New State: Arizona
The drive from Canyonlands to the Grand Canyon went through Monument Valley, where we didn’t see many “monuments.”
We went back up to Page and checked in at the campground at Lake Powell. Turns out, it’s a national park, with a well-above-average-for-a-national-park RV facility.
But before that … we found a carwash in Page and gave the Wegwam a good bath, and when we got up the next morning in the campground gave it a thorough cleaning inside.
Otherwise, we didn’t have a whole lot of time to take advantage of Lake Powell; Rebecca still wants to rent a houseboat on the lake for a few days, some day. We did avail ourselves of access to the hot tub at the “resort” in the park, to which our campground stay entitled us; and Rebecca did go for a quick dip in the lake.
The road to the Grand Canyon from Page hasn’t changed much since we were there last (two years ago?). They’re doing some serious road building in Cameron, the turn off point for the Canyon.
The Grand Canyon itself is still Grand.
The weather was excellent, not too hot in the daytime and not too hot at night. On our first afternoon, we tooled around on the bikes a bit, riding out along the road toward Hermit’s Rest which is closed to cars. We parked the bikes and walked for close to a mile, then determined to return the next day to take the shuttle out to Hermit’s Rest and walk the rim trail all the way back, a hike of around seven miles.
There’s an interesting geological education feature along the paved portion of the rim trail. There are brass markers that mark off every 10 million years, with markers to demonstrate the various times at which different things occurred, like the formation of the first rock in the canyon, and various other events like (one assumes, we didn’t follow the entire trail) the steps of the formation of the canyon itself.
Grand Canyon, property of the U.S. Government, puts the age of the earth at 4.56 billion years. It would be interesting to ask the various Presidential contenders how old they think the earth is. Any who suggest the earth is only 4,000 years old should be asked, in follow up, if they would remove that geological timeline from the Grand Canyon rim trail.
It’s actually a pretty daunting concept. The Blue Ridge was formed something on the order of 250 million years ago. It’s eroded from the Brush Mountains back to Sheets Gap Overlook over the course of those 250 million years (probably give or take a few tens of millions of years). Just for grins, suppose that’s 20 miles of erosion in 200 million years (for arithmetic simplicity’s sake). That comes to one mile every 20 million years, or one foot every 3787 years. Or one inch every 315 years.
That’s really, really slow.
Erosion from paved surface areas occurs much more quickly than that.
But back to the canyon. We did in fact hike the rim trail from Hermit’s Rest to the Bright Angel Lodge, and it was well worth the effort. It’s along the rim the whole way, and at walking pace you really get to see a lot of the canyon (when you’re not looking at your feet while walking the edge of the Abyss, the sheerest walls of the canyon in the park). Oops.
There are a lot of parking lot elk in the Grand Canyon. The cows were congregating on the rim trail at one point, forcing us to detour into the road.
For our last day in the canyon we hiked down Bright Angel Trail to the three-mile rest house. Not a particularly taxing venture, especially compared to the couple we talked to who intended to hike rim-to-rim in one day, let alone their friends, who were planning to hike South Rim to North Rim and back in a single day, some 50 miles, with over 11,000 feet in elevation change. Makes the 2,100 feet we went down and back up sound like a flat stroll.
We left the Grand Canyon and drove to Phoenix, where we are holed up on the top (eighteenth) floor of the Westin Hotel. Rebecca is meeting with a committee from the National Association of Counties, while I take advantage of WIRED internet to catch up on the blogging.
To catch you up, we’ve been on the road for 96 days and covered 12,487 miles (not counting the 3300 miles from the first attempt).
One never knows what kind of internet will be available from here, although there is less uncertainty than there was in, say, Watson Lake, Yukon. Actually, we had pretty good cell coverage throughout the trip; much better than expected.
Our itinerary from here may include stops in Tucson, Santa Fe, Carlsbad Caverns, Big Bend, and San Antonio. From there it could be a bit of a zig zag as we try to hit two of Rebecca’s last states, Oklahoma and Arkansas, thence back south into Mississippi and Louisiana before turning for home. There still could be several stops along that way as well. Stay tuned.