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The Grand Canyon Trek

An Exploration of the Grand Canyon - April 27, 2002 - May 4, 2002

- Click Here For Larger Image -Anasazi Cliff Dwelling

Our Canyon trek began with a misadventure. Southwest Airlines “misplaced” one of our backpacks! We can't go backpacking without all our gear!. But eventually they found the missing pack in Sacramento and got it to us before we left Phoenix for the drive north to Grand Canyon.

Along the way we stopped to visit this cliff dwelling. The park service had erected a chain link fence to protect the ancient structure from further damage from tourists and vandals. Still, it was an interesting lesson in how the Anasazi people lived and farmed in the area

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- Click Here For Larger Image -Red Sandstone Wind Sculptures

Driving north, the dry desert landscape gave way to the interesting landscapes near Sadona of red sandstone, green junipers and sagebrush. Even the town of Sadona takes advantage of their unique colorful location. The buildings blend into landscape by using the indigenous materials.

K and I have promised to come back to this area and explore the hills and canyons.

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- Click Here For Larger Image -Grand Canyon Scenery

It's interesting to think of the great southwestern desert as a vast inland sea of sand, and within that “sea” are various mountain ranges that rise up to alpine heights like island oases.

Approaching Grand Canyon the landscape changes from the dry desert flat lands to the forest of blue spruce, oaks, and ponderosa pine at the 7,000 foot canyon rim.

The afternoon was wearing on, but we had to stop at view points to photograph the grand vistas of the Grand Canyon.

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- Click Here For Larger Image -Grand Canyon From the El Tovar

The historic El Tovar Hotel was built of Oregon pine logs and native stone on the Canyon's south rim in 1905, and has been a tourist destination ever since.

My brother reserved a room for K and me as a wedding present. He is such a thoughtful guy.

We arrived at the El Tovar as the sun was begining to set toward the western horizon. Even before we checked in at the hotel, we had to take some photos.

Tomorrow morning after breakfast we will get on a park shuttle that will take us and our gear to the Hermit Trail trail head. We are ready for a fun desert adventure.

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- Click Here For Larger Image -The Monument at Monument Creek

Hiking on the “level” trail was a welcome relief after the miles of downhill trekking. The trail meandered around deep eroded cuts in the canyon floor giving us occasional glimpses of the Colorado River even farther down inside the Canyon.

When we finally spotted the monument at Monument Creek, we were ready to unload the packs and rest.

Monument Creek is little more than a trickle. Water sources in the desert are a valuable commodity. There are several established camp sites here and we are glad to take off the packs and set up camp. It took patience to fill our water bottles and get enough water from the creek for cleaning up and for cooking.

The park service has also provided some food caches in the form of military surplus ammo boxes. We wondered what animals in the desert would require this kind of security. We found out the reason for the caches is because the ground squirrels here are very sneaky and quite agressive when there is food around. A woman hiker even had her water bottles chewed up by voracious squirrels.

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- Click Here For Larger Image -The Colorado River from Tonto Trail

Tonto is a word from the local Indian language that means “fool”. We thought the Indians provided the name for the foolish white men that ventured into the canyon in the search of mineral resources.

After a restful night at Monument Creek listening to desert sounds and the screeching of some unknown night bird, we awoke to a beautiful sunny morning. The temperatures were warm and pleasant. But we knew it would get hotter as the day wore on, so we got an early start on the trail.

We had to fill extra water bottles for this days hike. The next water source was not potable due to radiation poisoning because there happens to be a uranium deposit nearby, and it is many miles until we reach good water at Indian Gardens Camp Ground.

Even with legs still a bit tired and feet still sore from the previous days hike, we started out eagerly. As we hiked we were fascinated by the many forms of the multi colored stone walls and the vastness of the Canyon. We marveled at the deep green Colorado River still far below us.

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- Click Here For Larger Image -Flowering Cacti along the Tonto Trail

Below the rim of the Canyon is another world. Temperatures within the Canyon can be as much as 30 degrees warmer than the temperatures at the rim.

Much of the inner canyon is considered desert, excluding the areas along the river and it's tributaries. The vegetation found in the inner canyon is typical of that found in deserts to the south, cacti and drought resistant shrubs. We were fortunate to be in the canyon when the prickly pear were in bloom.

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- Click Here For Larger Image -Taking a break on the Tonto Trail

We had been hiking for a couple of hours enjoying the scenery, the warmth of the sun, and the solitude.

Human habitation within the canyon dates back as much as 3,000 to 4,000 years to a time when the Desert Archaic people lived within the Grand Canyon. Archeologists have found evidence of their habitation including pictographs applied to rocks and small effigies called “spit-twig figurines”.

In fact, archeological history shows that human habitation of the southwest goes back to at least 13,500 years with the discovery of the “Clovis” spear point, a stone age tool illustrating a highly sophisticated level of technology for the time. The “mother” of all weapons for that period.

Ruins of Anasazi pueblos dating back to 500 to 800 AD show that Pueblo Indians lived within the canyon

Spaniards from Coronado's expedition were probably the first white men to see the canyon. Most recently we had just passed a family of hikers going in the opposite direction.

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- Click Here For Larger Image -A Look Back Toward Indian Gardens Camp Ground

Indian Garden Campground is an oasis. Willows and tall Cotton Wood trees provide cooling shade along the banks of a picturesque stream.

A few adventurous tourists will venture down from the Canyon's south rim to Indian Gardens. Then turn around and hike back to the top.

The camp sites at Indian Gardens are well defined, with prepared tent platforms that include the luxury of picnic tables. After we had selected our camp site, we walked back to the stream to wash off the desert trail dust and to soak our hot feet in the cooling waters

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- Click Here For Larger Image -Starting Up Bright Angel Trail

We have enjoyed our stay inside the Canyon, now it's time to climb back to the rim. Here, we start up the Bright Angel Trail. We stopped for a look back toward Indian Gardens and the memories we had created in the Canyon.

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