Sunday, October 07, 2007

It's a Grand Canyon

September 30 we finished our time at Kodachrome Basin State Park. From there we went to Kanab, a small town on the Utah-Arizona boarder where many movies have been filmed—think westerns, for example. For us, the attraction was that they have three—count them, three—grocery stores and a nice RV park. It was a one night stop to provision for four days at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. The drive from Kanab to the Grand Canyon was amazing. We left Color Country—SW Utah with its sculpted colored rocks—and immediately entered flat land with only low-growing sage brush.

As our altitude increased, there were some low dark green bushes. We entered the Kaibab forest, where we commented that it certainly wasn't like the forests we are used to in Colorado. All around us we saw only short trees, called the pygmy forest—pinion pine and maybe juniper. Then, all of a sudden, huge ponderosa pines lined the road.

It is October and wherever there was a sprinkling of aspen, there was a spot of bright yellow. The drive over the top of the Kaibab Plateau and into Grand Canyon National Park was a spectacular mix of green needles and yellow leaves. This is a wonderful place in the mountains. We're over 8,000 feet and they receive 26 inches of moisture a year here—providing the moisture the ponderosa's need..

After we set up our trailer, we realized we were about 100 yards from an overlook on part of the Grand Canyon. It is called the Transept Canyon. We walked the 1.25 mile trail along the canyon to the Grand Canyon Lodge and Visitor Center. The lodge is rustic and beautiful with a drop-dead view of the Grand Canyon.

The next day, we were up early and left the RV at about 6:15 am to watch the sunrise at Bright Angel Point, a viewpoint south of the lodge. It was cold and breezy as we joined 10-20 other visitors to watch the sun come up. Sunrise over the canyon isn't all that special. And we discovered pollution makes viewing the canyon somewhat difficult. After taking maybe 150 photos, we had breakfast at the lodge; we returned to the RV and prepared for a day of photography.

The sky was clear and a deep blue, the aspen a deep shade of gold, with red and orange mixed in. Visiting Point Imperial, Cape Royal and numerous overlooks in between, we captured umpteen views of the canyon. While bemoaning the haze and pollution, there is no denying the Grand Canyon is still one of the premier natural wonders of the world. And we were there at perhaps the most beautiful time of the year, with all the fall color.

The following day we awoke to cloudy skies and wind. How grateful we were for all the photo opportunities of the day before. Leaf peepers got a real treat on the Kaibab Plateau this week. We decided to take the day off and relaxed in the RV. It was such a peaceful day.

By Friday the weather report included a high wind warning, especially hazardous to high profile vehicles. We were glad it wasn't a travel day. We didn't have to leave till Saturday. Under partly cloudy skies, we hiked the Transept Trail to the lodge, then went on to Bright Angel point, taking many photos along the way. The light on the Canyon was different from earlier in the week and the picture taking rewarding.

Our hike took us through the Ponderosa Pine forest and we worried some about the danger of trees coming down in the high wind. Sustained winds of 25-35 mph were predicted, with gusts from 35 to 57 mpg. We made it back to the RV safely and hadn't noticed any really bad wind gusts. But as I prepared dinner, the wind direction changed and it was much noisier. All of a sudden, we saw that a dead tree across the road had broken about 3 feet above the ground and fallen. The 3-foot diameter downed tree wasn't more than 20 feet from a tent that had just been erected. What a scary event for those campers. How fortunate they hadn't placed their tent about 20 feet further east!

We have loved our visit to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. This part of the National Park is much less crowded than the South Rim. We are here at the end of the season—the Lodge, campground and stores all close after October 15. But right now everything is fully booked. Soon the road will be closed by snow till about May 2008. October at 8000 feet is beautiful and very iffy where the weather is concerned. We are boon docking here and look forward to lower altitudes and full hookups in Flagstaff.

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