Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Grand Canyon

In the month of February 2010 we first decided to go to Yosemite, but somehow we couldn’t make it. So we changed our plan and decided to go to Grand Canyon.  In my school days I read that the Grand Canyon is the deepest canyon in the world. However according to recent studies that The Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon (or Tsangpo Canyon), along the Yarlung Tsangpo River in Tibet, China, is the deepest canyon in the world at 18,000 feet and is slightly longer than Grand Canyon making it one of the world's largest. But The Kali Gandaki Gorge in mid-west Nepal is seen by others to be the deepest canyon, with a 21,000 foot difference between the level of the river and the peaks surrounding it.

Anyway when my husband suggested visiting Grand Canyon I agreed in no time.  My childhood dream was going to be fulfilled. Actually in my childhood I loved to read all travelogues and imagine myself at all those places. This time I didn’t need to imagine but was going to find myself in that place in reality. It was winter that time and with my toddler son I was not very confident to make a successful trip. Moreover it was 500 miles drive from our home which was going to take 8 hours. My biggest problem was to make my son to sit in his car seat. 

02/13/2010

On February 13th on our journey day we woke up at 5:30 in the morning. We got ready very fast and when we started it was exact 6:22 in the clock. Since morning my little son was well behaved. He didn’t make any problem. When we started my son fell asleep so there was no problem at least in the starting. We stopped at Barstow to have our breakfast at ‘Big Boy’. The breakfast in buffet was very good. As we started our journey my son became very cranky so we had to take another break. Major part of the entire route was through desert. I couldn’t stand that barren land for long time, my heart was longing to see some greenery. Both of us were waiting eagerly to reach Williams. We were relieved a lot as we reached Williams because another 60 miles remained to reach the hotel. In the mean time we needed to take another break for my son. It was 3:30 when we reached our hotel Holiday Inn.

Snow covered Kaibab Forest on the way


We freshened up very quickly and had some food. At 4:30 in the evening, though it was quiet late we went to the canyon through the south entrance of the park. As it was winter time there was no chance to go to the North Rim. We could only go to South Rim which is usually accessible in the winter. First we went to the Visitor Center to gather some information then we drove up to Bright Angel trail head in the Historic District of Grand Canyon Village .The cold was beyond description. With heavy jackets and gloves I was feeling to have extra shield to keep me warm. The facility of taking the trails on mule was a good option. I liked that. However we didn’t try that. We reached near Grand Canyon railway tracks and the Grand Canyon Depot. We started talking about the station and the track and my husband missed the parking area.

Lookout Studio


There was no option of going backward or making a ‘U’ turn so we had to make a round to come back to the same position. We were not lucky enough to see the Engine number 18 which was built dated back to 1800s’ and currently restored. The train normally arrives at Grand Canyon around noon or so and departs for Williams again at around 4:00 PM. It operates every day during from late spring through early autumn and on weekends only during the rest of the year. I read that it is a nightmare to park car in the tourist season so it was advised to keep car in Williams and to take the up to the Canyon. Anyway from there we went towards Lookout Studio on the left. On the right there was El Tavor hotel which was built in 1905. Continuing left along the rim trail from the Bright Angel trailhead we passed the Bucky O'Neil cabin and the Lookout Studio before coming to the Kolb Studio. The Kolb studio was originally built and operated by the Kolb brothers, Emery and Ellsworth, and has a very interesting history. Emery and Ellsworth Kolb were best known for being the first men to make a motion picture record of the Colorado River throughout its entire course through the Grand Canyon. Lookout Studio was constructed by the Sante Fe Railway in 1914 and was established as a photography studio to compete with Kolb Studio. I wanted to go inside these historic buildings to take a look but our short time didn’t permit me. Also I want to get the experience of the spectacular sunset on the canyon. The changing color of the rocks of the canyon with sunset created a heavenly environment. After that I wanted go on the trail but we dropped the plan due to heavy ice and cold. Also my son wanted to go back. We started our journey back to the hotel in pitch dark. Around 7:30 in the evening we reached our hotel. Before going to the hotel we went to I-MAX Theater to enquire the timing of the Grand Canyon Movie. We decided to watch the movie next day. After dinner I read about the Grand Canyon from the leaflet which we received at the canyon entrance. From there I came to know about the rocks of Grand Canyon. The latest layer was known as Kaibab Limestone which was formed 250 million years back. And oldest layer was known as Vishnu Schist which was formed 1700 to 2000 million years back. Our next day’s plan was to go to Meteor Crater which was 175 miles from Grand Canyon.

Mystical sunset

02/14/2010

We woke up early and had a hearty breakfast in the Hotel. When went to start our journey we found that our car was covered with snow flakes!!! Then my husband switched on the heater to defrost. When we started our journey the road was totally invisible due to dense fog. I was really afraid of the then condition. With time fog started getting clear. Our plan was to come back within 11:30 in the morning. When we reached Meteor Crater, though it was sunny but it was chilling cold. My husband received a $4 discount for his membership of AAA when he bought the tickets. Before I had been watching the movie about meteor we went to see the museum there. My husband couldn’t watch the movie as our son didn’t wantus to enter the movie hall. The small movie was very informative as it told how the crater was created. According to scientific discovery, 50,000 thousand years ago, meteoric mass weighing several thousand tons hurtled through the space and impacted with the earth. The speed was approximately 26,000 miles per hour. The meteorite crossed Germany to New York within 5 minutes and within few second hit the desert of Arizona. As a result of the hit, in few seconds a crater was created measuring 700 feet deep and 4000 feet across. Due to the erosion the depth became 550 feet.

