To the Grand Canyon

2010/11/3-4: From Bryce to Grand Canyon

We drove east from where we’d spent a comfy indoor night just west of Bryce, to Cannonville, Utah, looking for an adventurous back road that would take us south toward the North Rim. Good thing we stopped at the visitor information there, because the road was badly washed out. Karen, the visitor information lady was an ardent amateur botanist, so even though we had to back track, our time with her was well spent learning how to identify four-wing saltbush, among other dryland vegetation.
Four-wing saltbush (Atriplex canescens)
After backtracking, we drove south visiting Pipe Spring National Monument along the way, and learning a bit of Mormon pioneer history. The enthusiastic volunteer we had all to ourselves was from South Carolina. She had a great depth of knowledge on her subject, too. The fortified ranch house was built by a Mormon group right over the spring,  taking control of the only water supply for many miles. This protected them from siege, but also deprived local native people of access to water they had previously used.
Pipe Spring National Monument

They kept a large herd of Texas longhorn cattle that expanded as a result of tithing payments, and provided cheese and butter to St. George,Utah. Having cautiously eyed the two longhorns that were there, I can assure you I would not like to try and milk one.

Texas Longhorn
We spent another indoor night at Jacob Lake, arriving at the North Rim next morning. After warnings about the onerous back country permit system, and the slim chances of a permit without prior reservation, we got exactly what we wanted! Luckily, we’d done our reading, so I asked if we could do a section of the Tonto trail which follows the contour line along a platform or step forming the lip of the inner canyon on the south side. The rangers cannot offer you options outside “the corridor” for liability reasons, but if you make a specific suggestion they can respond to it. The forecast for the next few days was good, so with permit in hand for a next-day departure and three nights out, we drove round to the South Rim. I was fascinated, at a convenience store on our way across the Arizona strip to hear old men speaking what I believe was Navajo. As we walked on the old Navajo Bridge across the Colorado at Marble Canyon, we saw a pair of tagged California condors perched on the canyon wall. Once extirpated from this region, these huge black birds have been recently reintroduced with some success. We car camped at the South Rim camp ground, and organized ourselves for the hike.
Tagged California condors perched on the Colorado river canyon wall
Navajo Bridges (left-old, right new)


One response to “To the Grand Canyon

  1. I am very envious of your condor sighting! I trust you consider yourself very, very privileged!

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