Thursday, May 31, 2012

Kanab UT to North Rim Grand Canyon

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

We had a relaxing breakfast and spent about 45 minutes spending $500!  We made reservations for two nights camping at Wahweap Marina on Lake Powell near Page AZ;  a boat ride tour to Rainbow Bridge National Monument (50 miles by boat); and a hummer tour to the slot canyons near Page.  We have made few reservations and taken few tours but these were on our bucket list and the only way to see both is to take the tours. Well – you can hike to Rainbow Bridge over desert about 10 miles but the ride on Lake Powell should be pretty great itself.  The tours to the slot canyons are on Navaho land and can only be taken with guides.
The next few days arranged we headed towards the Grand Canyon. This will be our 3rd visit to the Grand Canyon. We visited the North Rim in 2000 and stayed in a cabin at Jacob Lake. This time we hope to stay at the campground in the park and if not there at a Forest Service Campground 8 miles back from the rim.  There are no reservations available and only 6 walk-up sites in the park – so chances are good we will be at the Forest Service Campground. 

The red rock continued for a few miles until we began climbing up the Kabib Plateau and wow what a view behind us – you could see forever.  I believe Kanab was about 4,000 ft elevation and we were climbing to nearly 9,000 at the North Rim.  The forest is various types of fir and pine interspersed with aspen. We were here before in October and the aspen were golden. The contrast with the dark green of the evergreens was breathtaking. The aspen now are just leafing out in a brilliant light green. The contrast while not quite as breathtaking as the golden was still quite beautiful. 
The contrast of Aspen and Evergreens
 At Jacob Lake you begin the 24+ mile journey south to the rim of the canyon. About half way the forest gives way to huge meadows edged with the evergreens and aspens. These meadows are peaceful and beautiful.  Then suddenly you come to the picnic areas, the cottages, the lodge, and then the canyon.  It is just as inspiring the 3rd time as the first.  While the canyon is beautiful from the south rim – the contrast of the beautiful green high meadows with the rainbow colors of the canyon is our favorite.

We parked, played tourist on the huge sun porch of the Lodge and viewed the canyon and those viewing it…an entire bus load of Chinese women arrived shortly after us and watching them was interesting.  Took a few photos but it is very sunny at noon so much too hard to take good photos of the canyon. We walked around the public areas of the lodge – they were making reservations for dinner tomorrow night at either 4:45 or 8:30 – prime time already gone!

We browsed around in the gift shop for a while and then drove back to the picnic areas and had a great lunch right along the rim of the canyon. A Western Jay – I think called Steller Jay – but not sure – joined us for lunch.

We drove out to Imperial Point – the highest point at the North Rim – 8,800 feet. Again we drove through evergreen and aspen forest. There had been a fire here in 2006 and the trees particularly the aspen are making a great comeback. The aspen trees that had been burned were standing tall – still white – dead trees. It was strange to see the stark white dead trees. The fire kills the trees but not the roots so this is the reason for the quick recovery.

Imperial Point was beautiful. It gave both a view to the northeast and southeast – the signs say the only place in the park for these views. We got some pretty good photos and enjoyed the views. Jane actually made it down to the edge for a photo. 

Then we drove back the 10 miles to the De Motte National Forest Campsites and claimed one for the night. This will be the second time on this trip without electricity. We have a gas stove and lantern so we will be fine. We save the power in the generator for blowing up the air mattress, keeping the refrigerator cold, and making the coffee!  Got our priorities straight!

We found a nice site. Ben put his hammock up between two aspen trees and took a nap. Jane read and might have taken a little nap too.  This campground is probably 1/3 full but as the season progresses is usually completely full.  The North Rim is 2,000 feet higher than the South Rim and does not even open until May 15 – so it has only been open 2 weeks!

We cooked dinner on the Coleman stove and then about 6:30 we drove back to the lodge and again sat on the huge porch – this time watching the colors changing as the sun moved lower and lower in the sky. Without the glare of the sun you could really enjoy the colors and the shadows across the canyon. This is indeed a spectacular place.

Driving back to camp in the dusk we saw lots of mule deer grazing in the meadows. Ben was watching closely for them in the road and one came close but did not hit us. We had to see at least 30 and probably more.Back at camp we geared up for a cool night. Supposed to be 39 so we will get some warm shirts and with our good sleeping bags we will be warm enough.

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