Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Friday, 21 April 2006

On the Rim

Grand Canyon, Arizona – 21 April 2006

Our campground here on the South Rim is old and spacious, full of mature pines. Yesterday we walked the Rim Trail. This trail follows the edge of the canyon for nearly twenty miles. You can peer down over a mile and 1.8 billion years into the past though layers of multi-hued sedimentary rock formed in ancient ocean beds.

It's an easy walk, nearly level. We covered about eight miles along the rim, away from the crowds. In places the trail is a ledge, three feet wide, covered in loose rocks. Your first bounce, if you lost your footing, would be 500 feet below. A mountain goat and her offspring brushed past me and bounded down the cliff. I wasn't ready for the close encounter, but took a few long-range photos.

There are places here where tour buses disgorge passengers speaking many languages. These popular spots on the rim are not my favorite places. The average stay in the park is four hours. Many get off the bus, walk through the crowds to the rim, and snap some pictures and leave.

Today we took a more ambitious hike down the South Kaibab Trail. The trail descends steeply from 'Ooh Aah' point, dropping 800 feet in 1.8 miles. There are several trails like this here in the park. The trail eventually leads to the Colorado River over a mile below. We passed several mule trains hauling campers to the top who had spent the night camped on the river below. I took a paperback called Skeleton Man by Tony Hillerman to read before starting back. Strangely, it was set in the Grand Canyon.

The North Rim, fifteen miles distant, is much less popular because it is harder to get there. It's an additional 250 mile drive. We talked to a camper last night who walked the 28 miles from the North Rim, over the Phantom Ranch suspension bridge on the Colorado River and up the 'Bright Angel' trail to the South Rim. He did the hike in three days.

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