Going Scenic

Meadows on the way to the North Rim

Yesterday was the first time I went to the entrance station on my job this season. It was exceptionally lovely out there due to all the rain we have received this year.I stayed out there until lunch time, then drove home to eat. On the way I stopped to “smell the flowers”, or at least to take some pictures of them.

Very cool seed head

Fleabane

I have heard this one called Yellow Eye, but not sure if that is the name of it.

Pink Penstemmon

After lunch I drove up to Walhalla Overlook to attend Gaelyn’s Interpretive talk. It was about the history of the people who have lived in the area, and was very interesting.

Walhalla Overlook. The Colorado River is in the center of this photo

Wouldn’t it be nice to have this scene as the backdrop for your job every day?

Here I am with my friend and co-worker, Gaelyn

After the history talk was concluded, Gaelyn and I headed up to Cape Royal for her 3:00 talk. This time she talked about geology, and how the Grand Canyon was formed. Very interesting, but I still can’t get my head around how it happened. I’m just glad it did. This place is awesome even after five years of working here.

Angel’s Window at Cape Royal

A view of Cape Royal

Look how tiny those people look over there. That gives you some little bit of perspective on the size of the rocks and canyon walls.

Another view from Cape Royal

It’s days like this one on the job that just go by way too fast. All too soon it was time to go home for the day. At least there is tomorrow for another view of this fabulous canyon!

 

Fire At The North Rim

Contrary to popular belief, not all forest fires are bad. Sure, the ones that are started by careless campers, or arson, or that rage out of control and threaten homes and businesses, those are bad. But when it is a controlled, or managed fire, it is actually good for the forest.  Right now at the North Rim, there are a several fires burning that are being managed as part of the natural ecological system that has functioned for 10,000 years. Forest fires are natural. There would still be fire from lightning even if humans weren’t around.

Yesterday, I was witness to a remarkably efficient fire crew, getting ready to burn some of the “piles” that have been sitting along the border between the Kaibab National Forest and the Grand Canyon National Park since last summer. These piles are dead and downed wood that was gathered and stacked by volunteers, to clean up the forest floor. By doing this, it ensures that if there were to be a wildfire, started naturally by lightening, it wouldn’t burn as hot and kill the trees. The picture below is not very clear, but it was the only one I could find of fuel piles.

These piles were on Hwy 67 at the North Rim earlier this year

So, these guys, about 20 or so of them, arrived early in the morning out by the entrance station. They started taking tools and equipment out to the burn area, and setting up a portable water tank. Then they assembled one of the biggest sprinkler systems I have ever seen.

The fire crew assembled these two portable water tanks in a very short time

After the fire crew got the water tanks assembled, the water trucks started coming. They continued to arrive throughout the day, keeping the tanks filled.  Then, the fire guys started the sprinklers to wet the trees in the area where they planned to burn. They will continue to spray the trees with water during the burn to keep the trees from burning.  They are also going to do this burn at night so the entrance station will have minimal impact from smoke during the day.

I thought this whole process was very interesting, as I have never seen the forest crew in action. I can’t wait to see how things work out for this managed burn.

Would You Do This?

I found this news item while reading through Facebook this morning.  Swiis adventurer Yves Rossy flew across the Grand Canyon on the Hualapai Indian Reservation (on the western end of the Grand Canyon) wearing a “jet suit”.  I don’t think I would do something like that, I am too much of a scaredy cat for it. As a matter of fact, I think he is a crazy man for doing it.

He was in the air for about 8 minutes. That would be 8 minutes too long for me. I am happy enough to be standing on the edge. What do you think? Would you do this?

Driving Through Marble Canyon In Arizona To The North Rim Of The Grand Canyon

The last leg of our trip to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon always seems to be the most scenic. We left Flagstaff around 9:00 a.m. and arrived at our campsite at the North Rim about 2:30 p.m. We stopped once for fuel at Cameron, then for lunch at Jacob’s Lake. The weather was beautiful with not much wind, which was a plus. Here are some pictures of the scenic beauty along the way:

Could you imagine living in that house?

If you look very closely, you will see a house in the center of this photo. It will give you some idea of the scale of those cliffs–they are HUGE! Could you imagine living in that house, out in the desert?

Although this is the fourth year I will be working at the North Rim, I never get tired of seeing this landscape or taking this drive along Arizona Highway 89 and 89A. It is beautiful!

The road does seem endless, though

This is Marble Canyon, on Highway 89A in Arizona. It is absolutely gorgeous.

Navajo Bridge crosses the Colorado River

Crossing over the Colorado River on Navhjo Bridge. This marks the far eastern edge of the Grand Canyon.

