After a night of total thunder and lightening storms, the weather for the morning was still a little drizzly and cool. We ventured over to the El Tovar Lodge to see if our internet would work better. the El Tovar Lodge was built in 1905 and the story of the builder, Fred Harvey is incredible. He started out as a dishwasher and amassed an empire by working with the Santa Fe Railroad to build eateries and hotels along the train routes, 22 in all. He was also the first to employ female servers. The Lodge, designed by Mary Colter is built out of logs and represents the pioneer and southwestern motifs. It is pretty much the way it has always been and is just 25 feet from the Rim.
Just by happenstance, we were there in time to catch the most amazing sights of the Canyon through fog and clouds. It was surreal and ethereal being above the clouds and the fog hanging over the Canyon like cotton candy. Slowly, the fog dissipated, the Canyon walls came into view, the clouds starting drifting off and the sky lightened around us.
|South Rim Fog and Clouds|
|Starting to Clear|
In the afternoon, with clear skies and warm weather, we took the shuttle bus up to Hermit's Rest getting off at several stops and walking the Rim Trail from one shuttle stop to another. We marveled at the tenacity of some of the folks hiking down into the Canyon on Bright Angel Trail. You can do round trip of three miles, six miles or a two day trip. Most of the people, we think were doing the three mile trip. It is a drop in elevation of 1,121 feet. It is extremely steep with many switchbacks around the Canyon walls. It is the same path the burros take down for a two day excursion. The total trail elevation descent is almost a full mile. Of course, you have to come back up again!
|Bright Angel Trail|
From each overlook, you saw a different angle into the Canyon.
From two of them we could see the Colorado River which looked brownish from the sediment drifting down from the Painted Desert. We were able to make out rafts going down the rapids with a helicopter above it. Zoomed to the max to get this shot.
|Raft on Rapids with Helicopter Above It|
The sun was right for afternoon pictures and the colors were spectacular..all shades of pinks, purples, tans, and golds.
Wednesday, July 25th
We had scoped out the inclines on the way up to Hermit's Rest yesterday with the thought that we would do the same as we did in Zion. Put the bikes on the shuttle bus to the top and ride our bikes down. We also thought this would be easier than hiking until I got adjusted to the altitude again. So, we put on our helmets and bike gloves and pedaled three miles over to the shuttle bus and rode it to the top at Hermit's Rest. We still thought the inclines going back would not be many or difficult. How wrong we were. There were almost as many ups as there were downs and my legs were truly tested. Tim did just fine, of course, but I was ready to throw in the towel and ride the shuttle bus back about 2/3rds of the way down, but instead we rested and climbed the last hill before our wonderful total downhill ride back to the village. We rode the bus back to the campground from the Village though as I just couldn't do three more miles. We did a total of nine on the hills and I was done for the day!
|Tim Taking Picture of Colorado River Below|
|Condor Photo Cropped In|
They say there are about 277 condors in the wild. They trap them, examine them and retag them every year. One of the problems they have is lead poisoning which they can get from eating the carcass of a deer that is shot with a lead bullet and left in the wildernes. They are tested for this each year before they are released back into the wild. There is now a program where the hunters can exchange the lead bullets for copper ones in hopes that this will remedy the problem.
Thursday, July 26th
Tim had toured the east end of the Park when he was here alone, but today he wanted to visit it with me again. He toured it on his bike, but I have had enough of bikes for a few days, so we took the shuttle bus to Kaibab Point. The shuttle has a few stops along the way and at each overlook there is a different viewing perspective of the Canyon.
At the South Kaibab Point there is a trail that descends almost 1200 feet in a mile and a half which makes it much steeper than the Bright Angel Point Trail. This trail connects with other trails that will take you across the Canyon to Indians Garden and the Bright Angel Trail. There is a stop along the way for a 1.8 mile round trip but it is still very steep with a 600 foot descent in less than a mile. We did no real hiking today, just short walks to the overlooks which was fine with my sore legs from biking yesterday.
|South Kaibab Trail -From top right down to the left at the ridge line.|
It is really wonderful that some of the parks have these shuttle buses. Thousands of people use them everyday. Just imagine the congestion and pollution if everyone were to drive their own vehicles through the parks. I will say, though, that we like the North Rim a little better than the South Rim for the sheer reason that it is so crowded here. The vistas are incredible from either Rim.