Mateor Crater


The meteorite was combination of iron and nickel. A small fragment was found 3 miles away from the crater in Diablo Canyon which was kept in the museum.  After the movie we went to see the crater with our guide John. He told us about the creation and the history of the crater. The crater museum was obtained by D. M. Barringar in 1903. It was first thought that the crater was created due to volcanic eruption. But he was the first person who told that the crater was created due to meteor impact. He thought that precious metals were deposited there. He tried to get the fortune by drilling through 26 long years. John led us through the trail halfway of the periphery of the crater. He showed us the remaining of the drilling machines. Years ago the crater was filled up with water and for pumping water pipelines were also established. The pipelines were abandoned because Coconino sandstone used to get contaminated with water, whose remains could be seen there. Also the ruins of the old visitor center could be seen there which was destroyed by wind. The crater consisted of Moencopi sandstone, Kaibab Sandstone and Coconino Sandstone. The Hopi Indians were the original habitat of the area. Another information John gave us about the San Francisco Peaks which was broken into two due to earthquake. We started from there at 12:30 pm, one hour late from our schedule. My husband drove really fast. We reached our hotel within 2 hours. After coming back to the hotel we hurriedly got ready and set out for the canyon again.

At Desert View Point


 This time we decided to go to the east side of the south rim and drove up to The Desert View. That was the best place I found in the canyon. Nature’s one of the most spectacular offerings can be seen from there. The most amazing fact is that all the layers of the rocks which were formed in different times are very much distinguishable. I was completely blown away by the amazing view of the Colorado River from the historic watch tower which was built in 1930. The Colorado River is the 4th deepest river in the world. Previous day when I had been talking to my parent’s over the phone my father became very excited to know that we were in Grand Canyon.

Colorado River from Desert View Point

Anyway my husband didn’t want to go upstairs in the watch tower as it was too high so I went alone. In the small museum in the watch tower I found the art work of the Hopi who were the original habitat of Grand Canyon. Many facts about the canyon and the Hopi could be known from the museum.  From there we started for Navajo point. Before coming to Tusayan museum and ruins we also took brief stop at Minal point. The ruins of the small Anasazi village were dated back to 1100’s.  Historians speculated that about 30 people lived there only for quarter of century. But to my great disappointment I couldn’t see anything as it was totally covered by snow. The Tusayan museum provided a glimpse in to the Pueblo Indian life. The arrowheads, pottery, jewelry, fabrics were the some of the exhibits. The five major tribes which was associated with Grand Canyon were Havasupai, Hopi, Hualapai, Navajo and Paiute. That time we were getting late so instead of getting down at Moran point we directly went to the Grand view point. There my son became too excited after seeing a dog!!!!! My husband suggested seeing the sunset from there. We waited for sometime but there was no sign of that. As we decided to watch the movie in IMAX we came back to the hotel. After coming back to I felt so tired that I asked my husband not to go out. My husband was very interested to watch the movie but after seeing my poor condition he abandoned the idea of watching the movie.

Snow covered Rim Trail Head


02/15/2010

Next day I woke up early to pack our bag. We got ready very fast and went to Yaki point at quarter past seven. When we reached there the place was totally empty. The cold was beyond my imagination. First time in my life I felt that intensity of sub-zero temperature. My fingers became numb. From there we went to the Mather point which is the South Kaibab trail head. In the gentle light of the morning the canyon was undoubtedly appealing. From the South Kaibab trail we went up to a mule stable. It was very difficult to walk in the snow covered path. Many times I slipped tough fortunately I never fell. I went further alone and saw a snow covered extremely dangerous trail downwards to the Colorado River. The trail is broad enough for a single person and moreover one wrong step could be fatal. I saw footsteps there. It was really hard to imagine how people could take that much risk of their lives. Might be those people were extremely adventurous. From there we went to the Visitor center again. From there we went to two other points whose name I didn’t know. The breathtaking view of the canyon completely captivated me. I couldn’t take a single trail in the total tour so I was dying to take one. Actually it was not possible to take any trail as we had a small baby with us. Taking him in our arm and walking on the snow covered path was impossible to us. We saw a trail and I made my husband to take that trail. After sometimes we realized that we had been walking on the Rim Trail, the largest trail in Grand Canyon. It was not possible for us to complete the hike. We came back to the hotel and got ready and we set out for home at 10:45 in the morning. First 100 miles of our journey my son sat alone in his car seat on the back of the car. It was the first time he sat alone for such a long time. We stopped at Kingman for a while. Then again we stopped at Barstow for evening snacks. Although it was tiring, the journey was smooth until we reached freeway 15. It took one and half hour due to heavy traffic. Not only our son,  we also started feeling agitated. At last we reached home at half past seven in the evening.

Hopi Art






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