Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Day 7-8: Grand Canyon NP (#5)

Day 7: Springdale to Grand Canyon NP (#5)

Forget all the bars and schmoozing and everybody checking out everybody else. My ideal date would be to park in a dark place, check out the stars, and have a great conversation. When all else fails, you can just make out.
Brooke Burke

Pics Days 7: Leaving Zion and pics while awaiting traffic control clearance, a light standard in Kanab, hiking shots, DB and THB near sunset at Angels Window (the lookout is on top of a cut out in the rock – see other long shot of this window), the crowds at the viewing spot getting ready for the big moment

Pics: Day 8: All in GC; sunrise at the lodge parking lot, sunrise crowd, utility box and predecessor, THB and DB at Bright Angel Point (a weak imitation of Angels Landing since there are plenty of rails). DB posing with Brighty the mule (a DB fave from a childhood book), one last utility box

Leaving the Desert Pearl, we pack at a leisurely pace; we are gaining an hour after leaving Utah. Breakfast in the room, free (with melon from farmers market), and then on out the east entrance (retracing the drive we did two days ago). It’s only around 125-140 miles to the Grand Canyon, so we stop at Pine Spring National Monument (another stamp in the passport) and take the short walk out back of the visitor center (where they are offering up free veggies and melon tastes from the on-site garden). You gain about 130 feet in altitude and then have a giant 270 degree vista. Clear and hot, around 80, and after we do the walk we picnic on the front lawn of the visitor center, where there is shade; leftover chicken sandwiches.

Drive into the Grand Canyon. We’re staying at the GC Lodge, basically the only spot on the north rim that isn’t a campground. Dinner is either at 5:15 or 8:45. We have a rather eclectic room: we are in 117/123. After realizing I have one key, I go back to registration and ask which room we’re in…both! When we get to the room, the key does not work in the 123 lock. Go around to the other side, the key works in 117. In we go: there are two rooms separated by a very small bathroom. These used to be two cabins (and outhouses?) and are now combined. 117 has a queen size bed and little room for much else. 123 has bunk beds and a sofa that must turn into a bed. There is also a desk, though no electrical outlet so there is you have to move the desk and bench out into the room in order to run the computer on live electricity. Quirky, and yet fitting (once we find the cabin, since the numbering scheme is rather eclectic as well).

Rather than eat too early or too late, we decide to combine a 4 mile hike with seeing sunset at a picturesque spot. We pick up sandwiches at the deli: turkey and cheese, and tuna (of course), $15, and after the hike picnic at the sunset viewing spot, complete with wine imported from E-ville.

Here’s THB’s take on the GC: it is really really big, so while it is Grand, really grand, it isn’t as interesting as Zion, where you get closer to the diverse rock formations (in some cases, too close).

Total driving for the day: 210 miles

Back in the room, exhausted, and THB is asleep in under 1 minute (DB says faster, how can you be faster than under a minute?).

Day 8: Grand Canyon NP

All I need to make a comedy is a park, a policeman and a pretty girl.
Charlie Chaplin

Up very early (early for DB; this is THB’s normal) at 5:15am to get up and out for a sunrise viewing. Note in the picture of the sunrise crowd that there are lot fewer people here than for the sunset.

Breakfast in the lodge: pancakes and coffee, $18.

We’re not sure how the day will go, so we decide to do the loop hike from the lodge, which turns out to be over 4 miles, maybe 5. Lot of easy walking with views early on, then we head down a few 100 feet of the North Kaibab Trail that leads to the Canyon floor (15 miles away on the trail), then retrace our steps out to a point past the lodge (see our picture). This last part is not easy for DB as the heights are severe; fortunately there are rails and big rocks. Some Aussies take our picture, one of whom was in the Athens Olympics, rowing (the guy weighed 120 pounds, he was the coxswain). We know that because I am wearing my Athens 2004 t-shirt (one of the two summer Olympics I missed in the last 26 years) and he asks if I was there in Athens (and maybe even saw his races).

We decide to do lunch on the deck of the lodge, so pulled chicken on ciabatta and pot roast hoagie sandwiches (both very good) from the deli and beers from our cooler, $15 and a tremendous view!

In the afternoon, we decide to take a break from hiking: DB reads and THB goes to General Store and sends off the one week update/quiz, then returns and reads (sometimes with his eyes closed).

Dinner at 5:15, which works out quite well, as the sunset is changing the colors of the canyon walls while we have salad with chicken (DB) and salad followed by roasted chicken and baked potato (THB), wine, and bread pudding a la mode (terrific!!!). Total $95. We see the couple we talked to at the Whiptail in Springdale, they are on the same NP schedule we are these last few days (they were also at the Desert Pearl, we agreed this one great inn). We head over after dinner to tell them how good the bread pudding was, they had it for dessert the night before! After dinner, we see their room, much more traditional and in a great spot on the property for sunrise/sunset viewing off the porch. They gift us two wine glasses, they bought four and only need two.

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