turns out that super incredibly crazy-long drive was worth it in the end…we made it to the grand canyon in pretty good time, but first…the drive.
i’ve never taken this route – from the south end of the canyon and up. we started the day not far from the border of new mexico and arizona, and made our way through flagstaff and north from there. firstly, flagstaff is such a pretty town…i had no idea. i really got a sense of the university’s cultural dominance over the town, second only to the nature freaks everywhere…and most of the time these tend to be pretty compatible groups. i can’t speak to how friendly or otherwise the folks were because we didn’t stay. and i can confirm that in late october it is freaking COLD. but it totally reminded me of the little imaginary town in mr. rogers’ neighborhood that the little train takes you through on the many adventures in cardigans.
so we picked up some firewood in flagstaff (yes, ladies and gentlemen – this an example of not making the same mistake twice! for those of you who have no clue what i’m on about, see days ) and headed off on our way. it is beautiful, but i think what’s more profound is how drastically the landscape changes with altitude…first it’s really forest-y and full of trees and green, and then it’s flat and brown and trees are sparse. and the transition is somehow gradual and immediate – really weird.
we got to the entrance to the state park and made our way in without a hitch…we’d made a reservation so there would be no issues whatsoever, and it was a good choice. not far from the bathrooms, no neighbors…so we got out and put on about 6 more layers because it was FREAKING COLD…set up the tent, and still had time to go for a little hike! we opted for the south kaibob trail but only went down to oohahh point…i love that name…seriously beautiful views! then we walked along the rim trail, which just follows the rim of the canyon, for a little while, but as previously mentioned, it was stinking cold, and the sun was setting. so before too long we made our way back to our campsite and scrambled to pile on as many layers as we could, throw dinner together and drink a bit of wine, glance at the stars for a minute, and get in our sleeping bags!
next day was more of the same – we decided to throw our whole day into the hermit trail…we thought we’d head to santa maria springs – only 2 miles down, but it’s seriously slow moving as it’s really steep. in the end we hiked just past the springs and had lunch at the second best place – the best place was already taken…by a couple we let pass us! argh. oh well – it was such a great hike anyway…about 5 miles, and a little grueling at times, particularly for your truly due to my ‘extra baggage’…but we made it just in time to head to hopi point to see the sunset…what a delicious day.
alas, as the sun had set, getting back to the campsite was our priority. our last night officially ‘on the road’…i guess there was a vaguely melancholic breeze in the canyon that night, but we had so much still to look forward to…