Grand Canyon Revisited

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A Kaibab squirrel: dark body, white tail, tuffted ears

Thursday, September 11

Julie and I are up bright and early today to revisit the north rim of the Grand Canyon. When I drove out there a couple weeks ago, my visit was cut short by thunderstorms and I didn’t get to do any of the hiking I’d wanted to.

Today’s forecast is sunny and warm…at least at lower elevations. At 7,000 feet it should be quite comfortable. Water bottles, trail mix, beef jerky, sandwiches, and sunscreen get tossed into Bertha, and it’s off we go.

At the very end of the paved road at the north rim, down the spur that proclaims “Winding mountain road, vehicles over 30 feet not recommended” lies an easy and short one mile paved hike out to Angel’s Door, which is what I believe is generally called a window formation, despite the name. A hole has been cut out of a jutting peninsula, and the trail gives multiple views of the window, and eventually leads out over top of it giving a good view of the canyon.

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The Colorado River is just visible between the twists and folds of the land, and a sign brings one’s attention to the color of the river.

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These days it tends to flow bluegreen, the sediment all caught by the dam at Lake Powell above, but in older days before the dam it flowed red, and it flows red today due to the flooding earlier in the week. I consider myself fortunate to catch a glimpse of the Colorado in it’s more natural state.

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Second up on the hiking agenda is the Cliff Spring trail, the one I was really eager to try on my last visit. It’s not paved and there is a bit of elevation change, but it’s still only a mile long out and back.

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Before even reaching the spring, a stone formation covers a crude and old looking structure within. It’s an ancient granary, long ago a tribe of Native Americans use to farm the top of the north rim in the summer, then retreat down to lower elevations when winter came. This activity was already pretty much over by the time white settlers came to the area, scientists think because climate changes brought less rain and made growing crops more challenging.

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Crops may not grow well here, but flowers do!

Not far beyond that, the valley deepens and the trail hugs the side under a truly impressive overhang of rock that runs for a good quarter of a mile. Ponderosa pines climb up from the bottom and cling precariously to the cliffs above. Add to the mix spring water seeping from those orange faces and a plethora of hanging gardens and moss decorated pools and you have a very impressive hike…and photograph.

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It would be a shame to drive out this far and not try to recapture some of the overlooks I couldn’t get good photos of before due to rain. At Vista Encantada, Julie and I have a seat on the old bench and I get a good shot of the view in late afternoon sunlight. The closer ridge almost seems to have a red sand dune running along the top of it, but from the trees growing out of it, I think it’s more solid than it looks.

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Time is running short, but I remember how many blog readers commented on the last post that I should get down below the rim to really get the whole beauty of the Grand Canyon, so we duck on over to Grandview trail, which I quickly ascertain is for serious hikers when an outdoor outfitter group in matching shirts with big backpacks and poles tiredly lugs their way back up to the top with whoops of joy at reaching the end. Julie and I are still in our sandals, and there’s no way we can make it to the midway point, let alone all the way down to the Colorado which is a good 10 miles and several thousand feet in elevation away, but the first check point at Coconino Overlook is only a 2.2 mile round trip and only a drop and subsequent climb of 1,200 feet, that should be possible for two casual hikers such as ourselves, right? Right?

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I avoid looking into the faces of the serious hikers as we make the descent, worried I’ll see doubt there. I do notice how even the most athletic among them are huffing and puffing on the way up. The overlook is pretty, if mostly shaded this time of day. After a quick trail mix stop, it’s back up to the top.

I’ll just blame the panting and slow pace on the elevation, that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

grand-canyon-revisited9Having worked up an appetite, we mosey on over to the Lodge, which is turning a brisk business, even on a weekday and now out of peek season. Food is on our minds, but the lure of one last hike before dark is too much to resist and before we know it our shoes are carrying us out to Bright Angel Point as the sun is about to fall below the canyon walls. It’s that magical time just before sunset when the light turns ruddy and sharply offsets the deepening shadows. My phone camera isn’t worth much in low light situations like this, so you’ll just have to trust my word for it that it was a magical moment.

The grill at the lodge has a waiting list over two hours long, so we opt for a pulled pork sandwich at the little cafeteria style counter instead. It tastes amazing, but maybe that’s what anything would taste like after a day like today.

With the full onset of night, we linger in the gift shop, at the seating area outside the little coffee saloon from which music pours out into the night, and then on the porch outside the lodge which offers a stunning view of the stars. At the large outdoor fireplace nearby, three travelers share tales of the road. It’s a busy place, but we both conclude that we would probably enjoy staying in the cabins at the lodge, the place has a good vibe even after dark, a welcoming, comfortable, almost village-like feel. Maybe someday I will tow Cas up here and splurge for a few nights in the campground.

