Sunday, October 29, 2017
We left Page, Arizona in the morning and headed for the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. As we approached the area I noticed smoke. Why does it have to be smoke?
The Park was in the process of a prescribed/controlled burn in the North Rim area. Of course they were.
We entered the park and to our delight saw a skunk, a live one mind you, cross the road ahead of us! Finally we could take skunks off our “dead animals we’d seen” list and move them to the live list. Yay!
Not to be detered by the smoke, we drove on into the park. Along the way Alan saw a (dead) Kaibab Squirrel on the side of the road. He mentioned it to me afterwards. Kaibabs are a cousin of the Abert Squirrel, but they are almost black in color with more white plumage on their tails.
After we arrived at the Visitor Center at the end of the road, we hiked Bright Angel Point Trail, which was a little nerve-wracking at a few points, to see what we could see of the canyon.
Despite the haze of the smoke it was pretty impressive – I just wished my photos could have captured it better.
While at the Visitor Center I noticed a table laid out with animal skulls. One of the park Rangers came over to see what I could identify. I did an okay job for all but the cougar and a fox skull. I correctly identified a condor skull and she said I was the only one so far to do that. We then got into a discussion about where we might be able to see some condors. She told us that the best place right now to view condors would be at Lees Ferry, which we would be passing on our way to our campsite. We had passed it on the way to the park and almost stopped, but decided to go to the park first.
As we left the park Alan pointed out the Kaibab Squirrel he’d seen and we slowed a bit to confirm its identity. Then, not more than 100 feet further up the road, one of the buggers ran across the road in front of us. Bingo! We could add this one to our Live list.
We stopped at Lees Ferry and walked across the foot bridge but did not see any condors. After asking inside the information center we were told told the condors had been there in the morning. Nuts.
We set up camp just outside of Flagstaff and I cooked up some chicken soup for dinner. When we had settled in we began to notice how windy it had gotten and worked on securing the tent down with stakes and guy lines.
Monday, October 30, 2017
We got an early start, stopping at McDonald’s for a quick breakfast first. This day we headed to the South Rim via the South Entrance Road.
We parked in the main visitor parking lots and after talking to a ranger about condors, we’re told that the birds were following hunters, cleaning up behind their kills, so they would most likely not be seen.
Using the Blue Line Shuttle we took it to the Red Line to continued the path west. We got off at every stop along the way to take pictures. The fires from the North Rim created a slight haze, but we could still see the breadth of the canyon clearly.
There are no words to describe the depth and width of the Grand Canyon. It has inspired poets, artists and lovers of nature for decades, and rightly so. The colors vary with the position of the sun and the appearance of clouds. Sunrise and sunset make for even more color variations. The canyon is something that one must see with one’s own eyes and heart to understand.
We finally arrived at Hermit’s Rest, the end of the line. With photos taken we headed to the Visitor Center back along the route we’d come on.
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Woke up and as I was getting gear into the truck I saw an Abert Squirrel in the campground. I called to Alan and carefully retrieved my camera from the truck. I was able to get a few shots of it before it ran off.
Grand Canyon via the east Desert entrance was our destination for the day. This part of the park does not have shuttle service so we got to selectively stop at whichever sites we were interested in and stay as long as we liked. Our first stop was the Viewing Tower, a beautifully crafted, multi-level building with Native American symbols painted on the interior walls. The view of the canyon from the tower was fantastic.
While at the tower and its overlook we watched ravens play in the thermals. They are such acrobats, it was hard to keep up with them.
We continued on the road westward, stopping at every pull-off, and we stopped at the Yavapai Museum for sandwiches out of the back if the truck. One of the last stops we made was at the Geology Museum, which had all kinds of fascinating facts and history about the canyon.
We drove back out eastward, stopping a Lipen Point to wait for, and photograph sunset on the canyon. It got cold, and so did I, but it was worth it.