Saturday, July 24, 2021

Southwest Parks 2021 - Day 3 (7/11/21) - North Rim exploration

Today was a day of exploration of the North Rim. We were out of the cabin before 8am, and our first stop was the deli by the lodge to pick up a couple of breakfast burritos. We filled up our camel packs and water bottle, then hit the road heading for the Cape Royal Road to the eastern points.

After some deliberation, our first stop was Point Imperial (via the Y junction turn-off to Point Imperial Road) - we got there around 9am. After admiring the view we set out on the Ken Patrick trail. We initially intended to go the full 3 miles until the trail intersected the Cape Royal Road, but we ended up turning back after a little less than 2 miles. That section of the trail mostly hugged the rim of the canyon, providing great views from varying angles. The trail was mostly of moderate difficulty without drastic changes in elevation, though there was one steep, difficult section where I almost chickened out and turned back; but I had my trusty trailblazer, Fran, to help me through it. Although the weather was pleasant (~85 degrees), I still worked up quite a sweat; while I naturally sweat a lot, it didn't help that I was out of shape from foregoing exercise for much of the pandemic.

Fran poses with the Grand Canyon behind her

Upon returning to the car we headed back Point Imperial Road to the Y junction and turned toward Cape Royal. We stopped along a couple of the viewpoints on the way, including Vista Encantada, Roosevelt Point, and Walhalla Overlook. At Roosevelt Point we also took the short Roosevelt Point trail out to an overlook, and then did a little off-trail exploration. As usual, Fran was the braver of the two of us when it came to hanging out on outcrops. At the end of the road we took the paved trail out to Angels Window and Cape Royal. After that we turned back on the road and then stopped to go down the short Cliff Spring trail. The "payoff" for this trail was a cool (in terms of temperature) spring that flowed through the overhanging cliff into an alcove. Unfortunately, the flow was at best a slow drip - further research revealed that this was typical, though some description implied it would be more spectacular.

It was now 3pm and I was pretty beat; though I know Fran could have carried on hiking for many more hours (even though she was carrying the much heavier pack and was routinely having to wait up for me). We were also out of water. In any case, we had a 4:45pm dinner reservation at the lodge, so we made the 45 minute drive back and then cleaned up for dinner. After dinner we scoped out the veranda of the lodge and staked a couple of the lounge chairs (which are in high demand) to relax and wait for the sunset. We didn't get to see the sunset again, though, as storm clouds blew in around 7pm and brought a brief thunderstorm. We initially tried to brave it out on the veranda but eventually took cover in the lodge to wait it out. Although the storm had passed before the sun was due to set around 7:45, the clouds lingered to block any view of the sun. He headed back to our cabin to call it a night after a fruitful and (for me) tiring day.

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Full pictures for the trip here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/FQpbDfmdGRksjimi9

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