Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Grand Canyon "Rim To Rim" Part 2 (Getting There)

We wake up early as the sun rises over the Nevada Desert...earlier than I prefer!  I probably got about 4 hours of sleep, but I figure I can sleep a bit in the car as we drive to the Grand Canyon's South Rim.  Pat grabs some coffee, and we throw our gear into the Toyota Camry rental car and head out.
We will be stopping briefly at the Hoover Dam, prior to making the 4+ hour drive to the Canyon.   It is way too early for me to eat anything so I gulp down some water and it isn't long before we are driving into the Hoover Dam complex.  It is about 6 am at this point and we are the only car/people I see!  We park and take a walk to the Dam, where we look down at the enormous mass of concrete from above....the same look millions of others have and will we stand next to the warnings painted on the cement next to us.

We spend about a half an hour, walking the roadway along the Dam and taking in the bridge that had just begun to be built during my last visit! (2010?)  As the sun crests the distant hills, we feel the obvious heat of the sun and we make our way back to the shelter of our air conditioned car!

 We hit the road, settling in for a long and relatively boring (geographically speaking) drive.  Dennis is driving so Pat and I are free to sleep, but we end up talking about family stuff...inquiries about things one of us may know about, family legends...and general catching up as it has been some time since we were together.
We do the typical fuel stops and grab travel food....Doritos, water, Granola Bars, Oreo Cookies...the usual. It isn't long before we close in on the Grand Canyon.  It is a bit strange because when you get near the entrance of the Grand Canyon, you don't see it.   It is not like a large body of water that you catch a glimpse of as you approach, or a mountain range that rises above ground level...easily seen in the distance.  It shouldn't be surprising since it is a "Canyon", ie...below ground level, but it is interesting in that you just expect to see something!

We wait in line for a bit, pay our fees and find the South Rim Visitors Center and Lodge. We check-in for our Shuttle that will take us to the North Rim and allow us to leave the Rental Car, so we can complete the hike North to South and start back to Vegas.
I walk out to the wall, where again, millions of visitors before me have stood in awe of the Grand view before them.  It is the first look at what we will be traversing and the scale of the hike now becomes more "real".  I hold up my cell phone and take a couple snapshots, hoping to capture some sense of the size/scale of the Grand Canyon.   It is so cliche' and so "beneath me" to photograph such a spectacular view with a mere cell phone camera!   OK, I am of the masses...I have joined the flock of sheeple!
First look at the Grand Canyon from the South Rim (Cell Cam Pic)
I figure that we will be back at the South Rim and I will have ample opportunity to capture some images using the DSLR I brought along for the hike both during the hike, as well as after the hike when we are back at the South Rim, hopefully enjoying a good dinner!
We grab a quick dogs and the like and we are soon boarding our air conditioned, 11 person van/shuttle.  We will be the only passengers, so plenty of room!  I figured I might be able to relax and get some sleep to make up for the general lack of sleep we have all experienced...I figured wrong.
It seems our driver, nice as he was, had aspirations of racing in the Indy 500!  He drove the large and rather cumbersome white van like it was a modern sports car!  Dennis looked back over his shoulder at me more than a couple times as we hurtled uncomfortably close to the edge of the winding asphalt , sometimes just inches from some 100-300 ft drop offs!  It was all I could do to resist the urge to say, "um...we are not in a hurry"!
We drove thru the Navajo lands that border the Grand Canyon and we passed homes and shops along the way.  I think about how sturdy and determined the Navajo people are to thrive in such a rugged and harsh environment.
4 hours later (30 minutes ahead of schedule) we arrive at the North Rim Village.  We thanked our driver (more for not killing us, than getting us there ahead of schedule!) and arranged for him to pick us up at 3:30 am the next morning, to drive us to the trail head some mile or so down the road.
We checked in/got the keys to our cabin for the night, claimed our respective bunks and then went to the nearby snack shop and grabbed some sandwiches for dinner.  

 We found a table on the patio overlooking the North Rim and settled in for a simple dinner as we enjoyed the view!

We were once again looking out over the expansive Canyon, but this time looking across and toward the South Rim, where we had had lunch just 4 hours earlier!  The sun was getting lower in the sky and we watched as the shadows in the Canyon steadily climbed upwards along the tall towering mesas.
It wasn't long before darkness fell and we retired to our cabin for the night. We we had decided to begin our hike at 3:30 am, to get some miles in before the Canyon heated up with the Arizona sunrise. 


Just before we were about to turn the lights out, Dennis is startled by a tiny, fast moving creature darting past him!  We figured it might have been a mouse...but soon discover it is a Chipmunk, likely looking for some free trail-mix or something!  It is amusing, but at the same time, none of us want to be awakened by a critter crawling over us in the middle of the night!
 We decided to secure our packs in the bathroom, as it was without holes in the floor and the door shut tight, unlike the cabin room we were sleeping in.  I also secured my hiking shoes in the bathroom, remembering a few times where a scorpion, spider, or snake had surprised me on some dark mornings in the distant past! (Think Army days)
We all agreed our little friend was welcome and we settled into what were verrrry comfortable and welcome bunks!
I had been dutifully taking ibuprofen for several days and as I dumped several pills into my hand, I dropped a couple on the floor.   I was careful to recover the dropped pills, as I observed our little friend lying comfortably on the couch across from my bunk.  I downed my "too many" pills and stuck my earplugs in to avoid the snoring of my brothers, who had already fallen asleep/begun snoring!
As I lay there thinking, like I always do, (I should be sleeping...ugh!) I couldn't  help but think that 24 hours prior, I had been in Tacoma!  Now here I am, 4 hours from starting the hike into/across, the Grand Canyon. 

1 comment:

  1. I have to admit, I'm anxious to see your next post I this series!!!