I skipped back to the Downtown Diner for breakfast before heading out for The Big Day. There was just one other table occupied when I arrived and the waitress was a chatty blond. Turns out she is from Virginia Beach, and just arrived a few weeks ago. Small world.
Backpack, water, a salty snack and a book -- the basics for any outdoor excursion -- and I was on the road. According to the signs, it's just 87 miles north to the Grand Canyon from the Museum of Northern Arizona. Despite the 75 mph postings, it seemed to take forever. Of course, I stopped along the way to take a few photos, so that might account for the length of the trip. But who could resist? The landscape between Flagstaff and the Canyon is just STUNNING. It's a varied picture of pine forest, scattered shrubs, fields of flowers, farms with mountains rising in the background... Just amazing.
I arrived at the Canyon shortly after noon, parking just past Mather Point and heading first to the toilets. I didn't want to spoil my view of the Canyon by doing "the bathroom dance" on the rim.
I have just a few more minutes on the computer this morning before heading back up there, so let me just say that the Grand Canyon is as otherworldly as many travellers say. Indeed, my first impression was that the distant rises and drops were a massive and shifting backdrop to an equally unreal canyon in the foreground. Bizarrely, it reminded me of a Star Trek episode. Um, I'll stop there.
I spent a good hour doing the typical tourist thing of drifting between the lookout points and the ever-cheesy gift shops. Knowing that I would return on Sunday, I figured that I should get that out of my system early.
Thereafter, I set my sights on reaching Hermit's Rest on foot from the Shrine of Ages. It's the farthest point of the Rim Trail, paved nearest the commercial sites and then rough and railing-less for the bulk of it. I will have to calculate how many miles I did in those many hours, but know I did work-off the brownie I had treated myself to back at Bright Angel Lodge. LOL.
I did that, and then some.
Still, I didn't make it all the way on foot. The sun was just setting when I reached the Abyss, and there was nothing but more largely-solitary and close-to-the-cliff trail ahead. I hopped a shuttle from the Abyss to Pima Point and then hiked and ran the trail to Hermit's.
Yes, ran. Who knew that trail running could feel so liberating?
Wait 'til you see my victory photo... :)