Photo Friday: Grand Canyon Grand Finale

Part 1 of this series was up on the South Rim. Part 2 took us down the Bright Angel trail and out the Tonto West Trail to Horn Creek. Part 3 is Monument Canyon and Granite Rapids. Part 4 took us to Hermit Creek and Hermit Rapids, where we finally saw some decent wildflowers.

Today we'll finish the backpack trip with the scenic hike up the Hermit Trail (much less strenuous to look at than to hike) and some bonus photos from the drive out of the Park to the east.

Day 6: Up and out

After a couple of very hot days down in the Canyon, we figured we'd better hit the trail early to beat both the heat and some very high winds forecast to pick up during the day. We'd be hiking fairly light: down to a single small lunch (to be continued on arrival at the rim if necessary) and knowing we would be able to refill water at Santa Maria Springs before beginning the final climb. We did our best to crash early, with alarms set for 4:30 a.m.

In the event, we were up at 4:20, really at the first hint of light, and at 5:34 shouldered our nicely depleted packs and headed out (no, I don't know why it takes so long to eat breakfast and pack up such a minimal camp, but it does). I think we were the first hikers out of camp.
Clouds delayed the sunrise. Every little bit helps.

By 6 we were back up to the trail junction, and began at once to climb the first set of switchbacks.

Looking back to the junction, and considering what we'd climbed so far.

The "Cathedral Stairs" followed the climb up around Cope Butte, after a brief "rest" in the form of a more gradually sloping traverse. We stopped at the base of the tight switchbacks for Second Breakfast at 7 a.m., then continued up.

At this point the clouds began to thicken, which both gave us cooler conditions and some great light.
The sun lighting the wall above Hermit Creek.

Suffice to say that we kept climbing. One nice thing about the lingering clouds--they extended the period of good light, thus offering more excuses to stop for photos. Here are a few of the best.

Several places along the trail through the Redwall had been damaged by slides. The Park Service doesn't maintain the Hermit trail to the standards of the Corridor Trails (it's marked on the map as "unmaintained," but that is clearly not the case).

The first piñons and junipers were a welcome sight, telling us we'd made some real headway on the 4200' climb (approximately 8 1/4 miles, if you're counting).

About 2 miles from the end, and with 1500' still to go, we got a good rest, Elevenses, and a chance to refill water bags at Santa Maria Springs.

The historic shelter is nicely walled in by a massive vine that must have been planted when the place was built.

The shelter interior.

Feeling more like the Rim, but still have 800' to go.

A beautiful sight--the sign at the top.

We were met at the rim by another friend--with food and beverages. The two of us headed out the next day for some more adventures, to be covered next week. But first we drove Desert View Drive east through the park, with some more chances for views. Bizarrely, after our nearly 3-digit temps only 2 days before, we now viewed the Canyon through snow flurries. I didn't keep track of which viewpoints we visited and don't know exactly where I took the next two photos.

Observe the snow-shower over the Canyon.

Our next-to-last stop was at the Watchtower at Desert View. Designed by Mary Colter (who did a number of buildings in the park, including Phantom Ranch), it was built in 1932 and is meant to resemble the ruined towers at many Ancestral Puebloan sites. We didn't go up, as it requires both a fee and a wait. We couldn't afford the latter.

Photo courtesy my travel companion, and included to show that I am wearing my down jacket over my sweatshirt--proof that it's chilly!

The final point on my Grand Canyon tour was a stop at the Navajo Bridge on AZ Highway 89, where we were able once again to see the condors.

You can tell it's a California Condor by the number tags. Also by the white markings under the wings.

Stay tuned! And if you're in Seattle, come see me and my books at the Phinneywood Art Stroll (you'll find me down at the bottom of the artist list, under "other").

©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2023
 As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated.
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  1. Pretzels and a cool drink at the top. Beer and a burger a few hours later.


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