The Pioneer Loop. Day 8: In the Woods.

27 September 2018.

(Location: Grand Canyon National Park)

Woke up after 7am, although hadn’t slept quite as well last night. Still, got plenty of hours in and so eventually surfaced and got ready to go to breakfast some time after 8am. While I waited for Andrew to shower, I sat in the patio and spotted a Sapsucker, a type of woodpecker, but of course it had disappeared by the time I had my camera to hand.

The sky was still blue, the sun shining again and we had the same good breakfast. After getting ourselves and our packs ready we headed down the road to the canyon. We stopped at a pull out I had noted yesterday to take pictures of the aspen trees. Just a few days ago these were mostly green and yellow, now they are already yellow and orange, shimmering in the sun.

After that we entered the park, stopping to take the sign photos…

… before carrying on. In one of the large meadows was a herd of bison. These didn’t appear to be as large as the Yellowstone variety.

Our first port of call was the lodge, so that I could cancel our dinner reservation. Although it would have been lovely to eat in the historic dining room (and the menu looked good), we were both agreed that we would be too tired to wait until 7pm for dinner, have dinner and then drive 50 minutes in the dark back up the road. We had a little nosey around the lodge again and looked at the canyon.

This video doesn’t exist

We then made our way to the Widforss Trailhead. Luckily, there was just space to park the car. We got our stuff together and set off. In researching this trail, I’m reasonably sure that it had been described as ‘level but undulating’. Well, all I can say is that it soon became apparent that someone else’s idea of undulations was my idea of up hill and down dale!

This video doesn’t exist

Still, it was lovely walking through the forest. The scent of the pines, the aspens shining away…truly lovely. After three quarters of a mile we got our first vista of the canyon. From then on, the trail would wind up and down and into the woods and back to the rim, providing frequent glimpses of the canyon through the trees and occasional full panoramic views. Two wildfires were visible on the south rim plateau, possibly in the Kaibab National Forest, which appeared to increase in ferocity during the day. Smoke billowed high into the sky, luckily for us blowing away to west and not filling the canyon.

We were making our way around The Transept, a side canyon, from which we could get good views of Oza Butte, as well as Bright Angel Canyon and, I think, the Deva Temple. Internet research would be helpful to confirm that, but this will obviously have to wait.

We stopped at around 2 miles and had lunch (a snack bar). We ambled a short way further, but decided to turn around and return to the car, given our slow pace and the time of day. It was just as pretty going back! I’m also fairly sure we passed the same squirrel in both directions, although it could have been his brother in the way back.

A video of our hike is here (hopefully…):

Widforss Trail hike.

We drove half way back to the Inn, passing the bison again, and pulled over at an improbably located Espresso van, which I’d been thinking about for a while having seen it the last two days, only to discover we were 15 minutes too late and it was shut. However, the adjacent country store building had Starbucks iced latte drinks, so I bought a couple of those and, a few miles further on, we pulled over to drink them and eat one of the world famous (well, I knew about them before we came) Jacob Lake Inn cookies. And yes, they were good. And while we were eating them we saw a coyote running across the meadows. No, no photo…I had my hands full of cookie!

Back at the Inn we started to follow the trail to the Lake, but the sign said it was 1.25 miles each way, and it was only just over an hour to sunset. The trail also looked hilly and rocky, so we concluded that we didn’t have time and returned to our room, sat on our patio and relaxed instead.

We decided to go early to dinner, as we wanted counter service. It was a good decision because it was already busy and soon after we sat down it was full. The garden burger was again very tasty.

That left the rest of the evening to shower, relax and watch analysis of the Senate hearings, which are definitely big news. Whether anything changes as a result is an entirely different matter, as ever with politics. Oh, which reminds me that we have been listening to a local public radio station NPR, based in northern Arizona. They have an interesting and diverse programming and even covered Brexit during yesterday’s drive!

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