The Grand Canyon is one of the top places to visit in America so it seemed like the obvious choice for us to go on this journey and explore why this American wonder is so popular. It has been featured in many movies and TV shows and has always been something that has alluded me, so will it live up to our expectations or leave us with a feeling of tired disappointment? We started in Flagstaff and continued on, North Rim to South Rim, with a couple of nights at Phantom Ranch in between:
We parked at the South Rim, took a shuttle across the Navajo Reservation, and spent the first night at the North Rim. The lodge is fantastic in every western way; made of old wood beams and rock, it is a marvel of architecture and history. It sits on the lip of the rim. We arrived in time to watch the sunlight drain from the sky, the moon climb, and lights on the other side of the canyon twinkle as dusk faded into night. The North Rim lodge has far fewer visitors and is a good bit higher in altitude than the South. It is fairly hard to get to, unless you are dropping in by helicopter from Las Vegas. The 4.5 hour drive was mostly desolate reservation, with red cliffs and sage green hills. As we crept closer to the rim, climbing in altitude, the horizon changed from dust to juniper to pinon pine and aspens — which were yellow and rust orange, ready to shed their leaves to cooler weather. The aspens stood out like show girls, waving all their color and sass on an otherwise green hillside.
After a cold first night in bunk beds, nestled in a log cabin, we started the hike off the North Rim. In darkness, we used headlamps for the first 30 minutes as we descended with our group down the path. The early morning light danced on the canyon walls, and we watched with true awe as the colors changed before us, shifting like crayons in the box of 64. The sky from indigo to azure. The rock walls from forest green to sienna and amber. The dirt beneath our feet changing too. In places dusty red, and in other sandy and silty — with puddles, toads and moss.
The first day was a little more than 14 miles — longer than I’ve ever gone with a pack and poles. It was a long, delightful journey and my feet were so very happy to arrive at Phantom Ranch.