Sunday, December 09, 2012

From State Park to National Park

After spending pretty much the brighter part of the day at Valley of Fire State Park, we passed through Lake Mead and Hoover dam to reach Grand Canyon National Park.  We didn't really stop at Lake Mead except for a couple of stopovers to find a restaurant for we were terribly hungry.  To our misfortune, it was Thanksgiving day and every damn restaurant was closed.  We then made a stopover at Hoover dam, one of those incredibly hyped up places which I felt was absolutely boring.  I don't know why there was so much crowd there and were going gaga over the place.  Thankfully we went just before dusk, the golden hour for photography and I managed to get a couple of good shots of the bridge and its shadow.  Hoover dam could be safely skipped while driving from Vegas to Grand Canyon to save time.  

We drove straight for an hour and half before we stopped at Kingman for dinner, which was the first big meal of the day.  We devoured our food, grabbed some gatorade for the next day's hike and drove straight to Holiday Inn Express near Grand Canyon village and checked-in.   The next morning we were up by 7 and binged on the free breakfast provided by the hotel before reaching the parking near Bright Angel trail head.  Our plan was to hike down South Kaibab trail and climb up Bright Angel trial, a total of about 15 miles.  We then took a shuttle to Yaki point where the South Kaibab trail head is located and started the hike at 9 in the morning, a bit too late to start the hike.  It was chilly and trail was dusty, pretty much descending all the way till Colorado river.  The canyon walls were very colourful, but it was not the right time for photography for the sun was too bright.  I had a light ligament tear on my left knee which had a history of two severe ligament ruptures. It took a while for me come out giddiness and I hiked really slowly.

It takes a while before Colorado river comes into vista, one has to pass through a short tunnel to reach the suspension bridge to cross the river.  Phantom ranch was just a few minutes of hike from there and the team was waiting for us there.  We relaxed for about half hour at Phantom ranch, which has got a small canteen serving basic stuff and few rooms to stay.  Our return path was through Bright Angel trail which needs another suspension bridge to be crossed.  Bright Angel trail is nicer than South Kaibab for we saw many rivulets along the trail and has varieties of vistas.  The last strech of the hike is a ruthless ascent which get really tiring and with my messy knee condition it was worse.  The canyon looked splendidly red at the golden hour and few more minutes it was all dark, we had to use our flash lights at the last stretch.  It took us nearly 8h40m to finish the hike.  Thanks Ying for all her patience and hiking at snail pace with me and Hao for lending his hiking poles. We started driving back and stopped at Williams for dinner.

Grand Canyon definitely lives up to the hype and undoubtedly a must visit, however, with all due respect to Grand Canyon I still feel Copper Canyon of Chihuahua was a lot nicer with a beautiful train journey leading up to the edge of the canyon, the colourful Tarahumaras bringing life to the canyon, delicious and rich Chihuahua cheese and beef.

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