Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Grand Canyon

Tusayan and the Grand Canyon
The next week or so would be a road trip sightseeing in Arizona.  We started with a seven hour trip from Palm Springs 430mls to the Grand Canyon, pausing for lunch at a Cracker Barrel in Kingman.  There's no direct route because there's a vast expanse of rock and desert in the way!  So generally headed in a NE direction.  Hundreds of miles of vast scrub land and desert.  Eventually climbed up to a high level plateau of forests of conifers and significantly cooler, about 8'C.
It was dark when we arrived, so the trip to the Canyon would have to wait until the following day, the park being closed at dusk until dawn.  Cloudy all day today but good forecast for tomorrow.
Having done a long hike here a few years ago, we knew carrying plenty of water was essential, so we carried a couple of litres each.  As it happened there was water at Indian Garden, about halfway through our hike.  Lovely sunny but chilly day as we parked at the Visitor Centre and then warmed up our muscles on the  2 1/2 mile hike to Grand Canyon Village and the start of the Bright Angel trail, a hike along the South Rim, gazing down into the expanse of the Canyon.  Still truly awesome!  That word should be reserved for sights such as this, which describe it literally.  Magnificent!  The Bright Angel Trail drops gradually 3000' over 6miles to Indian Garden and on to Plateau Point with views down to the Colorado river below, a further 3 miles down.  It's possible to hike all the way down and back in one day, but all the signs warn it's not recommended!  So of course that made us think it might be something to do in the future!  Some people break the trek by camping down in the bottom, or at Indian Garden, and we saw plenty of people who had done just that, but were put off by the massive rucksacks they were carrying, and the forecasted drop in temperature to minus degrees tonight and early morning.  If you going to do it, go for it, travel light with plenty of water at a cool time of year, like now.  However......as we climbed back up, and tried to stay ahead of a fit, lean French couple, so pushing on quite speedily, I remember thinking, "don't let me think of doing this whole route down to the river".  It would be possible but challenging!  And as the sign says, "Descending is optional.  Returning is Mandatory!"
We were pipped by the Frenchman, with only a few yards to go, but he'd clearly had us as much in his sights, as we had him!  The upside was that we got back up to the top from Indian Garden in just less than 2hours.  Felt better than the last time we did it, when I sent Ian out for a McDonalds, cos I couldn't face going out.  Went out for yet another Mexican meal, and a massive pint of local lager/beer!  Plaza Bonita- good food.
Really cold at night.

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