Wednesday, January 22, 2014

2013 Throwback - Arizona road trip part 1

Vacation Races held a contest on Monday for a free race entry to one of their national park series race events this year in honor of the first entrance-fee free park days. Unfortunately, I did not win a free entry to the race I chose (Grand Canyon), but it did get me thinking about my first trip to the Grand Canyon which I took around this time last year. I was able to spend a week in Arizona and made a road trip out of it - I flew into Phoenix (and caught a hockey game, of course), then drove up to the Grand Canyon and stayed there for 2 nights, then headed to Flagstaff for a night and finally made my way through Sedona to Scottsdale for 2 days. It was an awesome trip and I can't wait to go again!

I really didn't know what to expect from the trails at the Grand Canyon - I've done a few hikes by myself, so I felt comfortable going alone (though I'm not sure my family felt the same way!) but I wasn't sure how I'd react to the elevation change - 750' in Charlotte to 1,100' in Phoenix to over 7,200' at the Grand Canyon! Luckily, I didn't have any physical issues, though the change in elevation did create some interesting weather conditions.

I got there around lunchtime and started at the main visitor center. I took the Rim Trail until I got to the South Kaibab Trail  which was about 2.5 - 3 miles. The weather was great for this part of the trip - it varied between sunny and overcast with some sprinkles, but that meant I got to see lots of rainbows. I would highly recommend taking the Rim Trail - it's a paved path that does have a few "uphill" sections, but they're minor and there are a lot of great opportunities to take pictures. I took all of the pictures with either my iPhone (great for panorama's) or my actual camera, which is how I got the pictures of myself during the trip (thank you 10-second delay!).

When I got to the South Kaibab Trail, there was a few inches of snow on the ground and it was a pretty steep trail, so I put on my shoe spikes and started down the trail. I decided that I would just take the trail as it came and just go as far as I thought I could manage. Starting with the top-right picture is a view of the trail I was heading down - lots of switchbacks and definitely steep! The bottom-right picture was my favorite part of the trail - it's a section of trail that is surrounded by super steep drop offs on either side. It's frightening and exhilarating all at the same time! I was comfortable walking this trail, but there is no way you could get me on a horse to go down these trails!! The bottom-left picture is another view of the trail looking down from Ooh-Aah Point (.9 miles down the trail) toward Cedar Ridge (1.5 miles down). I made it to Cedar Ridge before deciding to turn around since it was getting later in the afternoon and I didn't want to get stuck on a trail as it was getting dark. The top-left picture gives you and idea of the expansiveness of the view - it really is breathtaking.

Monday morning I got up early to head out to try to catch the sunrise and was shocked by what I found outside - about 6-8" of snow! At this point, I was glad I let the rental car company convince me to get the 4 wheel drive. I bundled up and headed out toward the west side of the Rim Trail toward Hermit's Rest. I wasn't ever able to get a great picture of the sun coming up, but it was really neat to see the clouds slowly disappear as the sky lightened. The top left picture is one of the early ones that I took - you can really see the clouds hanging in the air. With all of the clouds in the canyon, you could see how fast the wind was moving.The next two pictures on the left are once it started to clear up a bit and you could see the snow in the canyon itself. I really like these as it shows the steepness of some of the drops (where none of the snow stuck) as well as the elevation change where you can see the snow just stops. The top right picture is at the far west end of the Rim Trail at Hermit's Rest and the bottom right picture is from one of the lookouts on the Rim Trail - it's funny how the panorama ends up distorting some of the image, but it's fun to see the change in sky color throughout the picture. It was really quiet when I went out, which was to be expected as I didn't see that many people when I was out in the middle of the day on Sunday, so I didn't expect to see many this early in the morning. 

Tune in tomorrow for more trail pictures and a recap from Sedona and Scottsdale!

Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon?

1 comment:

  1. OMG! I'm glad I didn't see these when you were on the trail. I'd have had a heart attack. You do amazing things. We're proud of all you've accomplished.