* * *

It took a couple hours over the course of two days to get this post up on the bad WiFi with all of these pictures, I hope you all enjoy it!

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Also, Sunday the 14th was the anniversary of my second year on the road, I can’t believe it’s been two years already. All I really have to say about that is: “Here’s to many more!” And best of luck to all of you wannabe full-timers out there, hope to meet you all on the road someday soon.

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Becky

Forget about what the world tells you your life should be like. At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and go full-time RVing before retirement. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.

36 Comments

  1. Jack Mayer on September 21, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    Congrats on the the two years. It does go by fast. We’ve been on the road for “awhile”, and it seems like yesterday when we started….



    • Becky on September 23, 2014 at 8:54 pm

      In a way it does for me as well Jack!

      Oh, and I wanted to thank you for providing all of that helpful RV electrical and solar power info on your site, that’s where I learned the basics when I was getting started RVing!



  2. Dawn on September 20, 2014 at 7:16 am

    In 1989 I met my parents in Phoenix (they lived in AL and I lived in MI) and we rented a RV and drove through the SW. We stopped at the Grand Canyon South Rim and walked 1 mile down the Bright Angel trail. The one mile down took 30 min. The 1 mile back up took almost 3 hours. So I know your pain! But it was so cool to be down in the canyon, it’s one of my most favorite memories of my folks. Thanks for reminding me.



    • Becky on September 23, 2014 at 8:48 pm

      You’re welcome Dawn. I’m sorry they’re gone, but glad you have good memories of them. 🙂



  3. Reine in Plano on September 18, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    The North Rim is definitely less crowded than the South Rim but each side has it’s own beauty. It’s amazing how the canyon looks different from different places on each rim and different times of the day but it’s always GRAND.



    • Becky on September 23, 2014 at 8:46 pm

      It sure is Reine! Even the lighting and different times can make a huge difference in appearance.



  4. Furry Gnome on September 18, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    Congratulations on two years of your travelling life! Sounds like you’re making good use of your summer employment location to see the country. I’ve been enjoying your posts.



    • Becky on September 23, 2014 at 8:46 pm

      Glad you’ve liked them Gnome, and thanks! Here’s to many more…



  5. Debbie (the lone) Granger on September 18, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    Wonderful pictures, Becky. I especially liked Angel’s Door and the vertical with the late afternoon sun on the mountains in the distance. Such a wonderful day in nature’s wonderland you both were able to enjoy that day.



    • Becky on September 23, 2014 at 8:44 pm

      Yep, it was a great day. 🙂



  6. Jim@HiTek on September 18, 2014 at 9:47 am

    It’s a mystery to me how you can get such great pictures with a phone camera…beats my Olympus 3DHD regular camera most of the time. Nearly all phone pictures I take are all blurry from movement.

    Jealous of your ability.

    Was at the South Rim back in May on a weekday and it was pleasantly uncrowded. There was never a time hiking along the rim that I didn’t see someone though. It was a challenge taking pictures of just scenery. Had to be close to the canyon edge for those.
    Jim@HiTek recently posted..Just hanging around…My Profile



    • Becky on September 23, 2014 at 8:41 pm

      I clean my phone camera lens all the time, keeping dust and smudges off it helps greatly with the focus Jim.

      And yes, I think the Grand Canyon is one of the most visited national parks in the country, would be hard to get it without people at all.



  7. Jodee Gravel on September 18, 2014 at 8:50 am

    Glad you got the opportunity to give it another look. The twilight pic is stunning :-). Celebration hug on the two-year milestone – sounds like you’re just getting started!
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..From Watermelon to PumpkinsMy Profile



    • Becky on September 21, 2014 at 10:31 pm

      Yeah, I really liked that one too! It was a great time of day to do that hike, I think I’ll remember those views forever.

      And thanks, I feel like I’m just getting started!



  8. John L. on September 18, 2014 at 4:53 am

    Beautiful pix Becky, thank you for sharing! Congrats on your 2 years on the road……heres to many more to come.



    • Becky on September 21, 2014 at 10:29 pm

      Glad you liked them John. Here here!



  9. Vincent Goetz on September 18, 2014 at 4:45 am

    Nice post and great images….I love the North Rim…



    • Becky on September 21, 2014 at 10:28 pm

      It has a certain mystique for sure. Part of it is just the scale it’s on, so large, never seen anything like it before.



