I hope you enjoyed reading posts in my Birthday Week series. I promised that at the end of it I’d share the story of my trip to Grand Canyon. I took over 200 pictures, and then managed to cut down the number to 70, and then, I trimmed it to little under 57. It’s going to be hard to put them all in a blog post, so with a heavy heart, I picked 24. I hope you’ll enjoy them.
Our first plan for the visit to Grand Canyon was to wait until I was able to drive, so I could get us there, but with our life being busy, and the driving lessons not happening very often, I thought it could be a nice birthday gift for me.
We picked the last weekend of February because the weather was good enough (and the forecast for the beginning of March was snow, and then some more snow), and because winter season meant we’d be able to drive the Hermit’s Road which from March to November is closed to private vehicles. There’s a shuttle bus, and one can walk the trail, but we preferred to have a choice.
Since we live about an hour, maybe an hour and a half drive from the Canyon, we didn’t rush things in the morning. I was convinced that we’d drive there, be done with the sightseeing within an hour or two, and then would be back on our way home.
Oh, how wrong I was!
We arrived to the Grand Canyon National Park little after noon on Saturday, and we first made out way to the Grand Canyon Visitor Center and the first view point of our trip: Mather Point. Even though we visited almost in the dead of winter, it was hard to find a parking spot, but when we finally managed, we were rewarded by stunning views. The sun was still in the sky, but we could see the clouds slowly gathering: on Sunday it was supposed to be already snowing.
My first impression of the Grand Canyon? “Mesmerizing.” Followed closely by “impressive.” The rock structure is fascinating, and so are the colors. The longer one looks, the more interesting details appear: an odd-shaped rock, a cave, a creek connecting to the river. With little sunshine, we didn’t get to experience much of the color changes of the Canyon, but its color palette with rocks hue ranging from ivory through yellow to red still left the right impression.
Mather Point was quite busy, which made me grateful we didn’t decide to visit the Canyon in the summer time. The amount of tourists must be quite staggering when the season starts! Luckily enough, a short walk along the Rim Trail remedied the crowds, and even though we still met people, it felt much more serene.
Some places in the park have railings or marked paths, but in other places there’s little to prevent the thrill-seekers from getting to the very edge… We were quite moderate in our courage, and even though we stepped closer to have a better look down below, we didn’t risk getting off the marked paths to get to some spectacular places. With the snow still lying here and there, I didn’t want to risk. Believe me, there was no recovering from a slip there! So even though I thought “I could walk that path” more than once, a single glance on the ice sheets made me decide against it.
From Mather Point we drove through the Market Place and the Village that leave an impression more of yet another town hidden in the woods than the heart of tourism, and we entered the Hermit’s Road.
There were multiple view points along that road: Maricopa, Powell, Hopi, Mojave, The Abyss, Monument Creek Vista, Pima, and the final: the Hermit’s Rest. I believe we stopped at every single one, braving the low temperatures (35F/0C) and the wind to take more and more pictures. Many of the points offered similar angle or view, but as we progressed toward the Hermit’s Rest, we got to see Colorado River in the distance.
As a bonus, we got to see an elk by the road, and since there were no car around, Inq stopped to let me take a picture. Sadly, the elk was camera shy, so I didn’t manage a good shot, and we didn’t want to block the traffic… Little we knew that in less than an hour we’d approach a cluster of at least 9 cars, stopped both on the road and its shoulder, to take pictures of another elk. I was also on the lookout for the mountain lions (or cougars, as they’re also called), but I didn’t have high hopes of seeing one: after all, felines are nocturnal animals.
The next part of our journey was quite monotonous: we had to backtrack through the Hermit’s Road, and then through the Village and Plaza, to get to the Desert View Road.
The Desert View Road was longer (but also with less view points), and we intentionally left it for the end, as we didn’t have to go back: there was another exit from the Park, that could also save us some time traveling back home.
We made it to the Desert View around five which made us miss the chance of climbing the Desert View Watchtower (so if you’re ever around, make sure you get there before 4:30!), but we still got to see more of Colorado River, and “our” mountain in the distance: Humphrey’s Peak. At this stage, we were nearly frozen to the bone, so we hit the road and headed home.
View the full gallery (click on any picture to view them in the bigger size):
This post concludes Melfka’s Birthday Week. I hope you had fun reading all the entries. And if you missed any, here’s the list:
– Melfka’s Birthday Week Introduction
– Melfka’s Birthday Week: The Witch’s Black Cat
– Melfka’s Birthday Week: The Love of Earrings
– Melfka’s Birthday Week: The Writer’s Special Pen
– Melfka’s Birthday Week: The Dancing Klutz