A half day of travel from Page took us across the higher Colorado Plateau and down into a lower plateau where we crossed the Colorado River at Navajo Bridge (oh yeah, a California Condor was perched below the bridge)
and along the base of the Vermillion Cliffs. Beautiful panoramic vistas of these cliff walls and then an ascent to Jacob Lake and into the Kaibab Plateau and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Slow go uphill, sometimes only 25 mph with our size and weight. What is so different about driving in this area is that you can see exactly where you are headed, the ribbon of road stretching way ahead of you into the distance, unless it is uphill and all you see is the next curving switchback.
North rim campsite is great, dry camping with only 2 hours of generator time in the morning and 2 hours at night. Since we got here at 1:00, we headed out for another hike, which was probably 4 – 5 miles total. The Transept Trail was 1.5 miles along the rim from campground to the Grand Canyon Lodge, then another half-mile out to Bright Angel Point. These overlook points are breathtaking, as you perch at the very edge of the canyon and look out over the eroded layers of sedimentary rock. The elevation here is just over 8,000 feet, so we are higher than we were at Estes Park in the Rocky Mountains. You look south into the canyon and into the sun, so a lot of the canyon walls are in shadow and there is a surprising bit of haze and ozone across the distance. Maybe clearer air tomorrow, although it has been nearly cloudless skies.
Lots of Douglas fir, Ponderosa Pine and spruce trees here, making you think about those perfect Christmas trees with some Aspen just hanging onto their shimmering leaves.
Jackie explained that there is a modern evolutionary example here with two species of squirrel that developed differently once separated by the canyon. So I am on the lookout for the Kaibab squirrel, which has different coloration from the Abert’s squirrel of the South rim. Oh, and there is a herd of bison in the park, but of course we saw none coming in through the meadows and fields. Maybe tomorrow.
Next day in camp we decide to head out to explore a few more trails and vistas along a 14 mile roadway to Cape Royal Trail. The journey was a very winding road that went through spruce, fir, Ponderosa pines, aspen and then to Pinyon pine, sagebrush and cliffrose (which looks a lot like a cedar). We had short hikes out to some treacherous overlooks but gorgeous views all the way down to the Colorado River. Way cool. Tonight we want to stargaze over by the lodge before we pack up and head out to Zion tomorrow.
Thanks for checking in. A note to family: no cell service in the area at all, but wifi at the camp store.