Friday, 10 April 2015

The Grand Canyon and Navajo Country

Location: Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023, USA
The Grand Canyon is incredible.  It's mindblowingly huge and impossible to get your head around the scale and perspective.  On the evening we arrived we wandered down to the Visitor Centre and watched the little orientation film, my favourite quote of which was that the American explorer Joseph Christmas Ives who came upon the canyon in 1857 predicted that the "valueless" region would be "forever unvisited and undisturbed."  Don't ask him for your lottery numbers!

We headed back outside and to Mather Point to get our first glimpse of the canyon itself.  As the constant stream of traffic that had passed us was testament to it is a busy and popular place so we shared the view with dozens of other tourists, a lot of them with small angry dogs.  We wandered along the South Rim and tired from our day of riding headed back to camp to eat dinner and plan the next day's activities.  It was a very, very cold night and neither of us slept well.  As the average altitude on the South Rim is just below 7000 ft (nearly twice that of Snowdon) we shouldn't have been surprised that it would be cold, but it was really cold and the following night was forecast to be colder.  We awoke cold and stiff,but excited to get back to the canyon.

We had decided to get the free shuttle bus to the South Kaibab Trailhead and then 'hike' down to Cedar Ridge.  This was classed as 'difficult' in the Park newspaper and said it would take between 2-4 hours.  As inexperienced hikers and equipped with our Crocs and socks footwear we thought this was probably our limit and that we'd be on the slower end of the time scale.  It was great to get down below the rim as it helps to give a little perspective on the scale of this magnificent spectacle and we enjoyed the walk down, past 'Ooh Aah Point' and along Cedar Ridge.  The colours of the rocks, the moving shadows, the trees, the sky and the glimpsed Colorado River really does make for wonderful scenery and our photos do not do it any kind of justice.

The walk only took us just over 2 hours so we ambled back along the rim to the campsite and spent the afternoon doing laundry and planning our next days rides.  The forecast had said that it would get down to -5C so we bought a cheap fleece-lined sleeping bag to add to our bedding and wore almost all the clothes we have as we prepared for another cold night.  Our extra layers paid off and we had a better night's sleep and set off early the next morning so we had time to call in at Desert View for a last glimpse of the canyon before heading to Cameron and to the Navajo Nation Parks & Recreation Visitor Centre before it closed at 5pm so we could get our permit for camping in the Navajo Nation.

The long, sweeping downhill from Desert View towards Cameron was teeth-chatteringly, eye-wateringly, fist-clenchingly cold and despite riding in my tshirt, 2 long-sleeved merino tops, cotton shirt, down jacket and waterproof jacket I was shivering all the way down.  But the scenery was stunning and soon we were at low enough elevation to take off a few layers.  We cycled hard as although Arizona does not observe daylight savings, the Navajo nation does so we had effectively lost an hour.  We parted with $24 and were awarded a permit to wild camp between Cameron & The Gap with instructions to not go near residential areas or livestock.  It took us a little while, but we found a suitable spot, set up the tent and watched the sunset and moon rise over a beautiful desert landscape.

4 comments:

  1. Another great blog....keep those photo's coming they're fantastic...Mr P

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    1. We will Mr P, have you seen the photos tab?

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  2. Love that final photo, but until you blow it up it does look like Sophie's been caught short.

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    1. Ha ha, it does a bit. But no only cooking

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