The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is at 7000ft elevation. The weather was as perfect as it possibly could have been for hiking, but the thinner atmosphere meant that temps dropped below freezing at night and then warmed back up when the sun rose. It was strong, high-altitude sunshine, so even though the official high said 60º in the shade, it felt like 75º in direct sunlight. Wearing layers was key. That first day at the Canyon was when I realized that early October is a much better time time to visit than December: we would have been freezing our behinds off if we’d stuck to the original plan!
Sunday afternoon we met up with the other group members that wanted to hike along the Rim Trail east of the Village. Despite the altitude and not having slept much for the past two nights, the kids and I were bouncy with energy and eager to keep moving.
Once Elizabeth got past her initial amazement at the sheer enormity of the thing, she quickly transitioned to finding places where there was no railing or barrier between the trail and the abyss, and then finding a rocky outcropping to stand on where a fall would mean certain death, and then going out and standing on it, thusly:
I still haven’t decided whether I’m a bad parent for allowing this, or a good parent for encouraging her to live life to the fullest. Twenty years from now I’ll know which one it was, I suppose.
Luke found the Canyon actively intimidating. He was fine as long as there was a nice sturdy railing or wall between himself and the drop, but he wanted nothing to do with the unshielded outcroppings. I actually have very few pictures of Luke near the rim, and in the ones I do have he’s either on the safe side of a railing or wall (and if the wall is too low he still looks uncomfortable)…
…or there’s no barrier and I have a casual death grip on him to keep him in the photo.
Anyway. After the hike on Sunday we checked into our rooms to clean up for dinner. The group had reservations in the Arizona Room at Bright Angel Lodge, but it (and every other restaurant in the Village) was so crowded that we ended up waiting for an hour in the bitterly cold dark before our table was ready. The food was good though, and the portions were so huge that the kids and I took half our meals back to our room with us and had them for breakfast the next morning. And as we walked back to Maswik Lodge that night a small herd of deer walked fearlessly past us to graze on the Bright Angel lawns. I wish I’d had my camera with me, but I hadn’t brought it to the restaurant.
Again, some of us were ready for bed earlier than others. The kids and I were sound asleep by the time our roommate returned. This time I was so tired that I woke up briefly when she came in and immediately went back to sleep. But at some point after that she actually woke me up on purpose to ask me something. I was so groggy I barely remember it, but (as I learned the next morning) apparently she had become separated from the people she was walking back to the Lodge with, and while she was alone she had come across an elk, and the experience had unnerved her, and she felt the need to recenter herself with some Buddhist chants, and APPARENTLY I told her that would be fine. So, yeah. Chanting. In the wee hours of the morning. Even Elizabeth couldn’t sleep through that. It seemed to go on for hours, although it was probably more like thirty minutes. When she finally stopped and went to bed I fell asleep so fast that I never even heard the snoring, but apparently Luke wasn’t so fortunate: once again he didn’t get much sleep.
To describe Luke as “surly” the next morning would be a considerable understatement. As ordered, he did not say anything to our roommate, but once we were away from her and out with the group members who were hiking with us that day he complained bitterly about every little thing, and the unfairness of life in general. For the first hour or so he was just not much fun to be around.
But. Monday’s hike turned out to be insanely fun. We were following the Rim Trail to the west this time, which was woodsier and less populated, and led to a series of breathtaking vistas. Even poor sleep-deprived Luke eventually recovered his good spirits in the evergreen-scented air, and he fell in with a younger boy from our group who also liked to keep a healthy distance from steep drops. They kept each other company, while Elizabeth and I spent the day terrifying each other by walking out onto increasing dangerous rocky outcroppings.
The West Rim Trail also offered wonderful views of the Village.
And this is getting pretty long, so I think I’ll stop here and continue tomorrow. Stay tuned!