I’ve spent the weekend in Phoenix with Ann and Lucy for a dance convention. Looking at Lucy’s schedule for Saturday, I realized that since she would be in class all day and didn’t start competing until 6:00 PM, that I had an opportunity to get out and Ramble. With the South Rim of the Grand Canyon being only 3.5 hours away from our hotel, I thought it’d be wrong to be within striking distance and not go. So, I set out at 11:00 PM on Friday night to catch the Ceremony of the Sunrise at the Grand Canyon on Saturday morning.
I parked my car on the South Rim of The Canyon at 2:30 AM on Desert View Drive. It was 33°. I climbed into the backseat, pulled my sleeping bag around me and gazed up and out the back window of my car into The Cosmos. If not for my plan to see the Sunrise, I may have just bundled up and spent the rest of the night outside Star Gazing. In fact, I’ll have to plan a Star Gazing trip of some sort soon, for what I saw and felt from the backseat of my car as I dozed off into sleep was the greatest sense of Awe, and something that I decided should be regularly experienced: Church.
I woke up at 4:45 AM in the predawn light. I was slightly panicked by how bright the sky was, thinking I somehow missed the Sunrise. I grabbed my bag and stepped out of the car, into the cold, onto the South Rim, and immediately started walking east towards Yaki Point. The Sun seemed to be rising fast, and without any previous experience here (and little research done) I stopped short of Yaki Point and instead took in the Sunlight landing upon The Canyon just past the South Kaibab Trail Head. It was incredible. After the Sun was up though, I eventually made my way to Yaki Point and realized why that location, with its views of the East Rim, would have been the best location to see the Sunrise. Definitely noted for next time.
At 6:15 AM, the day was already heating up, I stripped out of the layers I’d been in, and I started heading down the South Kaibab Trail. My destination, despite repeated warnings (posted online and on the Trail, itself) of not attempting such a strenuous out and back hike in one day, was the Colorado River, 6.3 miles down a very steep Trail. Many large groups had taken off long before me, but within an hour, I found myself breezing past most of them as they lounged around Cedar Ridge. Once I was free of the crowds, I found the Trail to be a Moving Meditation, a Sermon of Rock, Sky, Sun, Plant and River.
At 8:45 AM, my feet were in the Colorado River, and at 8:55 AM, I was hiking back up the Trail. The return trip was fairly demanding. I found myself stuck behind a mule team for a good portion of it, slowing me down as they stopped to rest regularly, but that was probably a good thing as I’d drink some water and tuck myself into any bit of shade I could find, resting my legs and waiting for the team to start moving again. I was finally able to pass them at 11:15 at Cedar Ridge and I was back out standing on the South Rim at 12:00 PM.
As I walked along the Rim Trail back to my car, I came upon a small group of Elk foraging. I stopped and took some video and photos, I got very close to them as they seemed very peaceful and at ease. I learned later that they are one of the most dangerous animals in the park and that they should be given a wide berth, something I really should have considered on my own. Another note for my next visit.
At 12:15 PM, I was in my car and heading back to Phoenix to watch Lucy dance.