Well, I did it! I made it to the bottom of the Grand Canyon on the back of a mule. Yes, I rode a mule down to Phantom Ranch, along with Wynn and a good friend of ours, Jake. My mule was called "Sassy", Wynn's was called "Able" and Jake's was called "Charlotte".
We rode the Bright Angel trail on the way down. It is 5 1/2 miles long and took us about 5 1/2 hours to do. We stopped at a place called "Indian Gardens" on the way down and were given a simple box lunch. There were also several other stops to quickly dismount and either go to the bathroom or just stretch our legs; but not for very long. Our trail guides, Mattie and Alison kept us moving.
The scenery was just as you would imagine, fantastic. It was a little scary for people who were afraid of heights; but I loved it. To add to my excitement, Sassy liked to walk on the outer edge of the trail. We didn't take pictures on the way down as they told us there would be lots of opportunities when we travelled back up, the next day. The reason we were given was that the mules would be needing to stop and catch their breath a lot. The mules are very well trained and fit but it is quite a workout, nonetheless.
When we reached the bottom of the canyon, we had to cross the Colorado river. We went through a tunnel first and then across the bridge. On the other side we rode another 10 minutes to Phantom Ranch.
We stayed in a cozy, little cabin, complete with a bathroom.
We arrived about 2:30 p.m. and were told to walk a lot, enjoy the scenery, etc. They did not want us to be stiff the next morning. We were all a little saddle sore, to be sure. But Wynn and I did walk, when we got our land legs back. LOL!! This was one of the walking trails at Phantom Ranch. It follows the River that runs into the Colorado River.
In the evening, we were fed a steak dinner complete with all the trimmings and chocolate cake. Breakfast the next morning was at 7:00 a.m., and we had the works, bacon and eggs, sausage, toast, waffles, orange juice, coffee, etc.
We were saddled up and ready to go at 8:00 a.m. on the journey back up, this time following the Kaibob trail. This trail is 7 1/2 miles long and it takes 5 1/2 hours with the many stops for the mules, no lunch this time. Each stop gave us plenty of opportunity to take pictures. Here are a few for you to enjoy. You will see the Colrado river and some of the trails that we travelled.
Our trail guide, Alyson, leading the pack of 7.
At the end is Mattie, our other trail guide. I am behind Alyson and Wynn (with just his nose showing, LOL) was behind me; then, our friend, Jake.
On our way back up to the top, we saw a pack of mules taking supplies down to Phantom Ranch. Everything that the ranch needs is taken in by mules and all garbage, recycling, etc, is brought back out by mules. Take a look at the dust and you can just imagine how fast they were travelling. We just couldn't believe how those mules could stay on the trail at that speed; but they do. Everyday, there make a trip down and a trip back up. Trust me, our mules did not do anything but walk. Thank goodness!
This was just the grandest ride ever, the benefit being that you get to see the Grand Canyon from a very unique perpective - astride a mule! We are now official members of the renowned "Order of the Master Mule Skinners of the Grand Canyon Trails".