Sunday, July 5, 2009

Oh the Grandeur

Day 7: July 3, 2009 – Grand Canyon, AZ
“Today was a good day.” – Mike

After having our first night in the tent, we awoke amongst the ponderosa pine trees and smells of home. We were energized and ready to begin our day of touring the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. After a breakfast of yogurt and apple with peanut butter, we made our way into the Jacob Lake Inn where we were to meet Melissa’s college friend, Amanda. Amanda has been working in the Kaibab National Forest, which is just north of the National Park, since May, she was therefore elected to be our tour guide and our “in” to all the secrets of the Grand Canyon.

Once we were all situated in Navajo Durango, we made our way to the entrance of the Grand Canyon. If you don’t know much about the Grand Canyon, as far as places to go as a visitor it’s important to note that there is a North Rim and a South Rim. The South Rim is the one that is more highly populated as it is accessible from large cities. The South tends to reach higher temperatures and is of Pinyon/Juniper forest as Amanda, our tour guide who has a degree in forestry, informed us. The North Rim, however is less populated, less hot and is of Ponderosa Pine forest, all of which we prefer!

As is the norm, we stopped at the visitor center first, looked at a map and started to make our plan for the day. We looked over the scenic points that were located at the lodge then proceeded to make some sandwiches before going on the Widforss Trail. The trail was absolutely amazing. In general the landscape was reminiscent of Wyoming, however, we would often find ourselves walking the edge of the Canyon, greeted by the stunning view of red bluffs that faded to browns that dropped out of sight. We took many photos, saw a deer and even met a young couple, they claimed to be 71 and 74, but we wonder if maybe those were their birth years, they looked hardly a day over 45.

Having completed the Widforss Trail we made our way onto the main road and took the fork that led to Angel’s Window and Cape Royal Trail. The winding road was soothing to Melissa’s tired body and she spent most of the ride dozing off. When the three of us arrived at the trail however, there was the prelude of a fantastic lightning show beginning to brew. The clouds had been building up for this moment all day as the afternoon set in the changed from their barely gray hue to a dark and powerful shade of blue-gray. Amanda and Melissa waited in anticipation for the lightning and the rain to come. Mike was also waiting in anticipation, he was just exploring while doing so. As was to be expected, the lightning bolts were fantastic and powerful. We watched as the rain would pour down the opposing cliffs, leaving parts of the canyon shaded and hardly visible.

After sitting and watching for some time, Amanda and Melissa decided that they ought to wander around and hopefully find Mike in their meanderings, their bellies were claiming that it was dinner time. The trail to find Mike was most enjoyable as the ladies saw many new points on the Canyon and finally glimpsed the noted Angel’s Window. Eventually, Mike was found on a point, camera full of amazing pictures. We all made our way back to the car where we boiled some water and made some Country Cabbage Soup which Melissa had dehydrated in the winter. Not much beats a beautiful day in the wilderness followed by the home-made tastes of Wyoming’s winter.

As we consumed the soup which we had all worked so hard for, we realized that the storm was not about to break and the sunset may not have a chance to shine through as we were hoping. Unanimously, the trio decided to make their way to Kaibab Lodge, just outside of the Park to enjoy some of the best home-made desserts available in the area (according to our trusty guide, Amanda). We hit the road, not knowing the greatness that was still to come, and we’re not talking dessert!

Immediately as we left the Park borders we were privileged to see a herd of 50-60 bison come out of the woods into a meadow. Amanda, who has recently conquered her once-in-a-life time bison hunt and kill, was ecstatic – this was, she believed the herd from which her hefty bull had come! Mike and Melissa were equally excited, yet at the same time surprised – “I never really thought the Grand Canyon would be home to Bison,” they both thought aloud. Amanda had explained that in the history of the Canyon, the decision had been made to bring Bison to the area, particularly the National Forest which borders the Park, the Bison were to provide hunting opportunities. Although the bison have caused some drama within the park, they are a beautiful and powerful beast which we were grateful to experience.

After watching the bison for a quite a while, we continued on our way to the Kaibab Lodge where we enjoyed the most fabulous home-made desserts and the most fabulous brand of loose leaf tea. Mike enjoyed a slice of Key Lime Pie, while Amanda opted for the Mountain Lion cake, and Melissa took on the Blond Bombshell, all claimed they had the most fabulous dessert and enjoyed their cups of tea. Mike and Amanda checked out the days pictures and caught up on recent baseball news while Melissa posted the previous day’s blog.

As the day came to an end Mike and Melissa were impressed with how non-touristy the North Rim had felt. We had enjoyed the great outdoors and even moments of seeming isolation which we had not expected for our time in the Grand Canyon. Mike’s concluding thoughts for the day were, “Today was a good day, but I think tomorrow will be excellent!” And to know why this was his thought, he’ll have to wait for the blog about Day 8.

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