Sunday, July 15: Grand Canyon
A fabulous day!
Around 7am, Amy got up and found the sky clear and sunny. So we got Mike up, and zoomed off to the tower again. We then returned towards the village taking pictures at each stop. I felt rather rushed, as we were racing the rising sun and racing some clouds that were forming.
I opted not to get gas at the tower, which was a mistake. We decided to continue past the village to Hermit’s Rest at the west end, get breakfast/lunch there, and then go out of the park to get gas. It was going to be real tight. I was very worried, but Amy was more confident.
We stopped just after the village near where the condors are. We got some really good close views as they flew overhead before heading off to more distant parts.
We eventually got to Hermit’s Rest. The “range indicator” on the car had gone from about 40 miles to just “low”. That made me even more nervous. We found that there was really not much food at Hermit’s. We got a sandwich and soda each, although the sandwiches were just bread, meat, and cheese, and were prefabbed.
Afterwards we very gingerly drove out of the park and finally got gas. I started breathing again. Mike wanted some down time when we returned to the hotel room, while Amy and I searched again for Amy’s cell phone. After looking through everything twice or more, Amy found it in the bag that I had looked through at least three times! That was a relief.
This was probably our best (and our last) day at Grand Canyon south.
After spending the middle of the day back at the hotel, we returned to the park. We stopped by the visitor’s center parking lot, and then walked over to Mather Point. This is usually the first place people view the canyon from, so of course in our case it was about the last.
As we were leaving, we stumbled across a “critter chat” by a park ranger that was just starting, so we stayed for that. Afterwards, as part of the Junior Ranger program, Michael spent a while picking up litter.
Then we drove to the parking lot of the El Tavar Hotel. It was the first in a series of resorts along the rim. Our plan was to hike the upper portion of the Bright Angel trail. But we got there around 4 to 4:30, and the evening light was just beginning to do wonderful things to the canyon (as well as a distant thunderstorm).
Michael didn’t want to do the “hike” so we left him to amuse himself among the shops and resorts. Amy and I meandered to the Bright Angel trail head, taking pictures and visiting studios. By the time we got to the trail head, the wind was picking up, and the weather was getting interesting. But we didn’t see any storms heading towards us.
We started down the trail. Amy wanted to go as far as a “tunnel” through a rocky outcropping, which actually was not that far down at all. The sun came out as we descended, which made the photography even better. We actually went down a bit further, but not quite as far as the start of the switch-backs.
About the time we thought we should be turning back, we felt the first drops fall. It was definitely time to head back! I hoped to get up to the tunnel and then dig out our rain gear, but the rain got heavier, so I dropped my pack on the side of the road and got out our gear.
It was strange because it was raining on us, but we were also in the sun! It is strange to have both at the same time. We didn’t see a rainbow, however.
The rain was short-lived, and it was over by the time we got back up to the rim. We meandered back to Michael, taking advantage of the ever increasing beauty of the canyon.
We caught up with Michael, checked out the Hopi House (another wonderful bit of architecture that looked Pueblo), then checked out El Tavar. We wanted to eat there, but without reservations the first opening was at 9:30! So we went back to the Bright Angel room, where we had eaten then previous day. Unfortunately this time, we had to wait a while for a table.
We were all very hungry at this point. I had eaten a rather mediocre sandwich and a couple of handfuls of granola. Mike had a bit more, and Amy a bit less. So the wait for dinner seemed interminable. On the other hand, by the time our table was ready, I had taken my last possible photograph (unless I wanted to delete some).
We finished dinner around 8:15, which would have been wonderful timing for the 8:30 “campfire” program, if we hadn’t been so tired. Walking back to the car, we had lightning ahead of us, behind us, and across the canyon from us.
On the drive out, we found a traffic snarl that was caused by an elk on the side of the road eating a tree. I’m guessing that it was the same elk we had seen in about the same area the previous night. We didn’t bother stopping for photos. A bit further on, we caught another slow down caused by some other elk crossing the road.
We really lucked out on the weather, both all day long, and at the end. Driving back, we caught a heavy shower, but by the time we got to the hotel it had stopped, so we didn’t have to dodge raindrops to get in.
I was surprised that I could wear my sneakers today and not be bothered by my blisters. Likewise Amy was walking better. She did not use a walking stick (trekking pole) today, and she was game for a short “hike” down Bright Angel.