The Grandeur of the Grand Canyon

Trip Start Apr 08, 2009
Trip End Jun 19, 2009

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Flag of United States  , Arizona
Thursday, April 23, 2009

Mel and Han's Grand Canyon:

This morning Mum woke us two up at 6:14 in the morning so we could get there before the crowds. We left at 7:38.

The Grand Canyon was so amazing at first sight, and nothing like we imagined. Instead of a smooth deep bowl or a open box of rocks, it was a wide rocky canyon with cliffs and small branching 'canyons'. There were pillars of red rock sticking out everywhere. Dad taught us that there were three types of rock - red rock, limestone, and a soft grey shale. We went on a guided walk about fossils. A ranger showed us how the earth had opened its 'photo album' to show us many fossils. We found out that in America's national parks there is a program for kids called Junior Rangers. You do a guided tour and fill out a workbook, then you hand it in and get a badge. We didn't annoy Mum and Dad at the many view points because we were filling out our work booklet.

Karen's Grand Canyon:

It is grand in breadth and length, looking across to the opposite side 10 miles away. But I didn't realise you don't get a real feel for the depth because you can't look into the gorge of the Colorado River. The stepped layers of the canyon are what is really striking.

My favourite viewpoints were Hopi Point and Pima Point on the west side, Lipan Point and Watchtower on the east side. They all had a view of sections of the bright green river. I actually like it that colour, as it contrasts with the reddish rock. The Glen Canyon Dam has changed it from the original Colour Red (Colorado) as it traps the reddish sediments. We could even see the white foam of the rapids in a few places. They didn't look like much from where we were standing, but must be pretty impressive to negotiate on a raft considering we were seeing them from over a mile away.

The Junior Ranger program is a great idea of the National Park service. The kids got really excited about earning their first badge. At each viewpoint (another lookout?!) they sat down in whatever shade they could find and filled in their workbooks. And that made it much more pleasant for the parents!

The weather was really warm, unusually so for this time of year. 34 degrees C was the peak.

I got up at 5am this morning to do a short walk into the Canyon. I missed the sunrise at 5:45 but started walking just before 6am, down the South Kaibab trail, and enjoyed seeing the canyon in the early morning light. I was cold waiting for the shuttle bus and starting the descent, but had peeled off my jacket within 10 minutes of leaving the rim. There is a noticeable rise in temperature as you descend, and you feel the coolness when you are approaching the top again. I got to the Cedar Ridge viewpoint just after 6:30am, and kept going a short way after that. I wanted to get a feel for the canyon from below the rim, looking across to the canyon sides rather than down into the canyon. Even so, I regretted not taking the Plateau Point trail instead, where you could see into the river gorge, but that was much longer and I wanted to be back in time to pack up and leave. As it was, it took much less time than I expected and I was back at the top at 8am. I passed heaps of people making their way down, and surprisingly some were still dressed warmly. Next time, I'd like to go all the way down, and then come back up again at the end of the day in time to see the sunset at the top.

When I got back to the van, the kids were still in their pyjamas...
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