” Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.” – Rumi

Nonetheless, I wish we’d have gotten here sooner.


Grand Canyon pt2

I wasn’t going to bother, but some of these photos are so beautiful, I just had to post them! These were taken with my dad’s camera.

Grand Canyon!

My father has become a mountain man in recent years. He’s taken up biking, kayaking, and hiking. He climbed Sandia Peak in New Mexico and Crystal Peak in Mt. Rainier National Park. He decided to take on the Grand Canyon, and I accompanied him (I’m his only child that will go on these adventures). We did a few local hikes in preparation, and he bought fancy, new shock-absorbing poles. We stocked up on Clif Shot Blocks, and I borrowed Barry’s Camelback, and we headed to the canyon!

We arrived around sunset the night before the day hike, and it was pretty breathtaking to watch the sun set and see the way the quickly-changing light made the canyon look. It got very cold without the sun, and there was snow all around. Most of these are taken from the observatory area on the South Rim.

The main event was a day hike on the South Kaibab Trail. We went through the Wildland Trekking Company and got a guide, since neither of us had been there, and we really weren’t sure how our physical fitness and skill levels matched up to all the trail and distance options. I think we would have been fine without him, but having him along was great. He told us stories, pointed out different types and ages of rocks, wildlife, and other features, and he was very responsive to our pace at every point along the way. He fed us lunch at the 2,000-foot-down mark, at Skeleton Point. It’s named that because a team of mules fell off the trail, and near that area, you can get off the trail a bit and see their skeletons. There were all kinds of scary names – Devil’s Corkscrew, Cremation Canyon (so named because the native Americans used to burn their dead, and that’s where the ashes blew on the wind). The trail itself was 4 to 6 feet wide, fairly smooth, with stair steps, and parts of it are being worked on through ARRA/stimulus funds. The parts that had already been resurfaced were much easier to walk on. Dad’s camera had better pictures, but these are the iPhone again.

These are on the way down. It was a beautiful, blue, clear, sunny day. The temperature stayed about between 50 and 65. We started out about 8:30 a.m.

The green valley here is Cremation Canyon. I felt like I was in Narnia!

It’s ten miles from where we started (far behind us) across to the other rim. Some of the ridges in the photo above are parts of the trail – lots of switchbacks.

Mule prints!

This was 2,000 feet down, where we had lunch around noon.

The way back up was definitely harder. On the way down, toward the end, my legs were starting to feel a little wobbly, just because it’s the same action over and over again on muscles that don’t really get that a lot. Going up, the backs of our thighs were getting worked, and some parts were pretty steep. We stopped quite a bit, but hey, why not? There’s a view to keep you entertained while you catch your breath.

The mules on this trail were all work animals, no tourist-carriers. Our guide told us a horrible story of a woman falling over the side on a mule that makes me think I’d rather take my chances on my own legs.

I like this one because it shows how massive this thing is. Dad looks tiny, and he was only 30 feet from me. That’s a 10-mile span across to the other rim – hard to understand how gigantic everything really is.

The way back up was hard – but our guide had frozen Gatorade that had partly melted, and we had our shot blocks, which are pretty much jell-o versions of a sports drink solidified into small cubes. We sat down a lot and enjoyed the view.

There’s a composting toilet halfway down, at about 1,000 feet, and there’s a mule hitching post. It was a pretty neat thing to stop to catch your breath and look back and see how much ground you covered, and how things look different every time.

This scrappy squirrel had one eye, and he was not at all afraid of people. He almost got this can of nuts out of some girl’s bag. I poked him with my pole, and it didn’t deter him at all! Apparently there are two types of squirrel in the canyon. They used to be the same squirrel before the river came through millions of years ago, and after that, they were separated on opposite sides of the canyon, and they evolved differently according to the conditions on each side. Fascinating.

This is the “chimney” where we entered and exited the canyon. The trail switches back and forth, back and forth, all the way up. We hiked up over melted snow mixed with mule poop. Not pleasant. It was like a tiny, poop-scented creek running at your feet!

The second day, we drove to the east and found a trail called Grandview that looked like a lot of fun – it’s a less-maintained one where you have to climb over giant rocks and over fallen trees. This is down a few feet from the trailhead. Dad has some better photos on his camera, but I think the iPhone did a respectable job! I was humbled by the sheer massiveness of the Grand Canyon, and I’m very thankful to get to see a Natural Wonder of the World. Dad and I had a great time, and we’re planning on going back. We may practice a bit more beforehand next time!

Hoover Dam

Dad and I recently met at the Vegas airport and drove to the Grand Canyon. The plan was to drive back to Vegas for the weekend after hiking, so we made a little road trip of it and included the Hoover Dam on the drive to Arizona. My camera broke about 2 minutes from the dam – talk about bad timing! The lens just stuck out and wouldn’t retract. I can get it fixed, but it’s so old that I’ll probably just take the opportunity to buy a new one. Anyway, these are iPhone pictures, and I was surprised by the quality. They really capture the colors well, which I wasn’t expecting. The river water was a beautiful blue-green, and the dam itself was vertigo-inducing! It’s very a very steep and sheer drop down to the bottom.

This is a bridge they’re building over the river – there were workers with safety ropes climbing it as we passed. You can see them in the second photo. I can’t imagine that being my job!!

We had fun seeing such a famous landmark! The mountains in that area are beautiful to drive through!