Both my mom and I's first thoughts were how bizarre that we were really the only people going all the way to the end, as this is the most visited national park in North America. However, we quickly became very happy with that reality because for the first 5 or 6 miles, we practically had the canyon to ourselves
! This was wonderful because it allowed us to take photos whenever we desired, and really walk at a leisurely pace and take in all the beautiful scenery. At one of the lookouts we decided to stop for a little snack break, which happened to be perfect timing, because while we were nibbling on some protein bars and cookies, a pair of California Condors glided by the nearby cliffs. One bird even made a remarkable close pass to us, and we could even hear the sound of the wind it created as it jetted by. It was easily the best wildlife sighting I've had on any hike, all year! For a little while longer, my mom and I just stood in awe, hoping that we would see it again, but both of us knew that we had gotten to experience a once-in-a-lifetime encounter with this gigantic bird.
As we hiked ever eastward, a slow trickle of people started to accumulate. This was perfectly fine with us because we still had plenty of opportunities to see the canyon, search for wildlife, and marvel at the twisted juniper trees that lined the trail. Both my mom and I truly enjoyed the plant life we saw during the hike, which was much different than anything we have in western Washington.
After a few more miles of hiking we no longer had the solitude that we enjoyed through the western portion of the trail
. Tour buses dropped herds of people off at an area with hotels and information stations, that the Rim Trail took us right to. Here we decided would be a perfect place for lunch and we snagged a quick bite at a lodge restaurant. After purchasing a few nick-nacks we continued on into the home stretch. At this point we both seemed to be kind of tired and ready to get to the air conditioned car, so we didn't partake in a ton of site seeing, and more or less, made a direct beeline to the parking lot.
Once we drove the 50 miles back to Williams we stopped for some old fashion ice cream treats across the street from our hotel and called it a day. Tomorrow we are off to Colorado to visit Mesa Verde National Park. And even though I'm now leaving the Grand Canyon behind, I shall never forget my first experience there.
Yesterday I got my first glimpse of the Grand Canyon, and today, I was back for more. Once again, my mom and I started the day early arriving to the national park a little after 8. From the entrance we caught a nice shuttle from the visitor's center, to the very end of a 10 mile expanse along the southern rim of the canyon, to a place called Hermit's Rest. In route we saw a very large rabbit, which was easily the largest bunny I had ever seen. But sadly, being on the shuttle didn't give us the best view. Anyway, our master plan was to take the day to journey back to the visitor's center on foot, along the Rim Trail.