  10. jo on September 18, 2014 at 4:42 am

    ENJOYED!
    Thanks, Becky



    • Becky on September 21, 2014 at 10:27 pm

      You’re welcome Jo!



  11. Terri on September 18, 2014 at 3:26 am

    It is much less crowded than the southern rim, I think because it’s so far from everything. Did you happen to see that the north rim advertises on cool works for seasonal employees? I am very tempted to apply for there for the summer 2016 season (just because I will still be at the full time job next summer, saving up cash and cash and….cash.) Their web posting doesn’t say what it pays, though, but I do know you have to pay like $6/night for your campsite and meals are not included. Plus, there are limited groceries available. But on the bright side, it’s freaking gorgeous as all get out, and you are so remote that you can’t really be tempted to spend all of your money! 🙂

    Congrats on your two years! I really do hope to join you in your ranks by next fall. Learning so much from you. Have a great time with Julie!
    Terri recently posted..Just How Low Can I Go?My Profile



    • Becky on September 21, 2014 at 10:26 pm

      Yes I do know that they advertise on Coolworks Terri, the company that does the North Rim is actually the same as the one I worked for in the Badlands last summer, Forever Resorts. I applied there for this summer, but Zion got back to me earlier. The uniform is more upscale (red vest thing over a white blouse) than the Badlands uniform was (polo) but the name tags are exactly the same and the way the store is set up is eerily similar. 😉 I think it would be a neat place to work.

      Thanks, and I hope to meet you on the road soon!



  12. Mike on September 17, 2014 at 5:20 am

    Nice entry. Looking forward to the next.



    • Becky on September 17, 2014 at 10:21 am

      Glad you liked it Mike, thanks.



  13. George on September 17, 2014 at 3:20 am

    Now that Julie is with you, we should see more pictures with one or the other of you in them, right? Glad that you two are together. Although you have not had any issues traveling alone, it makes a parent feel better when they know their child has someone close.

    Beautiful pictures btw, One day it will be my turn. Not much longer.



    • Becky on September 17, 2014 at 10:20 am

      I’ve really liked the north rim George, and I’ve heard it’s less crowded than the south although I cannot confirm that personally yet. When it’s your turn, I hope you take the time to visit the north side!

      I’m not sure how Julie would feel about pictures of her going up on my blog (privacy and all that), but I can probably get a couple with me in them at least.



  14. Shelly on September 17, 2014 at 1:46 am

    Wonderful post Becky, thanks for sharing all your beautiful photos. Such a majestic place, it’s just breathtaking. Happy Anniversary, I look forward to hearing about your next adventure.



    • Becky on September 17, 2014 at 10:11 am

      You’re welcome Shelly, glad you liked it! The pictures from my last Grand Canyon post were pretty bad, real happy I got a chance to go back and do it right. 😉 Late afternoon lighting was the best for photos, just so you know when you get out there!



  15. Russell on September 16, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    We did the Grand Canyon in May. It was windy, cool and snowed the night before. After seeing Bryce Canon, Grand Canyon is now ranked 2nd. How about that, we just finished year two, too. But, we always say we are starting our third year. Makes it sound like we have been on the road longer.
    Russell recently posted..AIR FORCE THUNDERBIRDS AT NELLIS AFBMy Profile



    • Becky on September 17, 2014 at 10:09 am

      Yeah, Bryce is great too. But then again so is Zion. I like them all!

      I’m curious though Russell,what’s the advantage in making people believe you’ve been on the road longer than you have? Prestige?



      • Russell on September 18, 2014 at 6:11 pm

        I never intended to make it sound like I have been on the road long. It’s how the person hearing it thinks. Maybe because 3 is larger than 2? Completed 2 years or starting year 3 means the same thing. In this case, I don’t like saying completed it sound like we are finished RV’ing. Saying starting is like beginning a new chapter in the journey.
        Russell recently posted..SEATTLE, WA (PART III) NATIONAL PARKSMy Profile



        • Becky on September 21, 2014 at 10:23 pm

          Makes sense to me Russell. 🙂



  16. Hans Kohls on September 16, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    Congrats on your 2 years on the road. We just completed 2 years on 9/10. Happy travels!



    • Becky on September 17, 2014 at 10:06 am

      Thanks Hans!



  17. Ron on September 16, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    Now you are seeing some beautiful country. We have been north. South. East and west and like all but west is best.



    • Becky on September 17, 2014 at 10:04 am

      There’s a stunning amount of variety here Ron, and I think part of it is that it’s easier to see it all with the drier climate and less vegetation. Cheaper camping options don’t hurt either. 😉



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