on September 11, 2007
We’d crawled out of bed at 4am to catch the sunrise, mounted mules at 8:30, driven Cape Royal Road to Roosevelt Point, Angel’s Window, and Cape Royal itself. Sure, it’d been a full day already, but I’d waited years to come to the Grand Canyon. Rest? Are you kidding?Everyone else took some downtime before dinner. I headed back down to the Lodge, where the Transept Trail starts below the veranda, along the west side of Bright Angel Point. You can either descend the steps from the Lodge, or veer off to the left as you return from the the tip of Bright Angel Point. From here, the Transept runs just over a mile and a half to the campground store, and is is in good shape throughout.This route gives you a good feeling for the Grand Canyon’s many side canyons. From the Lodge, the trail heads northwest, over and around a surprising number of ridges on its way to the Transepts's edge. This section is completely in the forest of pine and aspens, and the entire trail never quite makes it out in the open: the trees run nearly to the rim itself for the whole mile on the canyonside. It was partly cloudy as I headed out, and became even cloudier during the first half of my hike. For a while, I thought I might get to see the Canyon in the rain, but the skies eventually lightened and the sunshine returned.The trail opens to the Canyon at irregular distances, with short spurs of 10 yards or so taking you right to the rim. There is no railing or warning at these spots, and the drop is often nearly vertical, so it pays to be careful.The view here is terrific, and those with more courage than me might sit with their feet dangling over the edge. The Transept is fairly narrow and very deep, and you look straight across at the other wall, which seems only 100 yards away. To the north, you can easily see the end of this side canyon. The trail stops at least a half-mile before that, although the Widforss Trail runs along the north edge, a full dayhike past the Transept to Widforss Point.After a mile or so, you begin to see the campsites off to the east, and I mistakenly hiked in here thinking I was finishing the trail. Back on the path, the sun was out again, lighting up the Canyon to the south, with the clouds occasionally casting contrasting shadows on the reddish temples. Hiking alone, I generally stayed away from the last foot before the rim, but carefully sat down and edged close enough once or twice to look down into the Transept and back to the Canyon.After passing the campsites, the trail curls around to the back of the North Rim store where I met up with my family. We headed back to the cabin to get ready for dinner at the Lodge, and our departure the next morning.
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