Our concluding days in the canyon were some of the most relaxing we've ever had. It was a short, mostly flat 7 mile hike from Cottonwood camp to Bright Angel.

Right away we had to ford Wall Creek again, but this time we just went barefoot with good results. Dry socks and boots. We saw a lot of trail runners this day. They mostly just ran right through the creek.

We finally got close enough to a Yellow-backed spiny lizard for a good shot. Biggest lizard we saw in the canyon and we saw quite a few.

There was apparently an endurance race going on in Arizona that had several hikers schlepping bikes on their backs through the canyon, rim to rim. Oh my.

More geology! What you see above is an example of boudinage: sausage link shaped infiltration of Zoroaster granite into the Vishnu schist.

Back at Phantom Ranch we enjoyed two fun ranger programs (one on the California Condor, one on search and rescue) and a tasty veggie chili dinner with great company.

Julie mailed a postcard to our nephew using the mule post inside Phantom Ranch.

We departed very early on Friday morning to make the long climb out of the canyon via Bright Angel trail.

The water was flowing strongly through Indian Garden, an oasis on the south side with lush trees, blooming wildflowers, and plenty of shade and water.

Above is a view from above the Indian Garden area.

We hauled ass climbing out, even passing a group of trail runners three times (they ultimately beat us to the top) as we maintained a steady but fast pace. Things got a lot more crowded on the second half. We overtook a mule train climbing out that was apparently a training run for some out-of-shape mules needing to get into spring condition.

We escaped the canyon at about 11am, walking the extra 1/4 mile or so to the Backcountry office parking lot where we left our car.

We were very happy with the itinerary. Bracketing the big Wednesday hike with two virtual rest days (just seven miles flat) helped manage the pain of the big up-and-down day. Hanging around Phantom Ranch was better than expected, especially when the ranger programs were running.

If you want to experience the same hiking but aren't into the backpacking elements, you can try for lodging at the Ranch and minimize the need to haul as much gear around. I wouldn't advise a hike from the Ranch all the way to north rim unless you are staying in the lodge up there to break the trip up.