Posts Tagged With: Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon, South

Leaving Vegas and Lake Meade on Friday we continued across the Mohave Desert and even met up with historic Route 66. One thing you become aware of while driving this area of the country is the elevation changes. You go from 1,500 feet to 4,000 to 6,000 and then back down again. We searched out a National Forest spot called Kaibab Lake just north of Williams at the entrance road to Grand Canyon and camped for the night – ten bucks, but dry camping.

Kaibab Lake N.F.

Kaibab Lake N.F.

We now are in a pattern of showers and thunderstorms. We had overnight rain in Las Vegas, had rain at Kaibab Lake and now as we drive the 40 miles into Grand Canyon it is raining (Saturday).   Not too bad, though, since we just settled in at night and read a book — even started playing Gin Rummy.  (BTW, finished Steve Berry’s Lincoln Myth and starting on Tom Clancy aka Grant Blackwood’s Under Fire).

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Since we got to the park too early to check-in to camp, we parked and did the Visitor’s Center and rim walk. But the off-and-on rain and clouds actually made for some cool shots into the canyon. We took the shuttle bus along to Bright Angel Lodge and the historic village area along the rim, checking out the views, lodges and gift shops. One minute it was a mostly clear view of the canyon, next you would see the mist rising up the canyon wall and you were fogged in. Pretty neat.

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Once we got set up in camp, we took the bikes down and rode the greenway trail back to the rim trail.  My son Dave was right, there is a lot of biking you can do along the rim and in the campground.  There is a section you can ride that goes east to the South Kaibab Trailhead, so we wanted to try that. Halfway there we passed some female elk right on the side of the trail, munching on branches. Eerie, since they surprised us and were like 3 feet away. Rain started up and what was heading our way didn’t look good, so we pedaled back to camp. Bit wet, aborted ride, but fun.

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The sun and clouds kept changing the view.

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Since rain was predicted for the next two days and we wanted to do part of Bright Angel Trail, we made an early start of it next day (that would be … Sunday). We got the best part of the day for the hike. Our objective was the mile and a half rest shelter on the trail. Change in elevation was over 1,100 feet and keep in mind the way the park service measures distance (always further than published).  Not as much as Angel’s Landing, but we were game, so down we went.

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You could see what we figured was the rest shelter building way down below us, yet we kept on. Amazing vistas and ever-changing colors. Just about the time Jackie wisely said “you know, we still have to go back up” I pushed to go around one more bend. What do you know? There was the mile and a half spot! So we sat in a shelter, had something to drink and eat and chatted with some of the other hikers. Turns out the building we saw below us was the three mile house. Don’t plan to be visiting that one.

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Waaaay down on the point is what we thought was the mile and a half rest shelter.

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One of two tunnels on the trail.

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The actual mile and a half rest shelter.

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Snacks with new friends and a view.

Bright Angel Doug

1, 2, 3, jump?

Bright Angel

Selfies are not that easy…

So, yes, we did make it back up to the rim. Took it slow and steady, several breathers for water and energy. As a reward, we had lunch in the Arizona Room of the Bright Angel Lodge. One last task before ending the day: take the shuttle out to the viewpoints along the rim to Hermit’s Rest. Really are some great views, even though the clouds kept it from being as bright and colorful as we expected. Pretty good rainshower on the way back to camp, but it stopped by the time we got home. Benji and Merlin were glad to see us and I hit the shower to clean off and warm up. We both feel pretty good to have done the Bright Angel Trail (FYI – phone and fitbit clocked it closer to 5 miles).

Tomorrow we are off to Flagstaff and the Petrified Forest.

Thanks for checking in.

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Grand, Grand Canyon

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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)

California Condor on Navajo Bridge

California Condor on Navajo 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.

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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.

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Brave soul

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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.

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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.

Abert's squirrel

Abert’s squirrel

Kaibob squirrel

Kaibob squirrel

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.

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Thanks for checking in. A note to family: no cell service in the area at all, but wifi at the camp store.

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