Sunday, April 19, 2015

Day 8-Grand Canyon

It was hard to leave Sedona, the atmosphere was great, the views were gorgeous red rock and wooded mountains, the people were friendly, and the food was great. But we headed out and said "until next time, Sedona." The Grand Canyon was our next destination. Back my senior year of high school we took a family cross country trip, we planned to take the helicopter Grand Canyon tour and land and have lunch down in the canyon, we got in the air, saw the Hoover Dam, and had to turn around due to a knarly sandstorm. We never did make it back to the canyon. We hoped we would find a campground within the park to stay, though it was Saturday so I figured things would fill up fast. There was a KOA right off the exit about an hour away, and across from where we stopped for gas was a rundown Flintstones camping park. We stopped at the Mobil for gas, and I made a teriyaki chicken and rice Mountain House meal for us to share for lunch, I had never had that flavor and it was pretty good. Inside the gas station I mentioned to the man behind the counter that I was looking for campgrounds on the North rim, he laughed and said the North rim is still closed due to snow and is 6 hours away. Do you even know where you are going woman? Your headed for the South Rim he told me and said if you don't have a reservation yet the campgrounds are probably all full. He pulled out a map to show me what is in the park and where the campgrounds are located. I thanked him and headed out the door. We headed to the entrance of the park and the $25 fee was waved for the weekend to honor Earth Day, pretty awesome! We drove in and not to our surprise, the campgrounds were full. Guess we will drive 30 minutes back to the Flintstone Park and check it out. Once we got there it was like a step back in time, the cheesiest dump of a place; and it showed in it's only $12 a night price. We didn't have service here, I was kinda sketched out by the place so, we decided on the KOA 35 minutes back the way we came off the highway. We gave them a call, made our reservation, and headed back to the Grand Canyon. You would think with driving cross country, we wouldn't drive so many extra miles off route. Back in the park; we parked at the visitor center, jumped on the Orange line tour bus and got off at the first stop at the Kaibab Trailhead. The first glimpse of the Grand Canyon was breathtaking, like a surreal backdrop that couldn't possibly be real, a wonder for sure. We decided to take the trail and hike down. The trail in the beginning was a lot easier than the Appalachian Trail, it was graded and full of switchbacks. It was as though we were going down a spiral staircase, you could see the path below full of hikers. We got a late start with all of the morning confusion so it was now around 2:00pm. We saw day walkers, backpackers, hikers, all types of tourists. We worked our way further and further down into the canyon wondering where the bottom may be. My he walk down was a carefree easy walk, there were some steep and narrow parts but nothing my Crocs couldn't handle. A little slip here and there kept me on my toes. We reached a flat spot where restrooms were available, and people stopped for snacks and to rest. We decided that this would be a good spot to rest for a bit and take it all in, and then head back up. We sat for a good half hour or so just taking photos, eating a chewy bar, gazing off into the distance and people watching. There was a girl who wanted to do a headstand for a photo and instead of doing it one one large smooth rock, she decided to do it on the ground where all the little rocks were compiled together. That was interesting to watch, but she succeeded so props to her. When we decided to head on back up the trail I was quickly reminded of my life just 12 months ago. Being hot, not having a lot of water, hiking what seemed endlessly up, and full of exhaustion. I carried the backpack capturing sweat between it and my shirt with the camera in hand. We climbed until we got to the spiral staircase-like section in the dead of heat. When we hit that point, a cool breeze and shade were upon us. We saw a sign that warned hikers not to attempt to make it down to the river and back in one day, guess the backpackers were headed down to camp overnight. I'd love to come some time for a weekend and hike down and camp, that would be a pretty cool experience I bet. After we reached the rim we were spent, we went over to the street where the bus would be coming, and sat and waited. We sat on the bus in a half daze waiting to be brought back to our car. At the car, we decided to drive down the only road you can drive on with your own vehicle and see the canyon. We stopped at different viewpoints taking photos before we settled at the Grand Viewpoint for dinner. We parked, gathered the last two Redds and put them in water bottles, grabbed camping chairs, the stove, and two Mountain House meals. The area was full with people hiking down or just taking in the view. We found a perfect flat platform to plant our chairs and make dinner. Out of all of the restraunts we've eaten at, you couldn't quite ever get a view like that! Dinner was delicious I had pasta primavera and so was the Redds. We sat and enjoyed the view for awhile while everyone commented what a perfect spot we had for the sunset. The spot was perfect, but there was a lot of people in a smaller area, and the trees kind of blocked a large angle shot. We decided to go to a previous spot for the sunset, so we packed up our picnic and headed on our way. The sunset would be setting on the other side of the canyon so it wouldn't be directly in front of us, but I think I did a decent job at capturing the majestic sunset that evening. I was like a wild woman driving to one lookout, capturing some shots and driving off to the next viewpoint chasing the sun. We ended at a viewpoint by the car which was all paved for handicapped access. There was a bridge out to see some of the canyon, and this seating area made by the rock naturally there. My excitement and enthusiastic approach got me ahead of myself and in an instant I was on the ground. I rolled my ankle pretty bad and sat there rubbing it to make sure it wasn't sprained. Luckily it wasn't, and in a few minutes I'd be up and walking on it again taking photographs. What a bummer that would be to get injured on this epic journey! We stayed until nightfall and then journied an hour back to the KOA campground. After this adventure I will almost have as many KOA's under my belt as my grandparents! They love staying at them when they are on the road. As for tomorrow, the original plan was to spend a halfday at the canyon and then head 6 hours to Los Angeles. Since we hiked, and got sunset photos of the canyon I didn't see the need to drive back an hour unless we could get in a mule tour. We called on our way to the KOA but they were closed since it was around 7:30pm. They would be opening again in the morning at 7:00am, guess I'll be setting an alarm. On the website however, it says you can make a reservation up to a year in advanced, maybe we won't be riding mules down the Grand Canyon tomorrow.

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