It was on my list for a long time and this year I was able to fit it in: The Grand Canyon.
Not sure what to expect and if it would be as “grand” as predicted.
I would spend one day and night here. Reserved a room at El Tovar well in advance, as I wanted to stay in the park and get the full experience.
The hotel radiates a combination of old cabin meets old chique, knowing it has a rich history. I still cannot imagine people traveling here in the old times, it must have taken ages and should have been quite an adventure.
Took a nice breakfast first: Eggs Benedict – a decent, large portion, full plate of energy and flavors brought to me by friendly staff. Came back the next morning and he remembered me, even knew that I took the Eggs Benedict… I was curious, the Grand Canyon being so remote, it seemed unrealistic that all people working there would commute everyday. They don’t. That’s why there is the village next to it.
Off I went to the Rim trail, with the intention to hike to Hermit’s rest. Of course, I always overestimate my own physical condition. It doesn’t go as smooth as it did 20 years ago. I feel the decreased long capacity as a result of my illness. It’s confrontational. I need to take small steps uphill to get there without losing my breath completely. While fully concentrated moving uphill I hear a group of women behind me with one woman dominating the conversation, actually rather monologue. Damn, she was loud and even more damn, she went up hill at a decent pace, talking loudly without losing her breath! And she probably was older than me too. I was lucky with the weather, sunny with clouds, and a few rain drops, adding a bit of drama to the scene. I am afraid of heights, but felt OK on the path, it was far enough from the edge to feel safe, but still close enough to have a good view. Probably, just the fact that there is a clearly defined, leveled path, tricks my brain into thinking I am safe.
Everywhere signs indicate to not approach or feed the wildlife. What wildlife? I haven’t seen much of them. I saw one Blue Jay on the Rim Trail. Not counting the crows.
Towards Desert View
After coming back by shuttle bus from Hermit’s Rest, I took a little rest myself before heading towards Desert View for sunset. Some very nice views along the way with Lipan Point being one of my favorites. As the sun goes down, the mountains further away become more grayed out. Nice.
At Desert View, I found a nice spot to wait for the sunset, a bit further down left of the tower. There were some clouds blocking the sun, but I was still hopeful. Meanwhile, there was enough animation: 2 guys (obviously…) were trying to take cool pictures, by standing very close to the edge. I couldn’t watch it, being sure that the next thing I would hear would be a fading scream of someone falling down the edge. What people would do for a picture. Two stops back, the same scene, and I guess even worse. One laying on his belly with his head over the edge of a very deep drop. It made a nice picture for me, but I still don’t understand why you would take such a risk. In fact, there was a notice of a young woman gone missing in the park a few days back. Most probably fell down somewhere. The strange thing is that a picture was shown of her at the grand canyon and the text stated “She was wearing the same cloths as per the picture”. So, how did they get this picture? was the camera dropped? did her friends leave her? Guess we will never know.
Going back to the sunset: a bit underwhelmed, the clouds blocked the rays of the sun and the hue was far away from anything orange or pink.
Mather Point Sunrise
This would be one of the nice spots to look at the sunrise. But … I was not alone, a whole bus load of Asian tourists got dropped off at the same time I arrived. I was impressed by the equipment some came by, trollies, setting up their tripods, expensive camera’s, filters and remote controls.
Again I guess it is the time of the year, the color scheme was quite bland. I got up at 4:30 and stood in the freezing cold for more than an hour for this? Guess it is part of the experience.
I walked (you can’t call it a hike) back to the hotel over the Rim Trail. Nice walk. Almost completely for me alone, except for a herd of deer making there way through the trees searching for breakfast. They are so well camouflaged, it is quite difficult to take decent pictures. By this time, the freezing cold has drained my battery, even more difficult to take a decent and clear picture with only my mobile.
Bright Angel Trail
At one point of this walk, you can see a winding path hanging on to the steep walls of the canyon. When I posted this picture on Facebook, I got immediate reaction from my dearest family: “you didn’t do this one, right???”. Had I mentioned I was traveling solo? No, I didn’t and was not intending too. Maybe 20 years ago I would have…
All in all, a very nice experience, and contemplating to take my family here one day as part of an American road trip.