Vermillion Cliffs

and here is your one minute video of  the Vermillion Cliffs in Arizona:

Along Highway 67 South on the Kaibab Plateau

 

 

After lunch we headed south on Highway 67 headed to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. There was snow in the higher elevations, but it looks like it has been melting quickly.

Still on Highway 67 South, almost to the entrance station

The higher we went on the Kaibab Plateau, the more snow there was. Still, there wasn’t nearly as much snow as last year.

The North Rim doesn't open to the public until May 15th, so I had to jump out and unlock the gat. Brrrr, cold!

Last year, the snow was taller than our RV at the entrance station. This year, it wasn’t nearly as high, but it was still cold. The gate doesn’t open to the public until May 15th each year.

See, not nearly as much snow as last year.

Hiking The Cape Final Trail

I am don’t normally have Wednesdays off, but this week I traded days off so one of my co-workers could spend time with visiting family members. Since my friend, Gaelyn from Geogypsy was also off, we decided to go for a hike.

(The beginning of the Cape Final Trail)

When she asked me where I wanted to hike, I had originally suggested the Arizona Trail. The part of the Arizona Trail that goes from the entrance station of the North Rim to the developed area is 12 miles. She thought was too ambitious for me, and she was very right. I don’t know what I was thinking! So, we hiked the 4 mile round trip of the Cape Final Trail instead.

(A Horned Toad hiding in the pinestraw)

We got started bright and early at the crack of 10:00 a.m., and got to the trail head about 11:00 a.m. To get there, you drive up the Cape Royal Road until you see the sign. There is a small dirt parking area there. We got out of the truck, and tried to take pictures of ourselves, but my camera didn’t do so great. Finally, we were on our way.
(Fire burned a hole between the trunks of these two Ponderosa pines, but they are both still living)

The trail starts off on a gentle incline, through Ponderosa forest. It is rocky, which makes walking a bit hazardous until you get used to it. Although I took enough water with me this time, I think I wore the wrong shoes. Next time, I’ll wear my work boots for the support they give.

(the view from the edge where we ate our lunch)

And speaking of water, it was a hot, dry, windy day out there. I was surprised by the number of visitors who were out there hiking with NO WATER AT ALL! People were out there hiking with children, carrying NO water, no food, no nothing.

(amazing!)

The views up here are some of the best in the canyon, but I say that about every trail I go on. I keep telling people, “I can’t see it enough!” Every eyefull of this place is gorgeous.

(More ponderosa forest)

After eating lunch, we started hiking again. The trail turned to the right, and went up and down through ponderosa forest again. We didn’t meet many people on this trail, unless one of had to use the bathroom. But, every time I started to go visit Mrs. Murphy, I’d see someone coming down the trail.
(Gaelyn on the edge.)

At last, we made to the end of the trail. The views up there, again, were amazing, gorgeous, fabulous, every way you looked was a new and different wonder!

(precariously perched pile of rocks)

There were quite a few people up at the top. We had to step around people to get to the view points. We rested some more, and took lots of pictures, before turning around to hike back.

(Notice the layer in the rock–Gaelyn says it an ancient algae layer. I say gorgeous!)

We walked out on top of this overhang, which is where Gaelyn is standing near the edge in a previous photo. I still can’t get my head around how all these layers were formed.

(Me on the way down, at the Cape Final sign)

I have heard lots of people say they are afraid of heights, but I am not. I love going close to the edge and looking over. Last year, I was talking to a visitor, who said it was not that she was afraid she might FALL, it was that she was afraid that she might JUMP! I had never heard that before. So, if it were you, would you be more afraid you would fall, or that you would jump?

Guess Who Is In Town?

The bull bison I saw last week was scoping out the territory for his family. This morning when I went out to the entrance station, there they all were. And I had my camera this time:


When I drove up, they started running. What an amazing sight to see them all turn in unison and stampede across the meadow!

The whole herd stayed out there most of the day. They caused a “Buffalo Jam”, with tourists stopping to take pictures, parking all over the place, even leaving their cars in the road to get out and get closer.

The buffalo wandered around the meadow, sometimes going all the way over to the trees, sometimes coming back close to the road. Here they are all bunched up by the entrance sign:


When I had no cars coming, I watched them with binoculars. They really are amazing animals. I got lots of questions from visitors:

Are they wild? yes. Do they stay up here all winter? no. Where do they go when it gets cold? I have no idea, but probably down in the canyon. Have they birthed their young yet? I think so, because when I was out there this morning I saw some calves. How many are there? About 80 of them. Are they dangerous? yes, if you make them mad, they can charge you.

I hope I get to see them again soon.

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