Saturday, July 19, 2014

Grand Canyon

While out west last month, I spent a day at the Grand Canyon. What a beautiful place. On this trip, I hit the North Rim, which is much more remote and much less crowded than the South Rim where 90% of the visitors go. The road to get there takes you though this burned-over area left from a fire a few years ago. At this elevation and with as little moisture as this area gets, recovery will take a while.
Going into the park, I saw Bison.
After a while, I drove on. Now that song about "You can't roller skate in a buffalo herd" was stuck in my head. (Click at your own risk. You were warned.) It was 45 miles from Jacob Lake to the North Rim Lodge, and me being me, I made it in about 35-40 minutes. I love remote two-lane roads with no one else on them.

The North Lodge is a big complex of bookstores, cabins for rent, and housing for concession employees. It's centered around a big log lodge built back in 1926. Here's an inside shot. It has some impressive views if you can afford to eat there.
There'a also a nifty statue of a burro.
And yeah, I patted it's nose. I'm thinking that I wasn't the only one.
Then it was time to start exploring the canyon. The views right outside the lodge were pretty god, although there is a bit of haze in the air from another forest fire burning some distance to the west.
I hiked the short trails here, then, after a momentary work-related distraction that I won't go into here, I drove out to Imperial Point and Cape Royal and spent the rest of the day hiking the trails and taking pictures, usually from vantage points where I was the only one there. It was incredible to virtually have the whole Grand Canyon to myself. Even at the North Rim, it seems that most visitors don't want to walk more than a few dozen yards from their cars. As a consequence, they miss a lot.
No safety rails out here. It's just you and gravity and hopefully, common sense.
The cactuses (cactii?) were in bloom out here, too.
I'll be back here again, and next time I want to hike across the canyon from one rim to the other--a 22-mile hike that descends all the way to the bottom and back up the other side. I didn't go below the rim this time though as I was still fairly fresh off of my five-month lay-up following that pesky leg surgery back in December and I decided not to push it this time. But I will be back, and next time I'll have the fitness and the gear for some serious hiking.

Back out past the bison again.
"Oh, you can't roller skate in a buffalo herd..."


  1. Pictures just don't do it justice......

    1. No, they really don't. It's someplace that just has to be experienced in person.

    2. I've finally got all the pix I took on the Colorado trip organized, and I'll be posting them soon.

      When we headed North out of Fort Collins to Wyoming, we went through large expanses of *nothing*, but it was still breathtaking to see so much open space in one place, if that makes any sense.

      I was somewhat oxygen deprived on top of Pike's Peak, but got the same feeling there.....just SO BIG it defies explanation unless you've been there....

    3. When I went to the top of Pikes Peak, it was surrounded by clouds and we were above them. Saw nothing but white below..

    4. We lucked out, then.

      Clear as a bell, and the guide pointed out that you could see the mountains in New Mexico, and the flat lands of Wyoming, Kansas, and Nebraska.

  2. Had two cousins visit and had to be helicoptered out because they forgot the one thing that's different about hiking a canyon. "First you go DOWN!, don't tire yourself out."

    1. And that's why I didn't go down. I knew that I wasn't up to a serious climb out on that particular day. But next time...

  3. 12 linear miles and 5000 vertical feet if memory serves. Many take one day down and two coming up, and then rest for several days. But I'm also told the bottom rangers run out when their stint is done. I settle for a hundred vertical feet, a shower and a rare steak in the dining room.

  4. Not clicking... nope... Great pics though! :-)

  5. Gorgeous! Even though you can't rollerskate.

  6. Tatanka.

    "No safety rails out here. It's just you and gravity and hopefully, common sense." Just wait until the idiots in San Francisco hear about this.

    I'd say that big empty hole in the ground points to 'global drying'. If the global warming/climate change crowd are correct that the oceans are going to overtake coastal cities, well maybe we could use the GC as a detention reservoir... ;-)

  7. Glad you got to see it! And the bison-tenial.
    If you come back, enjoy the hike - I'm sure-as-hell not able to go with you!


  8. Two times in my life I have walked up to something that left me standing there jaw-droppingly awestruck. In both cases I knew the thing existed but was not prepared for seeing it up close and personal.

    The second, and positive event was the Grand Canyon. Took leave from Ft. Carson and the bride-2-be and I climbed on our little motorcycle, crossed Wolf Creek Pass and didn't stop for more than sleep, food, and gasoline until we pulled into the Grand Canyon Park and pitched the tent. It was getting dark and we were exhausted. I got my first view from the rim at daybreak. I'll never forget it.

    Rode back through the Painted Desert at a doubletime with a hail storm chasing us. Those were the days.

    The first, and negative, time was when I walked up some steps and looked over the Berlin Wall into East Berlin. That was an instant and rude awakening but, ultimately, it did me a world of good.