Susan's Blog - Grand Canyon Day 2

This is our only "full" day at the Canyon, and we decided to take a morning "stroll" down the Bright Angel trail. The trail starts near our hotel and descends 4380 feet down to the Colorado River. And no, we didn't go all the way to the river .. only about 3 miles down and then back. It has an average grade of 10% along its entire length and they really say not to go down and back in the same day as you need to assume twice the time going up as going down. Once you get down to the river, it hooks up to the River Trail which goes another 2 miles or so to the Bright Angel Campground and Phantom Ranch. One thing that a set of people do is start at the North Rim (I guess you could start at the South Rim), hike down and stay overnight at the Campground or Phantom Ranch. Then the next day, you hike up the other side. As we were heading down, we met up with people who had done just that, starting at the North Rim and they were making their way "up" the South Rim.

For our hike, we started at the trail head at 6,860 feet and went down to close to the 3 mile resthouse (actually 3.1 miles) to 4,748 feet .. then we had to come back up :-( We have a few pictures of us (mostly at the start, not at the end!!) and then lots and lots of pictures (also mostly on the way down and not on the way up!)

So right in the middle of this next picture, you'll see a little rocky outcrop ... you can use that as a reference point for our descent, since I took pictures of that same rocky outcropping as we went down and you'll see how it is quite a ways below us in this picture .. and you'll eventually see it almost even with us and then it will be above us.

Okay, yea, I probably could have skipped this picture, but it gave me the opportunity to include that the trail is used by the mules transporting people and gear to and from the bottom of the canyon. Although these mules are highly trained, the trail is narrow in some places, and care must be given to give mules the right of way.

I grabbed a few pictures of some flowers that I thought were pretty. I'm always amazed at how nature will "find a way" .. even in the harshest, rockiest, worst locations, nature seems to find a way (we see trees and blushes clinging to the side of a mountain cliff!).

A view of the kind of path we were walking on, and some amount of the slope. The person you see is one of those that stayed overnight at the bottom and were hiking up the South Rim.

HA! I tried the flash to try to get light on Tom's face (since the prior picture was really dark) and it now looks like he is standing in front of a picture of the canyon instead of the actual canyon!

We only saw a few "critters" on the way down .. this little squirrel and a chipmunk (later) .. there were lots of signs to tell people NOT to feel or try to pet the squirrels, although I'm sure they would let you. They carry (supposedly) fleas which carry the bubonic plague.

For me, one of the amazing things is just the different colored striations in the rock, which are actually different types of rock deposited in different periods of time. In addition, the very steep cliffs also are mind-boggling for those of us living on the flat East coast.

Okay, so we're back up to the top, and we stopped at one of the buildings with a gift shop. In one of the rooms, was this original 35mm carbon-arc Powers Peerless Projector. It was used by the Kolb brothers from 1915 until the early 1960's to show their 1911 movie "Through the Grand Canyon from Wyoming to Mexico".

We headed over to another section of the South Rim, called Yaki Point, for one of the Ranger programs about Raptors. It gives another view of the Canyon although still on the South Rim. On the shuttle bus over there, I grabbed a quick (blurry) picture of a mule deer which is indigenous to western North America and is named for it's large mule-like ears.

We then hurried over to Yavapai Point and the Geology Museum for a geology Park Ranger talk (the ranger was a former Geology teacher). It was a 30 minute history lesson of how the Grand Canyon formed and a few different theories on a couple points. He talked about how geologists were like "CSI agents" (crime scene investigators) since they both are looking for clues to determine what had occurred in the past.

Here you can see a little bit of the Colorado River with a suspension bridge going over.

Inside the Yavapai Geology Museum there is a model of the Canyon, or at least, a section of it.

Then we walked a bit down the rim ...

Then we caught another shuttle bus, this time all the way to the end (Hermits Rest). Now .. you won't see many pictures of the canyon from Hermits Rest because I was too busy taking pictures of the family of Elk who had decided to hang out in the middle of the road, and the another one who decided that they were a bit thirsty and were looking for a place to get some water. Lucky for them, there is a fountain at Hermits Rest (where people can fill their water bottles) and they realized that if they stood there and smiled, people would actually come over and turn on the water for them!

We figured out that the view wasn't all that great here and so we caught the shuttle to Pima Point. Here we stayed and watched the sunset. Again ... lots of varied pictures as the sun went down and the shadows become longer along the canyon walls. We were able to grab a few where you can clearly see the Colorado River down at the bottom.

Okay, yea, just really cool looking shadows on the side of the canyon walls.