2004 - March - Mariners Spring Training - Grand Canyon

by Scott  

March 30, 2004 - Tuesday

After breakfast, we packed up, checked out and headed for the Grand Canyon, it?s about a 4-hour drive. Check in time is 1600, we got there a little early, but our room was ready-what luck! We settled in, then did some walking around. We walked to Mather Point, and just like last year, when I got to where we could see the canyon, I got felt this incredible sense of awe at the size and majesty of the canyon. It literally forced me to take a deep breath. No picture can capture this. And because the rim is so flat, you don?t see the canyon until you are a few feet away from the edge. We walked over to the Information Center to find out about shuttle times, snakes, and the hike we wanted to do. The Ranger we spoke to went pretty overboard in his information; i.e., description of scorpion bites (like taking a sledge hammer, heating it to red hot and slamming it down on your hand as hard as possible, then feeling intense waves of pain going up to your brain). Put me on the next bus home!! He discouraged us from taking the hike we wanted to do, but in retrospect, I think his intent here was good. We went briefly through the bookstore, then walked back to the Market Place and looked at souvenirs. Things were pretty pricey, we did get food for breakfast and lunch, then went over to the cafeteria/gift shop. We had supper there then walked back to our room.

 

March 31, 2004 - Wednesday

We got up at 0600, ate breakfast, packed our fanny packs and were on our way to the shuttle at 0730. We caught the 0800 and started down the South Kaibab Trailhead (7200 feet) at about 0815. Beautiful views, switch-backing trail, very dry. Our first stop was at Ooh Aah Point (I wonder who names these things), ¾ mile (6320 feet) down from the trailhead. From there, more switchbacks and many stair-like areas along the trail, this helps with the elevation drop but harder to hike. Next stop Cedar Ridge, 1.5 miles, 6060 feet. This is plateau-like, views in all directions, turkey vultures soaring overhead. McNeill butte is straight ahead, also the outhouses. Onward and down, more switchbacks to Skeleton Point at 3 miles, 5200 feet. We could see the Colorado River from here but still pretty far down. At this point we had to decide to go back or continue. We?ve been hiking for 1 hour and 45 minutes. We decided to go on-smart decision??-time will tell. More switchbacks, pretty steep, this area is called the reds and whites because of the color of the rocks. We saw flowering cactus, red, and a lizard doing push-ups (in this heat??-what is he thinking). There are huge caves on the right with chimneys inside, mica rock just off to the right side of the trail. We encountered a mule train just after the switchbacks, around the bend and to the left. Two riders and? 8 mules with packs. We think they are hauling supplies/garbage out from the ranch at the bottom. Next stop, Tonto Trail junction, 4.4 miles, 4010 feet. We ate lunch on a rocky point above the Colorado, beautiful!! We had planned to turn back here but could see that just another .5 miles would take us to a red sand, rock area even closer to the Colorado River; so we continued on and we saw condors overhead. At Panorama Point, 5 miles, 3620 feet, we were just 11-1200 feet above the river and could see the suspension bridges that cross it. Plus, the scenery looking back was totally different from what we had seen going forward, so many landscapes and changes. We have been hiking 3 hours and 15 minutes. Time to head back.

Now the trip out, one foot in front of the other, steady pace. We were grateful for some overhead clouds. It took us about 4 hours and 25 minutes to hike out; Scott did not fare well but made it to the top looking pretty gimpy and exhausted.

We walked back to out room, downhill thank goodness. Scott showered and collapsed on the bed. I showered, washed my hiking shirt, etc, read for a bit and then we went over to the cafeteria to eat. We got back to our room and were asleep by 2030. Toughest hike we have ever done, I think.

 

April 1, 2004 - Thursday

We got up around 0700, showered, packed, went to breakfast and were on our way to Sedona by 1000. We took 89A from Flagstaff, shorter and more scenic, it follows Oak Creek down through a canyon. We stopped for lunch at the Dairy Queen, which has a novel western décor. The Navajo had tables with jewelry, pottery, etc, set up outside, so we looked through that before we left. I found a turtle to add to my collection. Next we went to the Ranger station to get our Red Rock pass and check out trails and weather for tomorrow. We stopped at Telaquepaque to check out a Mexican restaurant the Marilyn Cook had recommended. We think it was El Rincon so we looked at the menu-looks good! We checked in at the motel and went back to Telaquepaques, walked around and looked at some of the shops, then went to supper at El Rincon-it was very good. We got a table outside, good margueritas, we had chimichangas with guacamole salad. We stopped at Safeway to get a sandwich for our hike tomorrow, we had already gotten apples in Surprise, $.99/pound from Washington. Cheaper here than they are at home.

 

April 2, 2004 - Friday

We got up at 0700 to rain-are we in Seattle? Not just showers, but rain. A downpour in some areas and the sky looked socked in. We?re thinking we just aren?t supposed to hike in Sedona, last year it snowed! We dressed for hiking anyway just in case, and did some car sight seeing. We drove out Dry Creek Road to several trailheads, then came back and went south to Cottonwood. Along historical 89A in Cottonwood, Scott spotted a huge number of turkey vultues in the trees overhead. We counted at least 28 congregated, many sitting with their wings spread. We followed 89A to the Tuzigoot National Monument (our annual park pass got its first use). The Sunaqua Indians settled this area along the Verde River in 1000 AD, built lodging on the hillside, farmed the area, then disappeared for unknown reasons in 1425 AD. After Tuzigoot, we went back to Sedona, the rain had stopped, so we drove out Dry Creek Road to the Boynton Canyon Trailhead, ate our lunch on the way, and headed out to hike while the weather looked good. We figure we hiked about 2-2.5 miles into the canyon, the sun came out for a while. We saw deer just 20 feet off the trail. Coming back, we met several groups going in, two who asked us if we?d found the ruins. We didn?t even know there were ruins, but didn?t didn?t see any evidence of any. It started to rain on the way out, but it didn?t matter, we got our hike in. We did detour and take the Vista Trail, about 1/3 mile up and into the red rock. On a clear day this would have been beautiful, but even with the clouds was worth it anyway. Then back to the car and back to the motel. Time to shower, then went to Olive Oyl?s Pizza for supper. We ordered a Greek salad for two, which was huge and very good. Also the Sedona pizza and Oak Creek Amber. Delicious pizza! Back to the motel to pack and organize. Everything fit in our bags!

 

April 3, 2004 - Saturday

Sunny and partly cloudy. We loaded up the car and were off to the airport. As always, vacation passes too fast!!

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