We woke the next morning, not with the sun. It was overcast and threatening to rain. Husbeast looked out the window and people were already out and about on the rim trail that passed by our window.
We didn't hurry. We didn't have to. We enjoyed coffee and hot cocoa that came with the room and tried to soak in as much time there as we could. We hated to leave that little cabin behind, but with our limited time, we had to keep moving on.
We grabbed drinks and snacks at the gift shop, three of the $4 ponchos and a map of the Bright Angel Trail. Our idea was that we would hike as far as the Indian Garden (3 miles) and then head back to continue on with our journey.
The trail down was steep right off the bat and there were icy patches where the sun had not yet warmed the path. It was wide enough to comfortably pass people and we had read signs telling us that if we met the mules we would need to stay to the inside of the trail and follow the guides instructions.
The trail switched back and forth with views north and south at each turn. All three of us began to notice the effects of down hill hiking and we laughed a little at our surprise. We weren't sure what we were expecting but we were shocked at how steep the trail was. Obviously we were new here...
We had been making our way down the trail for a while, admiring the scenery and noticing the changing layers of the landscape when Husbeast stopped to get a drink and get Weebeast a snack. We looked at the map again and decided that our original idea probably wasn't going to happen. We hadn't even made it to the mile and a half mark and we had been on the trail long enough to know that the trip back up was going to be tough. There's a reason they tell all hikers not to attempt the round trip (8miles) to the river and back. The trip back....dang.....
A new plan formed partly because we were short on time and partly because it was going to be a long while before we saw new angles of the Canyon. We wanted to see more of it than what we could see from the trail we were on.
We hiked as far as the mile and a half rest point. We took a few moments to take it all in and admire the view. Then we headed for the top again. It didn't take long to realize we were going to be much slower on the way back up. It took us over an hour to get back to the top. The rain that was falling on the trail-head above wasn't even hitting us. We would feel a few drops now and then, and we were pretty glad that the sun wasn't out for our journey back to the top!
We did stop for a ridiculous amount of time to watch a squirrel find his cache. We giggled at his antics and his style. He was not afraid of us at all which was part of the fun of watching him. He'd dig with his front legs for a while and when the pile built up too high under his belly, he would use his hind legs to shovel the pile out of the way and down the hill. In the time we watched, he uncovered the treasure he was sure he buried there, stuffed it in his pouch and went back to excavating. We carried on about our journey too.
We met a group headed down into the canyon, and true to the signs, the lead guide asked us to move to the inside of the trail as they went by. Some of the riders were smiling widely and happy to be there and others had death grips on their saddle horns and more of a grimace for a greeting. Closer to the top we met the string that would bring their gear to them. We stepped out onto a wide point that was well away from the trail, thinking it made sense. The guide stopped about 30 yards from us and asked us to move his direction and to the inside. I suppose I'm grateful that they aren't in a hurry to let a mule's rump knock us off the path...
When we finally made it to the top of the trail we headed into the Kolb Brothers Museum to see their photos and read their story. They were some of the very first to photograph the Grand Canyon and their studio was the present day museum.
The crowd up top had grown considerably and even though we were hungry, we weren't in the right mood for that many people. We decided to make our way back out of the Canyon and stop at some view points on the way out.
I can't put into words, the enormity and depth of the Canyon. I could tell you the technical side and give you the numbers, but that won't do the beauty of it any justice. Even though, many times, we stood right on the edge of it and looked out and straight down, it felt unreal. It felt like the view one might have from an airplane even though we were right. there. Each time I would look out across as far as I could see and then bring my eyes back to what was below me, I would get the dizzy feeling that comes from a roller coaster ride. I was very glad for the fences and rails that were between me and loosing my balance forever.
Weebeast and I got brave enough to pose on the rock wall that had a good 5 feet of ground between us and the bottom!
Our last stop was the Watchtower back at Desert View. The architect worked with local tribes to include each of their heritage on the different levels of the tower. Once inside the circular stairs led up four flights to the top where the panoramic views were exceptional.
Husbeast made the comment that he was glad we had stopped there on our way out. It was the best view by far, for soaking it all in and giving it one last look, for as far as we could see.
As we wound our way down the highway leaving the park, the Little Colorado River and its canyon made us chuckle at our ignorance of the size of the Grand Canyon. Truly a site never to be forgotten.
Our travels that afternoon took us north to Page, Arizona and the dam that makes Lake Powell. We stretched our legs there and looked down at the river from the bridge above.
Once back in Utah we set our sights for making Cedar City in time for dinner. At a gas station on the highway I looked up steak houses there and found one that closed at 9. We were about an hour away and it was 7:30. We had passed through many other towns and left many restaurants behind and I was growing hungry!
We were pretty certain we would make it. That was until we turned on to Highway 14 and headed into the mountains as the rain that had been falling for the past several miles, turned to a rain/sleet mix and a herd of elk passed us on their way down the mountain...