Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hanging Out at the North Rim

Joe, Joe and Ned On the Edge of Cape Final

This morning we got up and after a breakfast of eggs and hot dogs we headed out to Cape Royal. On the way into the park we passed the herd of bison again. A park worker we talked with last night said they don't exist after we told him we saw them yesterday. They looked pretty real.

The drive to Cape Royal is 18 miles out on the Wahalla Plateau. There are a number of pull offs along the way offering different views of the Grand Canyon and side canyons. At the end of the road we walked out to Cape Royal and Angels Window, the only arch in Grand Canyon National Park. On the drive back we stopped and hiked out to Cape Final. The Cape Final Trail is a four mile round trip hike with little elevation change that wanders through the forest to a lookout point. It's a nice trail and not as crowded as Cape Royal.

We then went to the lodge and had lunch in the dining room at a table next to the grand windows with their view over the Grand Canyon. The meal was good and with the view as a bonus it far surpassed the meal at Bright Angel Lodge that we had on the South Rim a few weeks before. After lunch we went to the North Rim campground and took showers and then hung out on the porch of the general store located there. The boys worked on their Summer Bridge books while I did some research and planning for our destinations tomorrow.

We then returned to the lodge to watch the sunset. While we waited we played some Uno. A boy from New Jersey named Cameron was watching us play and started to help Ned. We asked him to join us. The four of us played Uno as the sun set over the canyon. Once the sun had set we went out on the west porch to a sky filled with stars. We took turns looking through a telescope that a park volunteer had set up. He had it focused on Jupiter and we could make out the planet's disk with the cloud bands and four of its moons, Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is very different from the South Rim. The crowds are not here. Yes, it can be hard to get a good seat on the porch to watch the sunset but there is never a sense of being packed, pushed or jostled and once you leave the lodge area you are alone. The North Rim is green. Because it is about a 1000 feet higher in elevation it is cooler and wetter. This means there are more trees. Both of these differences makes it pleasant to hike around the canyon rim. I would like to return to the North Rim again some day possibly in late spring or early fall.

Where the Bison Roam

Wildflowers on the Trail

Cape Royal View

Freya Castle

Angels Window

Prickly Pear In Flower

Ned Catches Up on His Reading

End of the Day, End of Our Visit

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