Through Foreign Eyes - Spring/Summer 2009 travel blog


Phantom Ranch


balancing rock

bridge over the Colorado River

distant Colorado River

enjoying the view






After a quick and easy drive we arrived at the Grand Canyon so early, we feared that the reserved campsite would still be occupied by someone else. No problem. We drove right in to a level, spacious site so close to the rim of the Grand Canyon that we can walk there. What a great location. The first order of business was to check in with the mule ride desk, which involved getting last minute instructions and getting weighed. We have been dreading this moment for months, but the two of us who were sure that we weighed less than 200 pounds passed the scale test and the other will stay behind to take photos of us as we ride halfway into the canyon tomorrow.

Then it was on to the fun, taking in as many views of the canyon as daylight would allow. The canyon is huge and the park is arranged so that a short drive brings you to yet another great viewpoint. The west end of the park which has limited parking is only viewable via a shuttle, so we'll save that for another day. Halfway through the drive those darn rain clouds began to gather once again, so we took a siesta back at the campground until the blue sky reappeared and drove from one viewpoint to another oohing and aahing. After we came home and looked at all the great photos we had already taken, it may have been a good thing to take a few hours off from the photography.

The canyon is hard to describe and due justice to with mere words. It is 277 miles long and over a mile deep. Even if we drove every road, hiked down to Phantom Ranch at the bottom and drove 215 miles to the North Rim which is only about ten miles away as the crow flies, we still would hardly scratch the surface of this immense hole. It is so huge with a myriad of nooks and crannies and many different layers that have been revealed as the Colorado River carves its path to the center of the earth. Some rocks erode much more quickly than others and create fanciful shapes that tickle the imagination. As the sun moved and the rain clouds gathered, the light and colors changed. You could stay an one overlook all day and see a million different views. At home we rarely think about geology, but here the mind roils as we try to comprehend how all this came to be. Coronado, the first European to see this place, must have been flabbergasted as the Indians brought him to the rim. We've at least seen photos and films of the place and even then Hartmut said that the canyon was not at all what he had imagined.

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