We left the Valley late Friday afternoon and stayed the night at the Cliff Dwellers... once we found our room as it was after hours. The next morning we had a nice breakfast outside with some of the best cooked bacon I've ever had. The drive toward the Rim is beautiful as you travel just below the colorful Vermillion Cliffs. Once on the Rim, in one area, we were surprised by the 6 mile long burn area alongside the road. Come to find out (no thx to the ranger at the Park bookstore) the Warm Fire occurred on June 25, 2006 (contained July 4), when sudden high winds turned a closely watched, lightning-ignited fire (WFU) of June 8th into an inferno, setting the crown of the forest alight. About 30% of the total fire area of 58,000 acres had high burn severity.
Soon after getting through the burn, you come across the soft-looking meadow lands that flank the sides of the road. Finally we arrived at the North Rim Lodge to pick up Tracy. She had been up there for 3 days working
with VOAz. I rubbed noses with Brighty, we stopped at the gift shop and bookstore and then headed for the N Kaibab TH around 11:30 to wait for the R2Rers to finish the first 1/2 of their R2R2R.
After giving 7 successful
R2Rers their gear on Saturday afternoon, getting settled at one of the cabins, a sunset photo session and a late dinner we turned in. The girls went to hike on Sunday while the R2R2Rers rested up for the last leg of their R2R2R. We started at 9AM with our brochure in hand for the 14 points of interest. The hike starts up out of the meadow and eventually hits the Rim area where you can see the light so to speak.
The points of interest were nice but you can miss the markers as they are down in some places. I highly encourage you to take all the little side detours out to the edge of the canyon as it's quite impressive. Having Ambika along was like having an NPS ranger/guide as she was able to explain the layers and point them out as well as various landmarks. It's so nice to get a better grip on the Grand Canyon layers and to get a better sense of where some of you hike.... including my first trip in mid-November.
There are about 6 switchbacks as you make your way back into the forest, through the meadows and back up on the Rim to view Widforss Point. We had our lunch at the picnic table before heading out to the viewpoint. It was so nice to have a picnic table even though it was a bit rickety, it still does the job. After a nice lunch we headed out to the point that I thought might be anti-climatic but pleasantly, it wasn't. The views are quite spectacular and certainly worth the moderately easy hike to see.
As we made our way back off the viewpoint, Ambika checked the temperature gadget she had and it said it was 88.... a little warm for this time of year to be sure. On our way back I knew I might have to kick it in gear
to keep up. The girls pushed me but because I knew the up portion parts of the switchbacks were relatively short, I didn't get too far behind; that is until I stopped to take a couple pictures
. I did limit my picture taking on the way back. The light out in the Canyon was much better by this time. We didn't stop at all the view points like we had on the way to the Widforss Point lookout.
It's a great hike and the kind I like where you go in and out of various eco-environments. We also saw one of those large N Kaibab squirrels. We were back to the TH by 3 and got back to the cabin in time to take our showers and get ready for the 5:15 group dinner at the Lodge. Very early the next morning, Tracy got up to run the 2 groups of R2R2Rers for their start times Monday morning at 3:20 and 3:45 AM. These guys are something else. They hardly had enough time to recover from Saturday but persevered again to head back to the South Rim. All I can say is amAZing.
We on the other hand, slept in, had a nice breakfast, did some morning photography along the Bright Angel Viewpoint Trail, packed up the gear and headed out for Point Imperial, Roosevelt Point, Cape Royal and our little R2R2R
of a little more than 834 feet one way at the Navajo Bridge over Marble Canyon above the Colorado River (other than the bridge at Page, this is the only roadway crossing of the river and the Grand Canyon for 600 miles).
Oops, here's the short video of the view: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=msCZ6BCKEzQ