Wednesday, May 14, 2014
The sun was setting in the far west as we arrived at Desert View, the easternmost edge of the Grand Canyon. Jim and I sat silently on a ponderosa pine bench in a small amphitheater, silent because there were no words. We contemplated the enormity of God’s handiwork and yet could not wrap our heads around the vast changing formations as the shadows were creeping into the abyss before us. We both said later we felt a feeling of incredible fullness and speechless awe as we watched the colors of the Painted Desert bleed into the colors of the Grand Canyon. Two-dimensional photos cannot approach revealing the details of the Grand Canyon and neither can any verbal description.
The following morning we rose to hike the Rim Trail westward with the sunrise. We hiked every trailhead and greenway, watching the sun light each peak until we came to Hermits Rest, the westernmost edge of the park-owned canyon. It, like the Puebloan reproduction of a watchtower at Desert View, was designed to melt into the side of the canyon and used as a lodging for wealthy tourists in the early 1900s to avoid the toll on Bright Angel Trail. Everything beyond Hermits Rest belongs to Native Americans and is accessible only by permit. The Colorado River one mile below the rim runs 277 miles from Lake Powell to Lake Mead. The canyon is 10-miles wide. Two-thirds of the canyon is reached by shuttle since private transportation is not allowed. Many visitors hike to the bottom of the canyon and back, not recommended as a day hike, or they raft the river, or they bike the greenway. We, however, ended our day with a fine-dining experience at El Tovar, the nicest lodging in the park and retired very early, exhausted with the exercise, the difficulty breathing at 7,000 feet and the effect of a little wine at such an altitude. On our third day, we visited museums, gift shops, visitor centers and ranger programs and ate at Bright Angel Lodge. We are both impressed with how organized and accessible so much information is, in museums, many varied ranger programs, signage around the park, tour guides. It is fortunate we had booked four nights and five days because I’m not sure you could do this spectacular place justice in any shorter time. The IMAX intro movie said there was no place else on earth where one can see and analyze the history of the earth as one can here. Again, there seem to be more foreign-speaking visitors than English-speaking. We started our week comfortable in shirtsleeves and ended with high winds and snow. How changeable is the weather here! We wish for our three children, their spouses and the grandchildren to all be able to experience this eighth wonder of the world in a lengthy, in-depth visit someday. And for all my readers, I recommend the same for you.