More in Depth
~Sunday, April 3, 2022~
Brrrr……a cold night. The trailer was a chilly 45 degrees this morning. Enjoying my coffee to the sound of 3 or 4 gunshots going off in the distance (must be hunters in the area). Hopefully no stray bullets in this direction.
Today, we leave our Sadie girl behind as we take the Hermit Road to the 9 scenic overlooks to Hermit’s Rest by bike (we took this trip the other day by shuttle). In total, the bike ride is a variety of downhills and uphills with no road traffic except for the shuttle buses that pass every 10 minutes. The rules are for cyclists to stop and pull to the side when you hear a shuttle approaching which is not always easy with the wind whipping by your ears.
There seemed to be more cyclists than we saw the other day, but being a Sunday may have had something to do with that. We managed to stop at EVERY lookout point this time around and it was nice to take a more
leisurely pace to gaze and learn more about the significance of each lookout point. It’s so amazing how each one, even the few that were only a half-mile apart,
can give you such a different perspective of the canyon by the shape, the layers, and the colors. We could even see the mighty Colorado River from different vantage points on the rim, sometimes appearing so calm, it seemed not to be moving. From other spots, it looked turbulent. But from all points, it looked chocolatey brown.
Spending more time at Powell Point today, we learned so much more about Powell’s famous and most dramatic expedition down the Colorado in 1869 with 9 men and 4 boats. It was the first investigation into the geology,
geography and water resource potential ever documented. Losing an arm in the Civil War did not dissuade an ambitious Powell to float more than 900 miles from the Green River in present-day Wyoming through the Grand Canyon to the confluence with the Virgin River to what is now Utah. From the onset, they were met with insurmountable challenges. Rations were lost quickly in the river, boats needed constant repair at every stop and supplies were lost. Three brothers, near the end, abandoned the expedition, fearing that the worst white water rapids to come would surely be a death sentence as opposed to crossing some 75 miles of desert with little food or water (mind you, there were no established trails in the canyon back then). They were never seen or heard from again. 24 hours later, Powell and his remaining men had finally left the Grand Canyon behind them, successfully making it through the roughest part of their journey. After 3 months, the remaining 6 men and 2 boats arrived battered and tattered. All in all, they had encountered 360 rapids in the harshest of conditions yet began a legacy and awareness of conservation and sustainability.
At Maricopa Point, we were able to see a few abandoned mines, once part of the Uranium frenzy that first struck the area in the 1950’s. Prospectors flocked to the region in search of the yellow dirt, mining Uranium for thirteen years at the Orphan Mine. In its wake has been a multi-million dollar clean-up effort of land contaminated by radioactive and other hazardous substances. Removal of the mining-related debris and equipment was completed in 2009 so that field investigation and soil sampling could take place. The upper mine area close to the walking paths on the rim is fenced to protect park visitors from potential exposure to radiation or other mine waste contaminants. The lower and middle mine areas are far off trail and nearly inaccessible to park visitors.
From Pima Point we could spot the location where an avalanche of rock and debris had fallen, down to the Colorado River back in 1987, all from a torrent of rain. This rock fall is what created the Granite Rapids, visible from the rim. At times, I swore I could hear the splash and the grind of the river below, echoing through the canyon walls.
Finally coming to the end at Hermits Rest, we couldn’t wait for our well-deserved Hagen Daz ice cream bar while learning more about what gave Hermits Rest its name. The location was named after Louis Boucher, a Canadian-born prospector, miner, explorer and guide in the Grand Canyon. Around 1891, he staked claims below present day Hermits Rest, living a life of solitude at nearby Dripping Springs where he set up a small tent camp and corral at the perennial water source. He continued to build trails, plant orchards and build small cabins until he left the area in 1912 seeing work at a coal mine in Utah. Remnants of that camp can be seen today via the Hermit Trail.
On the way down the 6% grade back to our car, we spotted about 8 wild horses mingled together, enjoying whatever patch of green they could find to nibble on. Of course there’s always the annoying tourist who doesn’t read the signs or use common sense, getting a little too close to the animal’s liking.
On our way out of the park, we needed to stop for a water fill up again, where we had the pleasure of seeing numerous elk enjoying their evening snack. With dusktime driving, we had to be extra vigilant about keeping to our 35 mph speed.
We’re just digging these $6.00 gas prices and the $8.00/gallon of milk insanity 😡. The Grand Canyon village is not the place to stock up so we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel for what food we have left. We should have enough to get us by until our big shopping day Wednesday as we head to our next destination.
Dinnertime couldn’t have come soon enough. A quick yet delicious dinner of grilled chicken for Jeff, asparagus, roasted potatoes, leftover soup and caramelized brussel sprouts for me did the trick. I guess those hills on the bike ride today, at 7,000 feet no less, made for 2 hungry, tired tourists by night’s end. Early to bed tonight!!