Grand Canyon South Rim. The force of water is incredible, the Grand Canyon has been shaped by this force during the past millions of years, leaving an amazing landscape of up to 2.000 meter deep walls. When hiking in mountains you know that what goes up will come down. Now it is the reverse. What goes down must come up, or as the signs here say: “going down is optional, coming up is mandatory”. After yesterday’s rim hike we looked at different options for our Sunday hike. Finally we decide to walk down South Kaibab Trail, to see at 11:00 how far we would be and then decide on the further route. Getting up at 5:00 is a challenge for some of us, as it is still freezing cold. But once on the trail with the first sunbeams brushing the top of the pinnacles you get in a totally different spirit.
Descending is easy with incredible views and only a few people on the trail. Stopping once in a while to let the peace sink-in.
Hiking from forest, through sparse vegetation ending at the Colorado river, where multi-day rafters are having a break. A multi day trip on a raft is still on my bucket list, together with some other parks which were too far off route for now.
Think we will have to come back one day. Sometimes you would like to be able to do all but being on a bike does give you some restrictions. Now we really enjoy what we have and can see.At 11:00 we know that if we continue at this pace we should be able to arrive back at the rim before sunset. After an 11 km descend with 1430 elevation meters (working on our calves) we can cross the two bridges, Black Bridge and Silver Bridge, over the Colorado River and start climbing Bright Angel Trail.
This morning it was cold, at noon it must be +30°C. Where the descend had very sparse to no vegetation as there was no water, you see here how water is the source of life. A small creek (Garden Creek) runs beside the path, yellow cottonwood trees provide shade and shelter for birds (and us).
Also here we only meet a few people. What has happened to the crowds and the warnings we got that Bright Angel Trail would be so busy? We only meet first a group of mules carrying supplies and backpacks, followed at a later stage by a group of people on mules for a multi-day trip in the canyon.
Other than that we only hear our own breathing, the rustling of leaves in the wind and the dripping of water. As the path must be do-able for mules there are a lot of switchbacks to ensure we can ascent 1320 m in 15 km. After a hike of 26 km, we are back at the rim 45 minutes before sunset.
Next day we need to take a rest day as we can hardly walk anymore. Our calves have been working so hard that they demand a day of laziness. Kenya Yashida joins us at the biker/hiker campsite, 23 year old Japanese student, biking from North to South! Quite an experience to be biking this on his own, his dream is to become a designer for outdoor wear and this adventure gives him a different view on things. He asks us to share our dream in his “dreambook”.
He will be hiking the same trail tomorrow but managed to get an overnight camping permit, which gives him even more time to enjoy the breath-taking nature.
Next day we leave, after having spent 4 nights at the South Rim, Mather campground. Ken has left us a sweet card and origami. Amazing blog you have, a pity we cannot read Japanese!
A few people are dressed-up as it is Halloween today. And of course all places where we stop have decorations.
Our bright jackets will need to do the trick.
Leaving the Canyon
Following the secluded biking lane to Tusayan is a joy. Seeing all helicopters lifting off from there to fly over Grand Canyon makes me wonder if we should not have done this. But having biked the region, hiked North and South Rim, camped at Lees Ferry and hiked from Rim to bottom and back up gave us most, the heli we can do when we come back 😊. Further to Williams it is one long straight stretch, downhill but with quite some headwind. As we arrive late and I want to sleep in a real bed we push on to the city and find a very clean spot in Motel 6. Williams is on historical route 66.
On the first of November we remember the dead and first thing we pass is a cemetery. Even if you think often of them, this is a day to remember and talk about them in a more intense way.
Highway Horror and mountain biking again
Google Earth, Bike map and other sources had indicated that due to lack of alternative roads, we needed to take 5 miles of Interstate 40, after that we could take a shortcut to AZ89. In the morning we have not yet decided if we would take the shortcut as it will go over a forest road. But after 5 miles of nerve-racking, tear jerking, life-threatening Interstate we are happy with whatever road available. As long as it not an Interstate with roadworks leaving just nothing between you and fast-moving trucks speeding by. Even if Forest Road 4 is not a biking road and full of big lava stones, even if Forest Road 4 gives Frank 2 flat tires, even if this road takes 3 times as long as the normal highway, we are happy with the solitude and space. No cars or trucks for the whole length.
At one moment we have to follow AZ 89 but luckily with a good shoulder. At 16:30 we stop at the gas station of the very small village of Paulden. Owner Heidi lets us stay for free behind the building. She has an area for permanent campers but does not want to charge us anything as the only facility she has for us is the toilet in the gasstation, open between 5:00-22:00.
Buy a house?
On the way to Prescott I need to stop to take a photo of a prefab home concept, you can have a new house the next day, where you want to have it. They are so sweet to show us one of their showroom models. Seems that a lot of houses are built this way and not constructed on site, to avoid delay due to weather impact and reduce labor cost.
Size of this one (the brown showroom model) is +17×8 meters, 3 bedrooms, large kitchen, 2 bathrooms, patio for 150.000$. Don’t know if oversized transport is included. The 8 meter wide is made of two parts and transported that way. You can even have them 3 or 4 sections wide, assembled at the final destination. If you want one constructed in your colours it will take max 10 weeks to make. Looks good!
Up to Prescott for a 2 night stay in a motel, sniff some culture, Frank having a haircut and beard trim and eat some different food. Prescott is the first larger city after Helena, which was 4 months ago. Town where average age is 60+ as a lot of people from California will retire here for the cooler climate.
We hope that putting slime in the tubes of our bikes will reduce fixing flats, Frank had 4 flat tires in the past two days, thanks Soul Ride MTB Shop for doing this while we wait!
Biking out of this real city we have to stop at Startbucks so we end up leaving after 9:00. Decided to try to take some smaller roads, CR10 followed by CR15. Meeting Billy and James who are out for a mountain bike ride, you really see they have done this before, appears that James is in the semi pro team of Cannondale.
They race off as professionals. Bit later we see a stop for the trans American race and have a chat with people supporting and racing.
Followed by a long lunch at the Kirkland hotel and meeting Carrie, who is solo travelling to Mexico (lives in Vancouver). All this together with a headwind makes us stop just before Yarnell and again we are offered a free camping spot behind the gas station of Peeples Valley (Mountainaire)!
We pass one of the largest ranches we have seen so far. Again a week has passed with again such a different landscape but also the change between staying around touristic highlights and real life areas. Not yet the most wealthy area. Next week we will roar down to 150 meter above sea level. You will find out which impact this has on nature!