Mountains and Canyons. Day 11: Looking Down

(Location: Grand Canyon National Park)

This being our “easy” day here at the Canyon, I didn’t get up until 0815, although I had been awake for a while, attempting to read things via a very slow internet. It’s a test of patience which I generally fail and just read the headlines instead. I showered and dressed and then made myself coffee. While Andrew got up, I sat out on the balcony just taking in the forest and relaxing. It was only about 9C and very windy, but the wind was from the south-west and the balcony faces east. In the sun and out of the wind, it felt lovely and warm.

We ambled to breakfast and then gathered our kit and drove out of the main South Rim area by a few miles and parked at the trailhead for Shoshone Point. We have walked this once before, at sunset, but not during the day. The walk is mostly within woodland.

After 0.8 miles, you start to see the north rim appearing over the horizon of the path; by one mile you have arrived at the viewpoint, a jutting-out section of cliff affording more than 180 degrees of vista, with a unique standing stone on top.

This is such a simple walk, but possibly the best view of the canyon, made so much better by the fact that we had it to ourselves. Apart from taking multiple photos (as you will see!) we just sat and absorbed the canyon for a while. The view was so clear…Wotan’s Throne, the Vishnu Temple, the Palisades of the Desert, the Desert View Watchtower, Horseshoe Mesa, the Unkar Creek Rapids…and in the other direction, the South Kaibab Trail below Skeleton Point, Cremation Creek and Newton Butte.

After leaving the viewpoint we wandered along the adjacent cliff, before returning to the car.

We drove to the visitor centre and parked there, then found our way to the coffee shop associated with the bike rental shop. After a latte and cookie/muffin eaten in a sheltered sunny spot, and a browse of the bookstore, we decided to walk rather than take a shuttle bus to the village. This meant a pleasant, quiet, sheltered-from-the-wind walk along the Greenway through the pine woods.

Approaching the village we saw a family of Elk. First one of the adults crossed the road, then another. This one stopped, however, to wait for ‘the kids’ to make sure they got across ok…it was very lovely.

Once at the rim we visited the Kolb Studio and the Plein Air art exhibition. There were some nice pieces, but a bit beyond my budget. We also browsed the Hopi House, a gift shop with Native American crafts.

From there, we walked along the rim admiring the views as the afternoon sun started its slide towards the horizon and the geological ‘trail of time’ which includes rock exhibits and information boards about the creation of the region and the canyon.

We eventually (yes, this was supposed to be the easy day but somehow that mileage crept up to 5.8 miles this afternoon, 8.1 miles for today…) returned to the car and drove back to our room. A quick change and a walk back to the rim…we caught the last of the sunset and then headed to the Bright Angel restaurant for dinner. A waiter service restaurant and so much tastier than the canteen at Maswik Lodge, it was a nice way to end the day. I had veggie burger (the best in a long time) preceded by lentil soup. They serve the soup with saltine crackers. At least the hiking gives an excuse to eat these salty crackers because they are tasty, even if they aren’t much use when it comes to mopping your bowl clean at the end…!

That just left a torch light walk back to the room, showers and then we were relaxing in bed by 7.30pm! So, ‘easy’ day over…proper hiking tomorrow?!

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