty-Eight: Rainbows Make Everything Better

Map Miles: Today: 22.7/ Total: 798.5

GPS Miles: Today: 24.3/ Total: 843

Today’s Miles Sponsored By: Sarah, Maria, Bri, Gavin, James, Heather

Today I celebrate the 6th anniversary of starting my Pacific Crest Trail adventure. So much time has gone by but it still feels so fresh in my mind taking those first steps out of Campo away from the Mexican border. It’s incredible to reflect back on all the people that I’ve met and the places that trail has taken me since then. I definitely wouldn’t be here right now if it weren’t for those 4.5 months.

The trail up to the rim in the morning went quicker than I expected. Just taking it slow and steady, not wanting to push anything too hard. Bright Angel Creek babbled along in its course beside me singing it’s cold fresh song until the trail turned off and began the final assault on the rim up Roaring Springs Canyon.

Bright Angel Creek bubbling downstream in the early morning.

Roaring Springs was pretty amazing. Aptly named, it is really a gushing waterfall straight out of a cave in the cliff face. It provides all of the water for the services in the Grand Canyon on both the North and South Rims though every year rockfall will knock out some of the piping systems forcing needed repairs. This actually just happened recently and some of the North Rim is waterless at the moment.

Roaring Springs crashing out of it’s source cave and down the cliff. I’m thankful for all the water it’s provided me the past few days!

Lush and green and shaded in the morning, the trail was exciting to follow up and watch the vegetation zones slowly change switchback to switchback. I even tried to watch for the changes in rock layers that I learned about in the South Rim exhibits, but I just don’t quite have the eye for that yet.

Switchbacks down, across, and back up the side canyon to the Rim.

Three hours after starting I was standing at the trailhead on the North Rim. It was only 9:30 am, and my permit had me camping a 13 mile road walk away, so I wandered down to the North Rim backcountry ranger office where there was running water, flush toilets, and a place I could recharge my electronics. Since I’m out for a good 8-9 days this stretch I want to make sure they have as much juice as possible.

I ate an early lunch, dried out my tent, and rainfly from last nights condensation, watched some sawyers fell a hazard tree, and chatted with a few of the rangers who went by. The North Rim doesn’t officially open until May 15, so everything is still pretty quiet up here.

About 1:00 I was ready to go and trudged out on the road walk feeling surprisingly sluggish after such a long break. I was back on the Arizona Trail for just a few miles before turning off on some other Park Service roads.

Not too long after starting we passed Harvey’s Meadow where a sign mentioned that Uncle Jim used to stage his mules here before heading into the canyon. It was nice to imagine Brighty grazing in that beautiful green grass.

Harvey’s Meadow where Uncle Jim staged before his canyon excursions. There’s even a natural cave in the hill just out of the photo where he stored gear. Brighty must surely have grazed here.

There’s not much special to say about the road walk. After my excitement to see the forest I was disappointed with its appearance. The forest appears to be pretty heavily managed and frequently put through prescribed burns. Rather than looking healthy though it just kinda looked overdone. Scorched and sad. The roadbed was in pretty rough shape and there was tons of blowdown and a couple of late season snow patches to climb over, too.

One of the nicer sections of the road.

I was surprised at about four when suddenly rain burst out overhead. Not in today’s forecast at all. And heavy enough that I actually pulled out my rain jacket. It was never a downpour and petered out in about twenty minutes, but it was more significant than anything I’ve had on trail since Salt Creek back in Canyonlands.

With the forest not offering the most stunning scenery or views, I was glad when we approached the rim and quickly took a side detour for a look.


A welcome view from the Rim.

While I was sitting and resting on a small slab pillar jutting out into the canyon I looked up and there was a band of bright color forming in the sky.

“RAINBOW!!”, I shouted. Only to remember that I was completely alone.

Rainbow!!!! There’s also a helicopter in this photo- a white dot in the top green band. 

No matter how sluggish or blah a day may be, a rainbow will always pick it up and make it amazing. I sat and watched it brighten and fade away before moving back on with the walk.

Since rainbows are rare things, I thought that this was a hopeful sign that maybe I would see a Kaibab Squirrel too! Native only to the Plateau they are a little larger than a normal squirrel, black bodied with a long bushy white tail and tufted ears. Alas, no luck with that today.
Just past kanabownits spring was a road leading to an old locked cabin (maybe the one that Brighty, Uncle Jim, Harvey, and Jake Irons holed up in during the snow storm?). It made me think that someday I’d love to live in the middle of a stand of ponderosa.

Old Lookout Tower Cabin. I imagined it as the snow storm cabin from Brighty. So much daydreaming!

Imagination aside, the cabin was most likely the residence for the person that staffed the nearby fire lookout tower. I pulled off to investigate that too- climbing all 100 steps up only to find a padlock on the floor hatch. The duff beneath still made a great place to set up camp, and there was even a picnic table to organize my things. It’s cold up here tonight. I’m even wearing my gloves for the first time in I don’t know how long. Thirteen more miles of road walking tomorrow. Hopefully it’s a little nicer than today’s.

Camp amidst the soft duff under the lookout tower.

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