Passing through Flagstaff we took our leave of Route 66 to head north up the scenic route to the southern rim of the Grand Canyon. You read about it, see pictures of it, but nothing quite prepares you for your first view of it. Our first view, after checking into our room for the next three nights, was of Trailview Overlook. It was late afternoon and the colours very rich the in the dying sun. We walked along the rim trail passing Bright Angel Lodge and the start of the Bright Angel Trail taking in the views as we went. Past El Tovar Lodge where I had fancied having dinner me night, Amr had other ideas after checking out the menu! We continued on the trail past Verkamp’s Visitor Centre then heading back to our room via the Market Plaza. A light snack before we both crashed out, the heat and altitude getting the better of us.
For our first full day we decided to get the free shuttle bus to Hermits Rest and walk back along the Rim Trail. The bus ride was BA out forty minutes but it felt like five as we watched the views of the canyon as passengers alighted and boarded at each of the nine stops until we reached the end. The weather was kind to us, sunny with clouds, sometimes hot but often trees gave us some shade, a refreshing breeze, sometimes turning into a cool wind kept the heat at bay. The views are stupendous. Changing all the time as we moved along the trail. The clouds above casting shadows on the canyon and changing the scenery constantly. Words can not describe the rocks and shapes of the canyon, or our excitement at seeing the turquoise Colorado River in the bottom of the canyon. Despite the buses being busy the trail was fairly devoid of people for the most part, only getting busy as we passed each of the bus stops. Many people just get the bus, stop take a few pictures then back on the bus to the next stop. The trail takes you close to the edge in most parts along a paved path. For some parts the rough trail is exceedingly close to the edge, they do warn you not to try if you don’t have a head for heights and I can see why, it was pretty scary in parts. The smell of the pine trees was intoxicating whilst beautiful huge yellow butterflies kept flying past us, enormous flying black beetles seemed to be saying why are you disturbing us as we walked. Lots of geckos basking in the sun, the odd squirrel nibbling on nuts, not shy in the least, and a lovely mule deer chomping on leaves took our eyes of the canyon views for a while. We stopped for lunch in a shaded spot with a fabulous view.
All the notices and guidance tell you to take plenty of water, and they’re so right, even though it was not excessively hot today we finished our supply even after topping up before starting our walk. Observing people we met along the way is amusing. Some who speak to pass the time of day, some who heads down ignore anyone in their path. In parts it’s too narrow for more than one person to pass so often we stopped to let other pass, some saying thank you, others passing without acknowledgement that we had stopped for them. There does seem to be a pattern between ages, nationalities and gender, but I will not go into that!
Having completed the trail back to Bright Angel Lodge, just over eight and a half miles, we rewarded ourselves with enormous ice creams, thus negating all the calories we had used during our walk!
Day two, and we decided to complete walking the Rim Trail this time starting from the east end. We took the free shuttle bus hoping to get to Yaki Point then walk back. Unfortunately there is not a path from Yaki Point, and the bus does not stop at Kaibab South Trail (where the Rim Trail starts) on its return journey so we hopped of the bus at Kaibab. We wandered a little down the Kaibab trail just to see what the view looked like further down into the canyon, and yes the views have a very different perspective, making you feel very small within nature. As it’s very steep we didn’t go too far, turning back to start our Rim Trail. The views from this side are more wide sweeping than yesterday, the ‘wow’s’ kept on coming. Today was more chilly and the wind kept whipping up, at time very strong, scary if you happen to be standing close to the edge of the canyon taking pictures, as of course I was frequently! Today being Saturday there were more people around the bus stop areas, and the views around the Visitor Centre were very crowded, would hate to be here in summer!
Leaving the Grand Canyon Village for Page we took the desert drive heading east and got what we think are some of the best views of the canyon. Wide open vistas, often unspoilt by trees blocking the view, perfect panoramic views. The Colorado River twinkling turquoise in the bottom making its twists and turns around the rocks. The watchtower at the east end of the National Park was busy but we still climbed to the top!