Go Far // Grand Canyon Part II

Last week I shared with you the first leg of our road trip to the Grand Canyon, and now on to Part II.

We woke up early at The South Rim Mather Campground and packed up the car for our 5 hour drive around the eastern end of the Grand Canyon to the North Rim.  We heard that the North Rim had less of those huge views the Canyon is known for, but a lot fewer people and so we were excited to go and see for ourselves.

Goofing around at Mather Point on our way out of the South Rim

Outside the South Rim

Crossing the Colorado

The North Rim is about 1,000 ft higher than the South Rim, so as we climbed the road the scenery changed to groves of tall shimmering aspen trees, and then about 40 miles from the park entrance we turned a bend in the road and come across the most idyllic meadow I've ever seen.  The Kaibab Plateau is a long area that is flanked by pines, fir, and aspen on either side, and these huge absolutely green grassy meadows.  I felt like Bambi himself was going to come frolicking about.  It was so unreal, it's like a Bob Ross painting decided to animate itself with all it's happy little trees.

Entering the park we definitely notices that everything was less crowded, by leaps and bounds.  Not that the South Rim wasn't enjoyable, because it totally was, but the North Rim felt private, quiet, and far less traveled.  We went for a short walk from our campsite to the Lodge and Bright Angel Point and soaked in what were certainly not any less spectacular views.  I would say that if you have to pick a rim to visit, go North.

Kaibab Plateau

Our campsite

Bright Angel Point

The next day we did a really lovely and mild 10 mile hike rim hike at Widforss, it took us through the woods and in and out of some great views.  There really is nothing like being at the edge of a great steep canyon and eating lunch with a good friend.  We hardly saw another person on the trail until we we just finishing up on our way back.  Getting started at sunrise always allowed us to have a lot of time on the trail by ourselves and then gave us a whole chunk of afternoon to relax with a book, nap, or go sightseeing.  I spent some time sketching out ideas for jewelry designs inspired by the days activities.

That night we got showered and gussied up to have dinner at the Lodge, a meal that was what you might expect.  Great service, good cocktail, middle of nowhere food.  We had ourselves a ball though, and then sat outside and watched the sunset afterwards.

Dressed up for dinner at the Lodge

Our last day at the North Rim I took off on a rigorous 9 mile hike to Roaring Springs on the North Kaibab Trailhead.  This was a gorgeous, quiet hike through some of the most beautiful parts of the canyon.  The trail was certainly more steep and rugged, and the climb back up was more intense that at the Bright Angel Trail at the South Rim.  I got back to camp and then Lynsey and I went to the lodge to sit in the Adirondack chairs, drink beers, play Gin and watch the sun go down.  It was heavenly.

Roaring Springs

North Kaibab Trail

A nice way to unwind after a long hike

Point Imperial, highest rim elevation in the park

Leaving the North Rim via the Kaibab Plateau
Next stop was Zion, a relatively close drive of only 2 hours.  Zion means 'refuge' and 'sanctuary', a name that is so absolutely well suited for the place.  We arrived at the park mid day when it was very hot, so instead of setting up camp we hopped on the shuttle and picked some trails we wanted to see. Lynsey was under the weather so we split up, she walked the River walk which is the beginning leg of the famed Narrows trail that is a watery walk up into a smooth walled canyon, and I went to Angel's Landing on the recommendation of some Instagram friends who told me not to miss it.

The majority of the switchback trail was gorgeous and lovely, but I was totally surprised when I reached what I thought was the summit and instead saw that the trail continued on... via chain railings and rock climbing.  It was so breathtaking, both in the beautiful views and the frightening drop offs.  I felt my heart beating rapidly in my chest and throat, more like the feeling of being on the verge of your crush leaning over to kiss you than from the sweat and exertion of it.  It was a totally thrilling and vertiginous climb, and at the final summit all the people who made it out to the point seemed like immediate friends. We all snapped photos for each other, and just sat looking out at the expanse of it all, soaking in the sun and feeling totally full.

Entering Zion

All major trailheads in Zion are accessed by foot or by shuttle 

Inspiring textures

Beginning of the wild climb to Angel's Landing

On the way up to Angel's Landing... you can get a sense of how big it is by seeing the little people off in the distance

The next day was our last day, and we debated going straight home or stopping along the way.  We stayed in Vegas for a night, but the real treasure of the trip was certainly our star-blasting night in the Mojave, the deep cutting trails in the Grand Canyon, and standing on so many summits in Zion.  It is such a lovely country to explore, and the quiet vastness of these places can hardly be described in words, and is incomprehensible even when you are there standing in the middle of it.  I felt so absolutely lucky to be alive and to see it, and grateful beyond belief that there places are ours to visit.  I can hardly wait to go back, I am already planning my next trip, possibly with some backpacking thrown in.  Until next time...

L O V E + M E T A L