Have you been hanging out for us to reach the Grand Canyon? I guess I was too. Even though I grew up in the USA, I’d never been there. Poor John had had only a fleeting stop in the early 1970s when he travelled across the USA by bus.
So finally reaching the famous location in Arizona was a huge treat for both of us. We had two half days to explore, including an option for a helicopter ride (more about that amazing experience in another post).
I was intrigued to read that the canyon is a composite of countless gorges. In 1895, John Wesley Powell wrote that, ‘In the Grand Canyon there are thousands of gorges like that below Niagara Falls, and there are a thousand Yosemites. Yet all these canyons combine to form one grand canyon, the most sublime spectacle on earth.’
Wow, he got that right.
I never managed to get a sunset or sunrise pic like the one I used to introduce this trip. You can see that here. But I did manage to get a lot of great pics and learned a lot about the canyon itself (tourist information centres are wonderful places).
On our first day at the canyon, Poor John headed to the South Kaibab Trail and hiked as far as the Ooh Aah Point—a spot about one mile down the trail that offers a dramatic panoramic view of the eastern canyon. Sorry no photos from there. He doesn’t carry a camera or a phone! But he says the view is amazing.
Getting to the Ooh Aah Point is not an especially strenuous hike—the trail gets much harder past that point—but it’s still a dangerous spot. Jordan, our guide/driver for the tour, said one of his colleagues saw a woman fall to her death from Ooh Aah.
My hip was still bothering me that first day (it’s completely recovered now), so I confined my adventures to seeing the sights on the rim.
Besides the fabulous views, I loved walking the Trail of Time, seeing some of the wildlife, and visiting the Yavapai Point Museum and the Kolb Studio.
The Trail of Time is a 4.56 kilometre-long (2.83 mile) geologic timeline. Each metre signifies one million years of the Grand Canyon’s geologic history. Walking the trail gives you an appreciation for the magnitude of geologic time. Bronze markers mark your location in time; every tenth marker is labeled in millions of year! The trail is lined with a series of rocks and exhibits that explain how the canyon and its rock formed.
At 1.840 million years of age, the Elves Chasm Gneiss (pronounced nice) is the oldest rock on display. My favourites were the Cremation Pegmatite and Bright Angel Shale, but that might be because of their names (in everyday life I’m Peggy Bright). They are 1.698 and 515 million years old, respectively.
I’m a sucker for wildlife and am quite content to stand for hours watching them. When I was there, squirrels were the most common critters on the rim, although there were a few deer and plenty of birds (the condors were too high up to photograph well, hence the pic of the info board).
There are plenty of signs warning people not to feed or approach the wildlife but, of course, there are always some knuckleheads who do. One fellow was nearly taken out by the deer standing near the info board, but I wasn’t quick enough to get a pic.
The Yavapai Point Museum claims to have one of the most fabulous views in the world. It’s an honest claim. In the 1920s, some of the most respected scientists gathered at the park to choose the best representative view of the Grand Canyon’s geology. And that’s where the museum sits. Exhibits explain formation of the rock layers, the uplift of the Colorado Plateau and the carving of the Grand Canyon.
The Kolb Studio was built in 1904 by brothers, Ellsworth and Emery. The Kolbs made their living by photographing visitors walking down the Bright Angel Trail.
In 1911, the brothers filmed their journey down the Green and Colorado Rivers. They spent 101 days on the water (in two stints) and covered 1167 rivers miles from Green River Wyoming to Needles California. We saw a few clips of the movie, which Emery Kolb showed regularly in his studio until 1976, when he died at the age of 95.
Emery travelled the US to show the film and Ellsworth wrote an account the journey. His book, Through the Grand Canyon from Wyoming to Mexico, was published by MacMillan in 1914. Today the Kolb Studio is an art gallery and exhibition space.
I’m anxious to get this posted, so I’ll share some of the canyon’s amazing statistics in my next post on our flight over this remarkable scenery.
By the way, I’ve had a terrible time trying to choose pics to share. I took a couple of hundred shots at the Grand Canyon. Almost every single one deserves to be shared, but I had to show some restraint. Also, not all pics have captions.