Reverse Circle: Wide Angle

(Day 2: Grand Canyon)

Sleep was good. We got up around 0730 and got ourselves into hike mode: sun lotion, shorts and rucksacks ready. Before heading to Grand Canyon, however, we needed more food. I drove the beast the mile or so into Williams and back to the diner, where we had a good breakfast to stoke up for the day. We then had a little wander around the town centre which was very heavily influenced by its status as a historic town on Route 66, with lots of shops reflecting the 1950s. Williams is also the end of the line for the Grand Canyon Railway. The town seemed nicer in the daylight than last night when we drove through and everything just seemed to be illuminate with neon, like a cheap Las Vegas. On reflection, it was probably the 1950s ethos permeating into the decor.

The drive to Grand Canyon took about an hour, with a short stop to fuel up the car on the way in and we drove straight to the backcountry parking lot, near Maswik Lodge. As we parked up, the Grand Canyon train came past us inbound for the Canyon station. We must have looked like ‘proper’ hikers, as a couple approached us and offered us their spare camping gas. I thanked them for their generosity and declined, not quite admitting we were just rim sauntering today. After sorting ourselves out, putting our hiking boots on and generally working out if we had everything (this becomes so much more a habit after a few days, but we have got out of practice) we walked towards Bright Angel Lodge and caught a shuttle bus all the way out to Hermits Rest, from where we were going to walk the 8 miles back along the rim.

The first mile was very slow, mostly because I kept stopping to look at the view and take another photograph! I changed to my wide angle lens to try and convey the extent of the scene, but even this doesn’t do it justice. The clouds did add to the sky scene though and made for a lot of interest. The next mile or two are much more in the woods, with slightly fewer viewpoints so the pace picked up, but it was still enjoyable. It was a great autumn day and you could smell the pine trees, with their faint hint of vanilla. Despite being prime nut-burying season, it took me until mile 3 to spot a squirrel, though, and even that was just a fleeting glimpse. I was also surprised how few birds I could spot, apart from the ever present ravens.

At mile 4 we came across a picnic a table with view and so stopped to each our energy bars (lunch). We also found a couple of USGS survey points (one from 1936 put there by the Bureau of Public Roads) and checked them against our GPS altitude readings…pretty accurate!

The weather forecast had given even odds for rain and a chance of thunder and lightening and, as we progressed, the rain was clearly moving over the north rim. Luckily the wind direction kept it away from us. 

At one point we could see lightening striking the rim and, later, we had thunder nearer to us. We were stood out at the end of Maricopa Point at the time, looking at the left over mine workings from Orphan Mine. This point really sticks out into the canyon and I didn’t fancy being the tallest point around in case of lightening, so we beat a quick retreat back to the main trail. Despite it getting quite dark, and feeling a few drops of rain, we made it the whole way back without it raining on us. I think we must have just been lucky.

Towards the end I was delighted when a Canyon Blue Jay (I think – no Internet available as I write to check on this) swooped over our heads and landed in a nearby tree. Every time the camera came out it hid behind the foliage, but we got a shot eventually!

We called in at Maswik Lodge for dinner, before heading to our own lodge, Yavapai, to check in. We also picked up a few supplies from the supermarket before driving to our lodge building and decanting all of our belongings into our room. I have now unpacked and repacked the suitcases so we can find things…although everything now seems to take up at least twice as much space!  Now to relax, sleep and be ready for more tomorrow. The storm did eventually  get here, about 10pm, with thunder and rain, but I didn’t care as I was cozy in bed!

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