Let me continue documenting my trip Out West this past summer. Last blog post about the trip I’d been tossed from the shuttle bus system at the Grand Canyon. That meant I was doing more driving than necessary.
But I also didn’t do much hiking.
You may recall from my last post from Chaco Canyon that I’d developed dryness cracks on the balls of my feet. It had even happened on previous trips, but somehow I was too stupid to force myself to use the Flexitol I had with me to properly hydrate them until it was too late. So I had to wait for them to heal enough to do hikes. It didn’t help that at first I tried to ignore it. Then grains of sand would get into the cracks, make them worse, and then hurt like hell.
So, while I was waiting for the wheels to grind with the buses on letting me on them barefoot, I mainly drove around looking at the sights. Of course, most of the good sights are along the edge of the Grand Canyon.
So (long introduction, I know), here are some pictures and stories from the August 21-25 timeframe.
There was a fair bit of wildlife (read: elk) around, including a cow and two calves. The following picture was taken at the entrance to Mather Campground.
The picture is through the windshield of my car, hence the bug splats you have to look through.
On Desert View Drive (really close to the intersection with the South Entrance Road) were a couple of really young (but post-calf) elk. There was a convenient parking lot I could pull into, so I walked back towards them (but not too close!) for a few pictures.
Further down Desert View Drive there was a huge gaper’s block for a mighty stag, but I refused to contribute to the block and drove on by without a picture. (Geez, you’d think we were in Yellowstone . . .)
One of the things they really warn you about in the campgrounds is to keep your food in your car. Here are some of the rules:
Food: Store food and trash in your vehicle or hardsided containers. Hanging trash sacks from trees does not keep them out of the reach of ravens.
Trash: Deposit in the green dumpsters. Do not leave trash unattended—ravens and other animals will scatter it.
The following picture will give you an idea why they have those rules. (This was the campsite right next to mine one day.)
I also had ravens attack my foodless water jug when I wasn’t there. That taught me to lock up everything.
I even got attacked by nuthatches. When I left the rear gate of my car open while cooking, I had a pair of nuthatches try to get in while I was standing 6 feet away.
One afternoon I had quite a blast. When I was there (August) it was what they call monsoon season. Yes, it’s mostly a desert environment, but by late summer storms build up during the day. I was in my tent (changing my clothing) when a tree 30 feet away was struck by lightning. Yes, I felt it as a transient current went through me. Yoicks! Now that’s “earthing.”
It also shredded the top of the tree, which then rained down on my car (and the whole area).
You can see bark and other debris on my hood, and another streak of debris on my windshield brushed aside by my wipers.
But there were views. At the Grand Canyon there are always views. Here’s one of them along Desert View Drive, about 5 miles east of the Visitor Center (as the car drives).
That mesa in the center right of the picture is Lyell Butte.
To me, it’s always fun to look at a topo map and try to make it correspond to what I am seeing. So, here’s the topo map of the area.
[Click for the readable version.]
The overlook (living on the edge) is at the bottom middle and you can see Lyell Butte near the top right.
If you look directly behind Lyell Butte (in the photo, not the topo map) you can see an interesting-looking gap in the ridge. Here’s a close-up of that, highlighting Lyell Butte.
Again, a trip to the topo map tells us exactly what we are looking at.
[Again, click for the readable version.]
In this one I’ve identified the line of sight of the photo and we can see that the gap lies between The Howlands Butte and Angels Gate on the opposite side of the Colorado River.
Another location I had fun with was the overlook between the Vistor Center and Yaqui Point, which is where the trailhead for the South Kaibab Trail is. This was the location I’d been down twice before, and which I would be taking in a few days. If you know what to look for, you can see the South Kaibab Trail past Ooh-Aah Point.
Here’s the topo (click to enlarge!) with the overlook at the bottom. The road on the right heading north is the road that only buses are allowed on.
Here’s the longer view shot showing where Ooh-Aah Point (guess where it got the name) is located.
Yaqui Point itself is the end of the flat area on the right. And as you continue to the left from Ooh-Aah Point you can see O’Neill Butte below in the distance.
And how, you might ask, do I know that’s where Ooh-Aah Point is? Because on my full-scale picture (cropped, and hence, as the cheap cameras say, “digitally zoomed”), I can see the trail and the point.
[Again, click for the larger picture.]
It is pretty obvious in the middle- to lower-left. And you can also see the trail on the right as it comes up to Ooh-Aah Point.
By the way, there was a sad occurrence there about a month before I arrived. A woman, Colleen Burns, accidentally stepped of the edge there as she was moving aside for another hiker. Somehow she got her feet tangled up, slipped, and fell 400 feet to her death. See Woman Falls To Her Death Hours After Posting Grand Canyon Photo.
Here’s a broader view that shows the South Kaibab Trail from where it comes down from the edge on the right all the way to Ooh-Aah Point.
[Have you clicked yet? C’mon!]
Having trouble seeing the trail? Maybe this will help.
Again, the location of the trail shows up quite nicely (right through the middle, left to right between the two rock outcroppings) with a (cropped) full-resolution picture from my (good) camera.
So anyways, I had some fun for a few days doing the more standard touristy thing looking at the view over the edge.