A travel day between Page and accommodation at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, Arizona.
Little Colorado River Gorge, Yavapai, Condors, Grand Canyon
Today is a short-drive, travel day from Page, Arizona to new accommodation at Yavapai Lodge on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon about a mile (1.6 KM) east of Grand Canyon Village.
The day begins with breakfast and a couple of hours of solitude, sunbathing and swimming in the Page Quality Inn pool. By 10:15 AM the drive south on Hwy 89 begins with sweeping vistas to the west as the highway twists, turns and tumbles through spectacular canyons and open desert scenery. A stop near the top of 6,533 ft (1,991 m) Antelope Pass allows a photo of the Vermilion Cliffs in the distance.
The scenic drive continues south through Bitter Springs, Cedar Ridge and The Gap before turning west at Cameron onto scenic Highway 64 which will lead into Grand Canyon Village. The traditional stop at the Little Colorado River Gorge provides amazing views and a chance to tour the Navajo Indian marketplace. There is an entrance booth with a nominal charge.
The small entrance fee is paid willingly for a professionally published Navajo Nation Visitor Guide and admission to amazing markets and the spectacular viewpoint into the Little Colorado River Gorge.
Gentle fences channel visitors through the marketplace where amazing handmade jewelry, pottery and other crafts are on display. Past acquaintances from previous visits have moved on. They are remembered and missed. Past the markets are the viewpoints over the Little Colorado Gorge.
Arrival at Yavapai Lodge occurs at 1:30 PM. A walk to the core of Grand Canyon Village and wandering along the south are relaxing while settling into the familiar environment from many adventures past.
The condors are plentiful and quite active today. This huge, lazy scavenger, through careful breeding programs, is making a comeback from near extinction. Adult birds weigh around 35 pounds and have a 9 foot wing span. They spread their wings, step off a ledge into wind currents and soar gracefully through the sky.
The birds do not build a nest but instead deposit their egg in a cave. The folks in charge of the breeding program discovered if they steal the egg, and place it in an incubator soon after deposit, the parent bird would get confused.
'Where did I leave that egg?' and get busy producing another egg.
In this way they have been able to increase the flock more rapidly. Two weeks prior to arrival, one of the canyon pack mules died from a heart attack on the Bright Angel trail. They do not haul the carcass up, and they cannot leave it on the trail, so they just push it over the side. This explains why there are so many condors and turkey vultures in the area on this day. It is the circle of life.
Checking into the comfortable room at the south end of the west complex at Yavapai Lodge occurs at 4 PM. The accommodation is in a single level motel-like building. The room is large and comfortable with all the necessary amenities. For the next six days this room at Yavapai Lodge will be home.
At the nearby Back Country Information Center, in Grand Canyon Village, core information and intelligence is gathered. Tomorrow the long, anticipated hike on the Grandview Trail is on the agenda and a lot of drinking water will be required. Inner canyon temperatures are forecast at 105 degrees F in the shade and this heat can interrupt the availability of water from underground springs.
The destination spring is Miner's Spring (aka Page Spring), which has water but it is radioactive and contains 5 times the allowable amount of arsenic. The tiny amount of arsenic is inconsequential for the amount of water which will be used. As far as the radioactivity is concerned, if return from the depths of the Grand Canyon is not achieved, it may be easier to find the body glowing in the dark.
The Park Ranger at the Backcountry Office Information Center provides specific and important instructions to locate Caves of the Dome off the edge of Horseshoe Mesa. The trail for the unmarked route would have never been found without asking.
Most meals at Grand Canyon Village will be consumed at the Bright Angel Restaurant where many of the staff are like family. Several previous missions have occurred over many years.
Following supper, the drive 12 miles east on Desert View Drive is undertaken to scout the Grandview trail-head and enjoy the spectacular sunset. Tomorrow’s first major plunge into the Grand Canyon on the Grandview Trail will be an adventure which has been much anticipated for several years.
The Bright Angel Restaurant opens at 6 AM and it is customary to be the first through the door.