Most the terrain right around the canyon rim is what you would call a typical high desert environment. There are place where there are some pretty large pine trees, but a lot of the area is covered in large sage and pinion trees. It is obvious as you drive through the area, that it has been relatively well managed. The forest floor is open and not littered with lots of undergrowth. Many of the larger trees bear scars and charring from fires that have been used to clear the underbrush. In general, the forest around the canyon is low-key but beautiful and seemingly well-managed. We arrived at the main visitor center for the South Rim and we were quickly out looking at the amazing scenery. It is truly all that it is cracked up to be. We were amazed and stunned by the beauty of the area. It is amazing how this entire area has been carved by water in just over 5 million years! We spent most of the morning exploring the various areas of the South Rim. It was a good but very frosty morning! The temperature was only in the 30’s and 40’s and with the wind it definitely kept us on the colder side of life. We saw tons of beautiful landscapes and really enjoyed our time wandering around the rim.
After about 4 hours in the park we decided to head back to our hotel so that Zack could do some swimming. The rest of the afternoon was spent swimming, showering and napping. It was a great afternoon! Around 5:00PM we were both hungry so we headed out to one of the very few restaurants in town. It was a quick meal and we were once again on our way into the park. I wanted to make sure we got to see a sunset over the walls of the canyon. We drove along the road to the eastern rim for a pretty long distance stopping at all the look out points and capturing the view in our memory. I was also taking lots of pictures. Unfortunately, my 35mm Digital SLR camera decided it was time to give up the ghost during our evening trip to the canyon. I have had this camera for over 5 years and it has taken at least 11,000 pictures based upon the image count. It has been beaten and abused over the years but I think it is gone for good. (I have found digital cameras just don’t last as long as traditional film cameras.) On the way back to the hotel we had a close call with one of the largest doe elk I have ever seen. This animal was massive! She darted out onto the road right in front of us. I had to slam on the brakes to make sure I didn’t hit her. But thankfully I didn’t hit her and she was just fine. Once we stopped I gave the horn a honk and she wandered peacefully back into the forest. After that we stopped at the Tusayan General Store to pick up a snack for Zack and then it was back to the hotel. I spent some time on the phone – had to use the landline of course! And then we were off to bed. Wednesday morning has dawned here bright and brisk. I have another conference call to do at 8:00AM local time and then we are off to the park. Today’s plan is a hike down into the canyon. We are NOT going to the bottom of course as I we couldn’t do that and get back in one day. The plan is to cover about 6 or 7 miles and get a little ways into the canyon and get a good taste for it. I think this trip has added another activity to my life to-do list. The activity is to hike across the canyon from either the south to north rim or vice versa. I think that would be an unparalleled wilderness experience. Unfortunately - I am only able to add two pictures to this post as the connection from the hotel is SOOO bad! Til later – Thanks and peace to all!