I’m going to skip the morning routine mumbo jumbo for this post and focus on giving a brief run down of the day. Of course I didn’t sleep well and of course I had some coffee first thing. I’m at the GRAND CANYON baby, it was time to sight see and point my camera right down into the massive hole in the ground just like millions of other tourists have done before me. Maybe just maybe, if I was lucky, I could pull off a bit of originality in one of my pics.
A few days ago, when I arrived at the park, I wizzed by most of the pull-offs on my way to Mather campground. That left me with plenty to do in one day. Twenty five miles worth of overlooks is quite a bit of stop and go. First I backtracked to the desert view overlook, which is the first one you come to when entering the park from the east. The plan was to start there and hit everyone on my way back to the campground. I visited desert view already, but didn’t take the time to soak it all in. Now was my chance. Desert View overlook also has a small gift shop, fuel station, (with 24 hr pumps), lookout tower, and cafe. I strolled in to grab a coffee and warm up from the 40 something degree ride. The lookout tower has a few coin operated telescopes on the top floor for a better view of the surrounding canyon. I checked out the high perch for a bit before making my way outside to get a more realistic view. As I headed back to the Goose after my first stop, I ran into a French fellow that I saw at the Bright Angle Lodge the night before. He recognized me and was surprised to see that I was riding a streetbike in this weather. It was his first time visiting the USA and he was taking a few weeks to see some of the bigger sites in the country. Right after I finished talking to him another French speaking guy, this time from Quebec Canada, came over to talk bikes with me. Neither one of the guys spoke English very well and it was quite interesting to experience their accents back to back like that. Both guys were also very friendly which, for me, eliminated the stereotypical idea that all French guys are stuck up. I was glad to meet a few more friendly foreigners. Speaking of the Euros, they have taken over the park. I’m hearing about 1 English accent to 10 European accents. I think they are in the know about the least crowded time to visit the GC or perhaps they are more hardy.
One of my goals for the day was to really get to know my new camera. It has more features than the Grand Canyon itself. Is there a better place to take a gazillion pictures for practice than the Grand Canyon? I doubt it. By the end of the twenty five miles worth of overlooks and a few hundred, half sketchy pics later, I had a decent grasp on what my camera was capable of and how to get better pics than the automatic features would allow. It’s all about the light and there are three main ways to add more light or dim the light. That’s what I figured out. Many of the automatic settings allow way to much light in the pics and they come out way brighter than what my eyes are actually seeing. I’m still no expert though. The rest of the day was spent bouncing around the park buildings and keeping warm until I made my way back to the tent.
I’m writing day 83 before it is even over. I don’t usually do that, but I wanted to put a bunch of Grand Canyon pics in one post because I believe I’ll be heading out a bit earlier than I planned. I don’t think this will be the last time seeing the Grand Canyon on this trip. It will be the last time seeing the section that is owned by the park service though.
Today I planned to hike several miles down into the Canyon via the most remote park trail, the Hermit Rest trail. I started my day a little earlier than normal and headed to the visitors center for a map and skipped a morning shower. I’ll do that later. Going dirty tree hugging hippy style today. At least my hair won’t get messed up. Anyway, some of the park staff at the visitors center talked me out of doing the whole hike by myself in one day. They warned of ice and fatigue, like I’ve never experienced before. I listened thoroughly and adjusted my plans for a shorter hike. I gave myself a one hour decent and I was planning on a two hour climb back out. Oddly enough, I climbed back out in almost the exact amount of time that it took me to hike into the canyon. If I would have known that these metal legs could do so well, I would’ve went further. (for those who don’t know, I have a metal rod in my left femur and one in my right tibia, gotta love MX) Honestly though, without a hiking partner and proper experience in terrain this steep, one could get themselves in a whole heap of trouble. Not to mention, it is definitely mountain lion country. Signs warn you along the trail, not to hike alone, and they tell stories of fatalities and state statistics about how often people have to be rescued on the GC trails. I noticed a few people hauling ass down the trail and only to see them gasping for air on their way back up. They must not have read the signs. I took a few breaks and enjoyed the scenery. Once my hike was over, I hit the dozen or so overlooks on the way back to the village, had lunch and created this post.
(side story- On the way to Hermits Rest, I was following two cars when we ran across a large herd of elk. The cars stopped to take pics, but I felt the elk were way to close to the Goose and I. I revved my engine a few times and sent them running. One of the ladies from the car said “Why did you scare them off?” (in a pissy British tone). I said “One of those things could charge my bike and flatten me. You’re not the one sitting on the bike mam.”) She was in the safety of her enclosed car and had no chance of getting stampeded.