Twice Grand, because we’ve been to the less popular North Rim as well. I could also add there another Grand for the hiking day down to the Colorado river and back up to the South Rim, and also one ‘Grande’ for Alessio, our Brnonian friend who reminds us all the time that everything around us is amazing, and all we need to do is look better.
Our trip to the Grand Canyon started a bit earlier than a normal trip. We slept in the desert some 60 miles away from the Desert View entrance, and we woke up early, wishing to take the trail to the river and back that very first day. After reaching the park at 8 am, we realized how late we were for the trail. Also, all the ads around warned people not to even attempt to hike to the river and back in one day! We were a bit worried at first, and Lucy wanted to stay by the rim and wait for me. Since it was already late, we spent the day driving from one lookout to another, taking pictures, walking around a bit, and gathering information about the hike. The final word came from the guy at the back country office information – yes, it is possible to go there and back in one day. We told him we want to start at 3am to make sure we make the most of the trip in the cool of the night, but he said it’s too early. However, I was happy that Lucy agreed to join me on this trail.
So, once this was settled, we got out of the park for some shopping and a place to sleep. While there were plenty of places to sleep in the nearby National forest, the food was 2 to 5 times more expensive in the nearby tourist ‘city’ of Tusayan. The same prices we found further away in Valle. We ended up driving for shopping to the city of Williams and back (about 120 miles) and still save money – considering the fuel. But as all bad things turn into good things, Williams was a nice evening site – a city full of attractions for the lovers of the historic Route 66, a city lit up in bright blue and red neon lights, teeming with life as soon as the last rays of sun hit the sand.
No time for us to wander – we have a long day planned for tomorrow. Waking up at 3:30am was not that bad, but we started going down the trail at 4:55am. We were not the first, and not the last either – flashlights were everywhere along the path, but mostly behind us. Fortunately maybe, the first couple of hours we walked down a wide path, winding down the steep way without a single stop to admire the view. The moonlight was missing the whole night. The sunrise got us 1/3rd of the way down, and the mild sun followed us all the way to the Colorado river, giving us the chance to admire the stunning views. Before we arrived at the bottom of the valley, 20 people passed us running and 12 mules carrying stuff – we were definitely taking it slow. 8:15 and we crossed the bridge to the campground. 8:45 and we’re already heading up after a relaxing breakfast. The sun is up, mildly burning, and pushing us from behind. We thought we’d stop midway to the Indian Gardens and take a long rest, maybe a few hours of sleep, but Lucy said we should get going – looks like someone had a good night sleep and is fit for walking in the sun. Long story short, we walked down and back up just for the sake of it, and it was awesome! Took us 9h:30 with about 2h of rest on the way, and it was well worth doing. We obviously ended up with sore muscles and crawled around for the next 2 days… but I’d do it again (not Lucy).
After a good night sleep, we headed over to the North Rim, where we had a different view of the Grand Canyon. We took a longer route, through Flagstaff, as we needed to install a new part on the car. That took us some time too, but it was also worth it (Dolphy has now working cruise control and airbag and horn!). On the way there we made a few stops for nice pictures, and a bit of stretching, like the gas stop in Valle, with the rusty horses, or the Navajo bridge, and a bit further, the rocks with houses built around them. The North Rim is different, also awesome, and it’s less popular. There is the highest point of the rim, and a very nice viewpoint. Plus a lot of dare-devil stones for awesome facebook pictures.
We’re now heading to Moab/Arches National Park, and Canyonlands. We’ll spend a few days there, and hopefully get wifi more often.