"" Writer's Wanderings: The National Park Road Trip - Grand Canyon Day Two

Friday, October 24, 2014

The National Park Road Trip - Grand Canyon Day Two

The worst part of watching the sunrise is having to get up at the crack of dawn so we chose to sleep in the next morning at the Grand Canyon. It was nice staying right in Grand Canyon Village. There was no extended travel time and no matter where you stay, you are always close to a blue line village loop. We took the blue line shuttle to the yellow line shuttle to begin our day.

The yellow line goes all the way out to a place called Yaki Point but we chose to get off at the stop just before that. There was no trail leading from Yaki back toward the village. The stop we chose, South Kaibab Trailhead, gave you a choice of two directions to hike. One was the unpaved trail that went down into the floor of the Canyon and the other, a paved trail, went toward the Visitors Center. We did look at the trail that went down but what goes down must come up again if you want to return. There was no way either of us would choose to walk a mile UP so we chose the path more traveled.

It was one mile to the next stop, Pipe Creek Vista. When we arrived, we looked at each other, nodded and continued on. The next stretch was 1.4 miles and got us to Mather Point which is right by the Visitors Center. It was a good time to take a break and decide if we could continue on. 

While we were there we decided to catch the movie shown at the Center. It was a good explanation of the formation of the Canyon and some of the sights to see plus it gave us a chance to sit and relax a bit.

Once the movie was over we took inventory. Knees, feet, calves were still good so we continued on. From Mather Point to the Geology Museum was .7 miles and at that point, the Trail of Time began. It was fascinating. Along the trail, there are markers that represent the passage of time in the creation of the Canyon and samples of the types of rocks found in the Canyon and their ages. You could really see what kind of rocks were contributing the colors and textures of the Canyon.

As we hiked, we could hear a helicopter and we finally located it below us flying a scenic route in the Canyon. It eventually landed and we could see a small figure get out. Well, that was one way to get to the floor of the canyon and not have to climb a steep trail to get out. If only I didn't mind a helicopter ride. . . 

Two miles down the trail, we were once again at the El Tovar and ready to eat. We had enjoyed the Navajo Nachos so much the day before we decided to eat lunch at the lounge again. The mistake we made was each ordering something different instead of splitting one order. Our excuse? We were hungry. My brat came with big fries and Bob’s steak tenderloin chili was almost all meat. It was too much for either of us to finish but it was very good. And you couldn’t beat the view from our table on the porch.

Phantom Ranch Lodge-stopping place on rim to rim trail.
As we ate lunch we tried to remember whether or not the walk west from the village was uphill or downhill. We chose wrong. We should have taken the red line to Powell Point and walked back to the village from there. Instead we trekked uphill to Powell, stopping a lot to take pictures—a good excuse to catch our breath. The walk here gave us a good view of the village and of course another excuse to take a picture while we caught our breath again.

Grand Canyon Village
Reservations for dinner at the restaurant at El Tovar were made two days previously so we got a little better time, 5:15. By the time we got back on the shuttle from the end of our walk, we had just about time to shower and dress and make our reservation time. Our table wasn’t as close to the window as before but our dinner more than made up for that. After our big lunch neither of us was that hungry so we asked if we could split a dinner and our waiter was very gracious about it. We ordered the duck (a half duck) with orange sauce. It came with rice and beans and a variety of veggies. The waiter even split the entrĂ©e for us. It was perfect and tasted heavenly.

Our day so far had been very successful. We had finished hiking all 12+ miles of paved trails and enjoyed two wonderful meals. There was only one thing that would make it perfect. Pictures of the night sky.

I began to text my daughter-in-law, the photographer in the family, and she graciously gave me a starting point with suggestions for f-stops, shutter speed and ISO settings. Once I figured out how to set them all on the camera and put it on the tripod we were ready to try again to capture the night sky’s jewels.

We set up in a dark spot on the rim trail near the lodge and tried the first shot. I was so excited I almost jumped up and down. You don’t want to do that near the rim. 

We made a few more adjustments testing what worked best and managed several really good shots. The moon was bright enough that it lit the Canyon just enough to show in the pictures along with the stars. It would have been nice to capture the Milky Way but even to our eye, the moon was so bright that the MW got washed out. Still, I did it!! Success! Many thanks to my photographer daughter-in-law, Lori. Her patience was much appreciated and rewarded with the pictures I got. Take a look below.

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