If I could even attempt to find words to describe the Grand Canyon, they would be: breathtaking, stunning, gorgeous, extraordinary, magnificent. And words to describe me: awestruck, dumbfounded, speechless, astounded, stunned.
The Grand Canyon is incredible. It’s no wonder it’s listed as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. We stopped at a few scenic points on our way in, and all we could do was look around ourselves in awe and say, “Woooooooooooow!” Abi was interested in seeing the canyon too, much to our amusement and that of other tourists. Every time we said “Look!” she’d jump up on the railing with her ears perked, searching the canyon for what she probably hoped was a squirrel or rabbit somewhere amongst the rocks!
We also saw quite a bit of wildlife on the way in; we saw elk, deer, and the endangered California condor. There was a tree of these rare birds not too far down in the canyon, and they would occasionally fly overhead, swooping down fairly low, and landing on canyon walls not far from where we were standing.
And these animal-sightings were only on our way into the park!
The next morning, Katie and I awoke extremely early to make it to a 7:00 am hike down the Grand Canyon. We definitely allowed ourselves a bit too much time; we arrived at the trailhead about an hour before the tour was supposed to start. After spotting and taking pictures of another elk and watching busload after busload of hikers just start down the path, Kate and I decided not to wait for the tour and to wander down on our own. We started the South Kaibab trail at about 6:40, and made our way down the 1.5 miles to the Cedar Ridge stop. We took countless pictures and were blown away by the massiveness of the canyon.
Oh! And we also spotted a ton of wildlife here as well! We spotted a tiny little geckos (lizards? salamanders? I’m not sure), a tail-less squirrel-type animal (which I would describe more as a chinchilla, but these only exist in homes or in South America), a few ravens, and an agave plant! This one was dead, though, which led me to dub it “Deadgave.” It was still cool to get a picture by though! (And yes, our raft tour guide was right: it is about 15 feet tall.)
At Cedar Ridge, we explored the rocks and some outcroppings a bit, snapped a few pictures, and then looked longingly at the trail that continued down to the Colorado River before begrudgingly deciding to head back up the canyon. We knew we weren’t prepared (especially after hearing the story of Margaret Bradley) and that the journey up the canyon could take over twice as long, so as much as we wanted to continue, we decided to turn ourselves around and head back up. Once we reached the top (with slightly burning legs) we realized with shock that we’d made this three mile hike down and up 1,440 feet in nearly exactly two hours! We’d been warned it would take three to four, so allotted ourselves extra time (knowing our parents would worry if we were not back by noon). Since we had time to kill, we decided to take the shuttle to a different part of the rim, hike around the rim, and then make our way back to camp. After many more stunning views of the Canyon, we made it back for a total of about six miles of hiking! Finally… exercise!
At long last, we all packed up the RV and headed out of the Grand Canyon, off to our next adventure.