Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Grand Canyon - South Rim revisited

We arrived at the eastern entrance to the South Rim about 5pm. I showed my Seniors Pass and we did not have to pay the $25 per car to get in. Entrance was free for us. You do have to show your id along with the pass. Marianne was about to get her first glimpse of the Grand Canyon from ground level.

So we are now well to the east of the Visitor Center at the South Rim. This is the Watch Tower at Desert View. It's possible to go into and climb the tower but we skipped doing that. My feet hurt.

Unfortunately the Canyon was very hazy in the late afternoon sun. Probably some of the haze came from the large bush fires.

It still is a magnificent sight, even with the haze. We headed down to the Market Place where we checked in to the nearby Yavapai Lodge. back in February, I had managed to reserve the last available room for that night anywhere at the South Rim. Just lucky, I suppose.

We took a shuttle bus over to the head of the Bright Angel Trail to see the sun go down.

However, we missed the sunset by a few minutes.

Two days before, I had been down there and some of the members of our party were out there at Plateau Point looking at the Condors at sunset.

The lights at Kolb Studio that I could see down at Indian Gardens.

Some day trippers ascending out of the canyon at dusk.

We did not feel like a huge meal so we took the shuttle bus back to the Marketplace. The journey west has very few stops and is quite fast. The journey back east on the shuttle bus winds all over the place with many stops. It seems to take forever. Unfortunately the bus was very full and some of the passengers were very loud. Marianne started to get a headache and feel sick. I suspect part of it was altitude sickness.

Dinner at the Marketplace was adequate, but I wouldn't recommend it. At least the dining area had plenty of tables and was not crowded.

Next morning, Marianne was feeling better but I walked back to the Marketplace by myself. There is a pathway that you can use, but for some unknown reason it is unlit at night. Take a torch (flashlight) if you will be at the South Rim at night. You will need it.

We waited at the bus shelter and eventually one of the free buses that circulates every 15 minutes or so came along and took us to the Vistors Center.

It was a much nicer day and the air was a good deal more clear than the prior evening.

So there it all was again. For Marianne's benefit, I pointed out the canyon on the north rim which I had walked down. It's in the center top of the photo.

These reminded us of the Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney.

It was still relatively early and so there were not too many people about. We continued to walk west along the rim trail.

If you suffer from vertigo, this is not where you want to be.

You can see the white layer of the vertical Coconino layer on the far side of the canyon.

At various points you catch brief glimpses of the Colorado River. This was the canyon which I had climbed on the Bright Angel trail.

People throw coins into the canyon. Birds are attracted by the glinting in the sunlight and eat the coins which subsequently poison them.

Deserted lookout. A few hours later and it would be crammed. 

Some kind couple took our photo. Marianne now has proof she has been there.

Every few yards, the view changes.

The trees are fascinating.

It was just delightful strolling along with the temperature in the 60's. At times we had the path to our selves.

Right in the center of the photo you can see a patch of white which is the beach by the Colorado where I had sat a few days before. You can click on the photo to enlarge it.

Chilling out.

The path to Plateau Point.

The Corkscrew path that I had climbed. Once you see that view, you realize just what a climb it is.

More of the path. I was glad to be up at the top and not climbing.

Periodically along the path, they have placed rocks from the various layers. The distance from the start represents the age of the rock in millions of years.

These are the oldest rocks which come from the bottom of the canyon.

Our last look at the Canyon. The green streak of vegetation in the middle of the photo is Indian Gardens.

The El Tovar Hotel, the grand old dame of hotels at the south rim.

Be prepared to book way in advance to get the end room with the view of the canyon from your balcony.

The lobby is something to behold.

So we waited at the bus stop near the train station. It was about 10:30 and the hordes of visitors were arriving. Our bus back to the hotel was absolutely packed but we eventually got there in time for checkout at 11am.

So the Grand Canyon adventure was finished, and yes, it was Grand.