From the Grand Canyon
Trip Start Apr 28, 2009
37Trip End Jul 03, 2009
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Tuesday, May 26th
Seems like a lot of time has gone by - actually 3 days I think. Let me start back where I left off, in Zion..... we left the dogs at the Doggy Dude Ranch for the day - they had a great time - wonderful people, big dogs all in together, a swimming pool of sorts. lots of play, and a big fenced area so they could play ball and chase sticks all day. They were exhausted.
We pretty easily found a place to park, chatted at some length with a nice gay couple who split their time between Maine and there (saw our Vermont plates, told us Springdale, the town just outside the park, is an oasis of liberal thought in the midst of conservative Utah), and got on the shuttle early. Decided to tackle Angel's Landing, a very steep, precipitous and popular trail that Tom had gotten Amy up on when she was pregnant with Cole (I think it was Cole....) We joined the throngs headed in that direction. Trail was all graded and mostly even cement paved way up in. They have to do that due to the crowds, I'm sure, or it would be eroded away. Up and up and up the canyon wall in switchbacks - hot, occasional shade from the overhanging rock. Playing hopscotch with the same people en route, which was fun. There is a place called Scout Lookout about 3/4 of the way up (we'd been hiking about 2 hours) before you hit the REALLY steep, REALLY SHEER cliffs to the top. There are chains to hold onto as you go up, which makes it somewhat tolerably safe (safe is a REALLY relative word here...) - anyhow, Scout Lookout, you just had to laugh. HUNDREDS of people. Well, a hundred anyhow, and the rest of the trail (which you could see) an anthill. People passing and backed up and all over it. We had lunch, and decided to go for it, but after about 5 minutes in a crowd on the side of a cliff, no thanks, I sat down and waited while John went up ahead a bit, but he came back (he was being really kind to me - if I was the one who wanted to go for it I might just have gone on...) A lot of people backed off soon after Scout Lookout, but a LOT kept going. The nurse in me just couldn't bear it. So not safe, in my book, with that amount of crowd. Anyhow, a nice hike back down, and then took the shuttle up to the end of the canyon and walked a mile up to the narrows - the cliffs narrow down to where it is just the river and sheer cliffs on either side, no banks. People love to walk up them, but due to recent rain, the "trail" up them was closed (we weren't planning on that anyhow...) We rewarded our long hike and sensible decision making with ice cream cones. We wouldn't recommend Zion on Memorial Day weekend, but it was OK considering. Still gorgoeous views - those don't change!
Nice German neighbors that night at the campground, and off the next morning towards the Grand Canyon - back up through the tunnnel, then went through some beautiful country driving southeast along the Kaibab Plateau (to where the road to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon goes off), had a nice dog-walk down a forest service road, and then on down through what are called the Vermillion Cliffs (really lovely) to the Colorado River (again!) Crossed the bridge (at Lee's Ferry) then got out and walked back over to view the river. Very green there. Deep in, calm. Bought some stuff from the Native Americans selling their wares at booths along the parking lot.
Came into the South Rim of the Grand Canyon from the east at around 7 - stopping at various viewpoints to get a first look. Found our campsite, had dinner, and went to bed early
This morning, up at 5:30 (we discovered on arrival here that all of Arizona except the reservations does NOT go on daylight time, so though in the Rocky Mountain time zone, they are on the same time as the west coast.) Just took right off for the rim - too late for sunrise proper, but nice just-after-sunrise color, quite a few early birds up, dogs good as gold walked with us (they are allowed to walk with us above the rim.) After breakfast (in the camper, in the parking lot!) we took the dogs to the kennel - a real come down after the Doggy Dude Ranch - just basically an oversized crate with tiny outside area and a water dish. They did OK though. The woman there was nice enough, and it was clean.
Spent the day alternating walking the long rim trail and taking the shuttle buses (no dogs) between viewpoints. Walked for several miles in all. Much of the time walking and stopping to gawk we were all alone. Amazing after the crowds of the weekend. Lots of informational signboards etc on the geology, history etc. An old mine, the old Hermit's Rest, where early travelers were taken for refreshment, many of the old buildings designed by the same woman (Mary Colter, I think her name was) - went in the two old hotels (the Bright Angel and the El Tovar), two old studios right on the edge, a Hopi pueblo-type building they sell Native American crafts in, etc. Picked up the dogs, and went out to the rim in the other direction (east - we had been west all day) and walked along with them, lovely light against a dark sky on the other side of the canyon. Picked up some groceries and an extra day-pack (only brought one with us, for some reason) for our hike tomorrow. We are going down in on the South Kaibab trail, to a place called Cedar Point. Only about a 3 hour round trip, but a lot of down and up. Hope to get an early start, dogs off to the kennel again, but we will pick them up by mid-afternoon.
Another 10,000 pictures or so...... quite a lot of Mennonites (maybe) - women in homemade prairie-type dresses, white caps over their hair and tied under their chins, lots of kids (girls in dresses like their moms), men in hats with beards but no moustaches - very friendly - and LOTS of people speaking every language imaginable. At this time of year, there are more people from outside the US than in. Fascinating. Lots of interesting short conversations with people en route from one place to another.
Had a nice chat with Phil Mason, who is staying at the house, called just to check in. Hard to believe it is just approaching half over, this long-planned trip of ours. We are still loving it, and we are looking forward to some visiting with friends and family starting with Les (Wardwell, longtime DHMC friend) and family in Phoenix Friday night.
Unsure when I will get this off. After we are back from the hike, perhaps.....
Tuesday, May 27th
Just back up from a great hike down in - not all the way down (you can't go down all the way to the river and back up in a day unless you are a he-man, and even he-men are advised against it - we did go all the way to the river 25 years ago, and camped down in) - but a few miles down in on the South Kaibab Trail to Cedar Ridge. Met various nice people walking down and up - talked with a guide (20's) who would be in Zach's circle (ie same kinda girl!) - a woman from Serbia who's son and daughter-in-law live in Hanover and the d-in-law works at DHMC (Vanessa - pharmacy - Tatiana?) - she and her childhood friend were traveling together (both had been gymnasts when they were young - they were doing handstands in the canyon!) and a group of college kids from Lafayette College in PA, one of whom knows neighbors of ours, and a really nice guy, a photographer, who we walked and chatted with at length. All this DOWN IN. Down in is very cool. Well, not temperature-wise (it was probably mid-80's) but very cool in terms of views, the sense of grandeur, the getting away from the crowds (yes there were quite a few people on the trail, but few enough that you were often on your own, and just enough to enjoy the interactions - nothing like Angel's Landing at Zion!) The dogs did great with the second kennel day, we just picked them up and next on the agenda is showers followed by early supper out and sunset walk on the rim. Tomorrow we move on down towards Sedona (SE of Flagstaff) which we have heard great things about.
Not sure if you'll get pix yet - computer getting low on power and no power in the plans for 2 days.... we'll see how it goes!
PS for my brothers - do you remember on our 1962 trip in the train, we took a side train to the Grand Canyon, very briefly? They still have that train! I had forgotten but seeing the train brought it all back! (Johnny, you were in Hong Kong, so this wouldn't be on your radar....)