TRIP DAY FIVE!
Day two at the Grand Canyon started at the Williams, AZ's "Goldie's Route 66 Diner." We had considered attempting to make it to the canyon for sunrise, but getting five people up at 4:30 AM was impractical. Instead we enjoyed eggs and coffee and took our time.
We made it up to the canyon while it was still pretty early and boarded the blue bus heading to the red transfer that would take us toward the Hermit's rest. At the transfer we realized that rather than riding the bus up, we could also walk. Altogether, the trail that we started off on is about 9 miles, but there is a bus stop about every half mile. We enjoyed the native flora and fauna as well as the magnificent views while walking about a mile.
(Bright Angel Trail)
From several points along the trail we could see the "Bright Angel Trail" that takes very adventurous canyon visitors down into the canyon and all the way to the Colorado River at the bottom.
The warning on the website about the Bright Angel Trail says the following:
Depending on how prepared you are, your trip can be a vacation or a challenge, a revelation or an ordeal. Over 250 peeople are rescued from the canyon each year. The difference between a great adventure in Grand Canyon and a trip to the hospital (or worse) is up to YOU.
We had not planned nor were adventurous enough to risk an ordeal going down the Bright Angel this trip, but maybe sometime in the future Allen and I will plan a hike into the canyon itself.
We explored the rim trail for a couple of hours, gradually gaining elevation as we sometimes walked, sometimes rode to the next lookout point.
The canyon itself is hard to describe, and you might wonder why go from lookout to lookout and expend all that energy with less than half a mile between each view?
Perhaps Robert Stanton who was the National Park Service director describes it best:
"But look again! Those terrifying walls are moving, are changing! A new light is not only creeping over them, but is coming out from their very shadows. See those flattened slopes above the dark sandstone on top of granite; even at this very moment they are being colored in gorgeous stripes of horizontal layers of yellow, brown, white, green, purple. What means this wondrous change? Wherein lies this secret of the great canyon?
The canyon really is so vast that it is hard to wrap your mind around its size. And it does change. It is uncanny. Every cloud, wind, and second of time changes the scene. It is really quite spectacular and impossible to capture in a photo.
When we got hungry for lunch, we rode the bus back down the hill and to the truck where turkey and cheese wraps were in the cooler waiting to be made. At this point we decided to leave the main tourist area and drive along the "Desert View." There are five or six lookout points along this trail and we stopped at each and every one. Allen and I even descended a little way down into the canyon at Lipan Point, elevation 7360 feet. We didn't go far since we really were not prepared for the rough trail. Neither of us were wearing great hiking shoes and we only had plastic water bottles with us. We were thrilled though, to at least be able to say we climbed down into the canyon.
Jenae got a picture from above of our descent.
We also explored the famous architecture of the Desert View Watchtower and I was impressed to learn that it was designed by a woman named Mary Colter and was finished in 1832.
When we left the Grand Canyon for the night we were driving east, away from our campsite in Williams. We decided that we would loop around and check out Sunset Crater on the way home.
It was a 200 mile journey, round trip, and we stopped at every jewelry stand that exists between the Grand Canyon and Cameron, AZ.
I didn't get any pictures of the jewelry shopping that we did. But we did A LOT of it! Basically, about every 1/2 mile the Navajo people had set up tents or small wooden buildings and filled them with jewelry, dream catchers, tomahawks, and arrows. We shopped to our hearts content all the while still being amazed at the landscape and glimpses of the canyon beyond.
Sunset Crater is another of the many amazing national parks that I had little idea even existed.
It is believed that the volcano erupted somewhere around 1100 AD and has left black cinder covering the ground for miles. We arrived just as the sun was setting and it was really beautiful
After spending a little time at the volcano, we were tired and hungry and completed the circle that began earlier in the day at the Diner. It was 8:30 or 9:00 by the time we made it there so the hamburgers and sweet potato fries definitely hit the spot. Allen even ate a piece of pie before his dinner came.