Saturday, October 22, 2011

Grand Canyon

Yesterday was a light on food and heavy on photography. We got a good space in the Grand Canyon visitor parking lot and ate a quick car breakfast (crackers, cheese, local apples, and local water). Then we were off to catch the free shuttle to the western side of the south rim. Our planned destination was a short walk down the Bright Angel Trail.

Lots of hikers coming up from spending the night at the bottom and more hikers going down. We saw one guy running up. Some hikers we met told us about a guy they'd just met who had hiked to the bottom from the north rim and was hiking up to the south rim all in the same day... in spite of the frequent warnings not to hike down and up in the same day.

No, we didn't walk the 7.8 miles to the canyon floor. Although going down would probably have been fine. We need some serious training from Wolfgang, our endurance coach, before we attempt the full walk. It was coming back up that worried us and we had lots more to see before dusk.

This doorway through the rock looks man-made but I think the round window on the left was nature-made.

Note the number of footprints from people who had already been on this path. Ours are somewhere in this mix. This is reminder to pay attention to the shoes you buy, because your footprint could become art.

Back at the top, we caught the red shuttle which stops at multiple lookout points. We got off at Monument Creek Vista and took some photos.

That small tree on the left is growing out of the rock. Life is persistent.

The silence is restful. While we waited for the next shuttle, Dave took a break. Note the cool camera bag Dave is wearing. Thank you Maya!

The end point on the red shuttle is Hermit's Rest. This structure was designed by Mary Colter in 1914 for $13,000. We've been enjoying her architecture in the area. She worked with Fred Harvey as he built hospitality sites at railroad stops throughout the southwest. She concentrated on using local materials to create structures that blended into the surrounding environment.

We decided to walk the part of the rim between Mohave Point and Powell Point. The path there is close to the edge... but not too close. We thought the red structure in the distance looked like an really large amphitheater.

Along our path we saw this glowing plant. Like everything in the Grand Canyon, the right light at the right moment makes it magical.

This rock face has an unusual depth of color and interesting erosion pattern. I think it should be called Fiesta Point.

We took the blue shuttle back to our car and had a car picnic lunch. we made sandwiches with the leftover chicken strips we'd kept cold in our makeshift cooler. Even the lettuce was still crisp. We drank fresh water from the thermos we'd filled at one of many fresh water filling taps around the canyon (they are encouraging visitors to bring refillable bottles instead of discarding one-use plastic bottles). We finished off the meal with a little cranberry nut trail mix. Not bad!

Then we headed east out of the park along Desert View Drive.

At one scenic stop a woman offered to take our picture. The shadows were growing longer in the canyon and our photos were losing their crispness. We were on Grand Canyon overload anyhow. We'd absorbed our maximum concentration of Grand Canyon beauty for one day.

But when we left the park we entered Navajo lands, which surprised us with its own beauty.

The range of colors of soil in these hills was breathtaking--the colors of Native American blankets and pottery.

The sun was beginning to set so I wasn't able to capture many of these painted hillsides with my camera. We are going back that direction today to search out a little more.

We spent Friday night in Flagstaff and have decided to spend another night here.

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