Thursday, June 5, 2008

Grand Canyon, Day 2

I awoke to a much colder day on my second day at the Grand Canyon, but that meant I wouldn't be too uncomfortable as I continued my hike on the rim.

I had heard that the mules leave the barns at sunrise - don't believe it. I got to Angel Bright trail head at 6:30 and saw the mules standing in the corral waiting for their riders. I did check on the possibility of a last minute ride but was out of luck on two counts: none available and I weigh too much. As I waited for the mules to head out, I hiked down the upper portion of Angel Bright. I'm glad I didn't spend the money on the mule ride. I couldn't even get to the 1-1/2 mile rest house because of my fear of heights. More on that later.
I got back to the rim and listened to the wrangler explain what the rider was expected to do and what they would experience on their ride. Some were there for the one day ride, others were headed for Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the canyon. The zig zag path in the picture is Angel Bright trail.

After watching the mule trains leave the rim, I continued my hike toward Hopi Point. Going west from the lodges, the trail climbs at a fairly steep grade. The path is still mostly paved, but there are many more steps. Maricopa Point is one of those rock fingers that sticks out into the abyss. The rock ledge is the same width as the trail with a sheer drop off either side. I made it to the end, but had to concentrate on the path and didn't enjoy(?) the view until I got to the safety of the guard rail at the end of the path. Then I had to turn around and get back to the safety of the rim trail.

By the time I reached Powell Point my nerve had returned and I inched my way out to the monument at the end of the path. Again I kept my eyes on my feet as I worked my way back off the point. Perhaps I have a touch of vertigo?

Near Hopi Point is the Orphan Lode Mine. It began life as a copper mine, with the miners going untethered over the side of the rim on wooden ladders to work the claim. Later they found uranium. The mine has been idle since 1969 and is still fenced off due to "higher than normal" radiation readings awaiting a plan to clean up the site.
After lunch the wind grew strong and the rain started to fall. I put the bike in the trailer just before the deluge began, then the thunder and lightning began. I learned how to operate the heater and ran the generator to keep the chill out and lights on for reading. The couple from Holland in the next space will return to a soggy tent.

I got up this morning to a chilly 40 degrees, ate my bagel and banana and got the Minnie on the road to Kanab, Utah. I'm in a nice park with internet, television and free showers without a 7 minute time limit - heaven. It's a very pretty little town hard against the red rock cliffs. From here I will explore Zion and Bryce on my motorcycle.


CiaoBella! said...

Thinking of you and knowing you will find Zion and Bryce awesome!

Frank said...

I remember a zillion years ago (approximately) hiking down Bright Angel Trail. Phew! Steep and dangerous! And tiring.

We won't talk about coming back up...

Erica said...

LOL again! =)

Anonymous said...

Robert says, "Fear" is definately a factor for you. Sorry I couldn't resist the Fear Factor show comment. I read some articles on riding in and around Zion and Bryce. The articles mentioned sand storms, and pretty severe weather changes. Hope it's nice when your there. Steve had originally wanted to include those places in our ride this summer, but that really adds some mileage and time. I sent you lodging information. Did you get it? If you don't have Excel you can download "OpenOffice" which is a Sun Microsystems clone of the Microsoft product. It includes Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Access like applications. More later.