Monday, November 9, 2009

Grand Canyon Day - Sunday

The drive to Flagstaff went well. It turned out the car had XM
satellite radio, which helped the drive. As L can attest, the music
is nice but the constant action of switching between stations is what
keeps me interested. Blues,80s,50s,NPR,comedy,90s,etc.

The Best Value Inn was nice enough. I was issued a key card and TV
remote control on a friendly checkin. The location was a little
problematic. Flagstaff must be a transportation hub because the train
whistle went off all night. It's not immediately present, but like a
housemate's alarm that rings when he is away, it's hard to ignore. I
slept on and at 5:30, I went with the early departure. Around 7, I
was at the south rim entrance. For complex yet legitimate reasons, I
am entitled to a lifelong national parks pass. I just recently
discovered this. I pulled up to the gate, showed the ranger a couple
of documents, and had the pass in a minute. It is worth thousands of
dollars, but the transaction was the quickest politest federal
interaction I have ever had.

After some wandering, I found a space next to the Bright Angel
trailhead, in my family's tradition. It was a little, so I started
with a fleece and pants, but I progressed to shorts and a shirt by the
middle of the day. I started at about 7:39
Top at rim, elevation 6860 ft
25 min first rest,shaky legs
50 minutes first rest house 5729 ft
1:40 second house, 3 mile mark 4748 ft
I noticed I had much less professional equipment than the standard:
hiking packs, ski poles-like walking sticks, shoes, fancy water

2:30 campground 3800 ft 4.5 mile mark
Plateau point 1.5 miles more. I saw the Colorado river! I didn't get
to touch it because would have required a lot of hilly climbing. That
was a very good choice, as proved by the next few hours.

3:15 plat point saw Colorado river
3:50 Back to campground
4:53 2nd Rest house 2000 ft up to go

I finished lunch, with the aid of kind strangers with water. They
implied I looked like I was at death's door.They also wanted to give
me some electrolytes. The truth is that I always look like I am at
death's door when I do intensive exercise. But the water was awesome.
I had planned to fill up at the taps I saw at the rest houses, but
they did not work (although they were not labeled as such).

6:12 1st rest house, 1000 vertical feet left
7:50 back to rim

The beauty and grandness of the descent into the canyon are that are
always new vista-you can't see everything. This is also the tragedy of
the ascent-you see a top and then a next top and then a next. You've
got a thousand vertical feet in between rest houses and it's hard to
know if there's 100 or 400 feet left. So when it's done, you are
elated that this isn't another trick.

Wonderful and inspiring views, yes, but the ascent makes everyone look
drained and sullen.

I was tired at the end. I drove to the nearest food place and drank a
lot of Coke.

Got the rental car returned with 17 min to spare (not counting 29 min
'grace' period).


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