Grand Canyon: Day 3
I wake up at 7am. Even though I spent many hours in bed, once again I didn't sleep very well and feel very tired in the morning. On autopilot I go, eat breakfast, check out and head towards the park.
It's my last day. Originally the plan was to just do some hiking along the rim and then head back to Las Vegas to catch my return flight. But I did part of the rim trail the day before and with the ever present fog it just isn't much fun. However, I did not manage to do the Grandview trail yesterday so that is where I'm headed now.
The fog is of course there, although today it’s slightly below the rim, so one can see a Grand Canyon's worth of fog with bits and pieces of rocks protruding here and there (photo to the right). It feels like being on a plane, flying above the clouds.
I snap a few pictures and get ready to start down the Grandview trail. The previous night I read that it's a much wilder trail than those I did on two previous days and that one should expect snow and ice at this time of the year. Indeed, that's exactly what I find there as the beginning of the trail is covered with ice (photo below).
The first kilometer is really tough. The trail is very slippery and I have to be move extra carefully. And slowly. The hike I had planned for today is just 10k total but at this pace there is no chance I can make it; at least not in time to drive back to Las Vegas and catch my flight.
But it occurs to me that this hike is highly unusual. Normally, when you hike up the mountains, things get worse the further along you are. But here I was going down into the canyon and the temperature should be increasing. So I decide to tough it out and try to go a bit further.
Indeed, things improve shortly. First the ice is gone from the trail, then even the snow disappears, then the fog, giving me some nice views, and finally it's green and pretty warm.
I follow the trail down to Horseshoe Mesa, a previous home to a copper mine. The place also gives spectacular views of the Canyon (photos below). Here I take a break, snap some photos, make a short trip to the nearby Miner's Spring and then it's time to turn around and start climbing.
Somehow the climb feels easier than I feared and I make a good time back to the top. My knee is also happy; maybe it senses that this adventure is coming to an end.
Since I have some time left I decide to still drive to the Desert View visitor's Center and see the Desert View Watchtower there.
Then it's time to head back. I calculate and re-calculate many times the time needed for the drive and I'm puzzled that the GPS seems to be claiming I need one hour less than what Google thinks; you can guess whom I decide to trust ;).
With my slightly disappointing culinary experiences in the canyon I crave something tasty. I did extensive research the night before and decided to stop at Kingman -- essentially the only bigger town on the way -- at the Thai restaurant Bangkok, which seemed like one of very few decent places to eat on the way. You can imagine my disappointment when I get there and the restaurant is closed. I shortly contemplate finding another one in Kingman, but am starting to be a bit worried about running out of time, especially that after Thanksgiving weekend I expect some traffic on the way to Las Vegas.
When I'm getting closer to Vegas I'm more and more puzzled by the GPS claiming that I should be there in 10 minutes when I still have some 70 miles to go. Eventually it dawns on me: time change. The only thing this GPS is showing is the estimated time of arrival and it’s Vegas time; not Arizona time. Duh… Somehow I adjusted my watch at some point, but didn't quite realize that the time change was between Nevada and Arizona, not California and Nevada. Gladly that means that I have one hour to spare, not that I’m one hour late ;).
So in the end I have plenty of time for dinner and I find a nice sushi restaurant. Problem is: I'm starving. And that's not a place for when you are starving. I'm faced with a choice of paying a fortune or eating dinner and still being hungry. Somehow, I managed to do both.
At least I'm glad that the driving is over, as I'm really tired. Now only airport, flight, drive home and, finally, time for bed :).
(Click for some Photo highlights from day 3; click 'All photos' for even more)