Grand Canyon: Day 2
The previous day was really tiring and when the alarm went off I just couldn't help it and snoozed it... for another hour. Being that tired I expected to sleep like a baby, but it wasn't really the case. Not sure whether it was noisy neighbors or the room being too warm but I spent the night tossing and turning and not getting as much rest as I was hoping for.
My original plan for the day was to drive to the Havasu Falls. The reviews I read of that place were promising it to be one of the best sights around. It also featured on Roadtripper's 5 Must See views around the Grand Canyon (click through for some truly stunning photos). Apart from the obvious desire to see this place, I thought it was a great plan as going there would mean quite a bit of driving, but hence less walking and I thought my injured knee could use some time to recover.
But the little research I did indicated that this may be too ambitious plan for a day so I decided to double check in the Visitor's Center. I'm glad I did because there was no chance I could make it as a single day trip. The drive there was much longer than what I thought (unless they estimate driving times as conservatively as walking times over the trails...) and the hike there was also fairly substantial.
So Havasu Falls were out. What I also learned was that the Hermit trail and the Grandview trail, things that I was planning for the last day, were essentially the only two trails left in the southern part of the park (and the north part was out of bounds in winter). Should I worry about running out of things to do?
Anyway, with the falls being out of the picture, I decided to try to attack those two trails that day. I hopped on the bus and headed towards the Hermit trail. We reached it and I saw that the fog was even worse than yesterday, completely covering the whole place. I was not too worried as I was hoping it would clear again, once I got few hundred meters down, but I was sorry for all the tourists at the top, who did not consider that a viable option and who indeed seemed to be in a foul mood.
I started walking down. As predicted soon the fog cleared and I was rewarded with great views of the canyon below (see photos on the left and above). I first went to the Dripping Springs, then back to the fork and down again to the Santa Maria spring, where I'm rewarded with another spectacular overlook of the canyon (photos below).
Actually I didn’t realize it at first but the trail goes even further than that, all the way down to the Colorado river; it's just that they don't advertise it much in the maps they hand out in the Visitor's Center as they don't want people to go all the way. But my knee is not feeling great and I don’t think it’s a good idea to try that so I just stick to the original plan, turn around at the spring and start climbing.
As I reach the top I realize there is not enough time to do the Grandview trail and decide to instead do a hike along the rim back to the Visitor’s Center -- a total of 13km, which I was originally leaving for the last day. Right away I meet a group of elks. There’s tons of them around but one of them seems particularly oblivious to my presence and I manage to take some decent photos (see below).
I walk for another 5km but then decide it’s pointless; I cannot see anything due to the fog and my knee is giving me trouble. So I call it a day and hop on a bus.
Disappointed with my previous dinners I decide to try a restaurant in the park for a change. I pick the one at the Bright Angel lodge. It's a good call: I have a tasty trout with french fries that I was craving for and a calorie packed brownie with sundae for dessert. Much better than my two previous dinners.
However, that means that my drive back to the hotel is in total darkness and with the heavy fog all over the place it’s quite an adventure, even though it’s only 10km. Since I cut my plans for the day short I’m back at the hotel early. I decide to use this opportunity to catch up on rest, go to bed early and hopefully still have some time to see something on the following day.
(Click for some Photo highlights from day 2; click 'All photos' for even more)