1. After leaving the Zion-Mt Carmel Highway (Highway 9) at about 8.30 am (8 June, Day 22), we headed for Kanab, Fredonia and Jason Lake before arriving at North Rim of Grand Canyon. Fredonia was a more developed town with more tourist accommodation but was puzzlingly quiet when we reached there. We stopped at a corner cafe along the town's main street for a breakfast break. A check at a timber lodge at Jason Lake revealed that rooms were still available but we decided to see if we could book into the 1928 Grand Canyon Lodge (rebuilt in 1937 after a fire) at North Rim instead even though we were aware that our chance was not high.
2. When we arrived at the car park of the North Rim Visitor Centre and Grand Canyon Lodge in late morning it was clear that we were already getting into the peak summer season. The car park was packed. Also, bus loads of tourists were disembarking. Instantly, we knew our chance of staying at the Lodge was dismally small. While I gathered map and brochures from the Visitor Centre, Li Hoon checked the Lodge. The staff at the Lodge reception desk told us to check again at 3 pm to see if there was vacancy. We agreed that we would check again but we also agreed that our chance was more like 0.0001%. The views from the Sun Room of the Lodge and the nearby lookout points were just awesome.
3. The Grand Canyon is a steep-sided gorge carved by the Colorado River in the state of Arizona. It is 277 miles long, ranges in width from 4 to 18 miles and attains a depth of over a mile (6000 feet). The uplift of the Colorado Plateau some 65 mil years ago was uneven, causing the North Rim to be about 1000 ft higher than the South Rim. As a result, the North Rim is cooler than the South Rim and North Rim is closed mid-Oct to mid-May while South Rim is open all year. Although the North Rim and South is just 10 miles apart as the raven flies, it is 215 miles by road.
4. As we had catered one day for Grand Canyon (vowing that we would be back some day), we decided to visit the North Rim only. Our target was to be back in Madison by 18 June. From Zion, it was a shorter distance to North Rim. Also, we were told by a fellow traveler couple that the views from the North were more spectacular.
5. Our first stop at the North Rim was Point Imperial (8803 ft), after traveling N and then E from the Visitor Centre. We had lunch at the picnic area before enjoying the visiting the various lookout points.
3. Traveling along the Rim, our next stop was Roosevelt Point.
4. At the end of this Rim road we came to Cape Royal and Angels Window, hiking a trail of 0.6 mil on a relatively flat paved trail that provided great views of the canyon, Angels Window, and the Colorado River. It was from here that we could see the Colorado River (only a very small section was visible); the only point on the North Rim where this is possible. Here we were, at the Cape Royal Overlook. Standing up there, with steep cliffs falling on all sides was quite an experience. It was scary, especially when the wind picked up speed. The ledge is actually above the Angels Window.
5. Hiking the Cliff Springs Trail was next, after Cape Royal. It took a couple of turnarounds for us to locate the trailhead of the Cliff Springs. The signage board was exceptionally small. It's a 1 mile trail, that would about 1 hr to complete. The path took us down a forested ravine, along a narrow path next to an almost vertical wall before we arrived at large overhang. The spring was on the far side of the overhang, rather small and inconspicuous. Here, it was getting there that was exciting, not the objective itself. Beside the spring was this distinctive tall petrified tree.
Along the way, we passed this ancient Indian granary.
6. We were happy that we did this Cliff Springs Trail. It was an interesting hike. It was also good exercise.
7. As we marveled at the scenery from the various vantage points, I wondered if we could hike from one rim to the other. Its 10 miles across but 6000 ft down and up. I understand such a hike is available - 3 days, 2 nights, to cross the canyon. It sounded frightening (esp at my age) but tempting. Who knows, maybe next time, to be able to look up the canyon walls from the floor and Colorado River. After seeing Zion, I could try to visualize the magnificent sight.
8. It was close to 4 pm when we returned to Grand Canyon Lodge. As expected, it was full. We expected it so we were not disappointed. We had coffee at the nearby Cafe and decided to press ahead to Page, near Lake Powell, to stay the night before proceeding to Mesa Verde National Park the next day. We expected to reach Page before 7 pm.