Day Eleven  
    Saturday, September 4, 2004
    Grand Canyon National Park: North Rim
Howdy Pard
Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four
Day Five
Day Six
Day Seven
Day Eight
Day Nine
Day Ten
Day Eleven
Day Twelve
Day Thirteen
Day Fourteen
Day Fifteen
Day Sixteen
Day Seventeen
Happy Trails
One national park.
Frank with clean laundry.
Czech game, Quarters.
Hana at entrance to tunnel.
Blue corn chips for lunch.

We slept in and are shooting for going to breakfast at 9:00 a.m. (8:00 a.m. AZT). The expected high today is 80 degrees F., and sunny.

9:00 a.m. (8:00 a.m. AZT)
We had breakfast at the Lodge, in the dinning room. They seated us at a table for four right near the windows so that we had a great view of the Canyon and the morning sun playing across the ridges. We wanted to make sure that Mirek and Hana had at least one meal in the Lodge, because its log structure is so interesting and amazing and the views are so exciting.

Brighty the donkey.Anne, Mirek, and I had the breakfast buffet. Hana had a bagel. There were many Czech workers in the dinning room, and one by one they came over to speak with Mirek and Hana. They all seemed excited to speak to someone from their homeland. Anne and I paid $20.36 for our breakfast; Mirek and Hana paid $13.91 for theirs.

After breakfast we walked around the Lodge a bit, then out onto the patio to look over the edge. We then walked to the post office where Hana mailed her postcards. After that we looked around in the gift shop, bought several t-shirts, and other items.

10:00 a.m. (9:00 a.m. AZT)
Because it was still pretty chilly out, we decided to do the laundry first, before we hike into the Canyon. Once again the sky is clear blue. We drove to the laundromat near the General Store and while Anne and Hana started the laundry Mirek and I walked to the short distance to the store to get quarters for the machines. Mirek mentioned that he wanted to buy an American dollar coin. But the store clerk said they didn't have any.

While we waited for the laundry we all played a Czech card game called Quartet. It was simple (which is good for me), and fun, and Anne won. I got lucky and came in second. Because our loads were almost finished we didn’t play a second game. It took 1.5 hours to do the laundry, but it didn’t seem that long because of the game and the good company.

We drove back to the rooms and changed to go hiking into the canyon. But when we got to the trailhead there were no parking spots available. We had to drive back to the laundry to park and walked along the bridal trail to the trailhead. That probably added an extra half-mile to our day’s hike. Along the way we spotted a young female mule deer just off the trail. She didn’t seem too concerned about our presence.

Hike out? Now?The North Kaibab Trail going down from the North Rim is rocky and broken by the hooves of the mules. The trail also seems to be covered in more mule dung and urine than I remember from previous hikes along this route. There was some wind, but the air was warm, especially when we were in the sun. We walked down to Supai Tunnel (1.7 miles one-way). There is a set of composting restrooms down there, and drinking water. It is the spot where the mules from the North Rim turn around to head back up.

We walked to a point just through the tunnel. We took a few photos and returned to the north side and had a quick snack break then headed back up. As expected, the going up was tougher than the going down, but not really that bad. We saw squirrels along the way, and two mule trains coming down. We also saw a 78 year old man who has walked across the canyon 25 times, but is on his first rim-to-rim-to-rim hike.

There were many day hikers, a few backpackers, and some tourists along the trail. Anne and I walked ahead at our slightly faster pace, but I had to stop because of stomach cramps.

Mirek holding back the walls of the canyon.At point Mirek and Hana caught up with us and went on ahead. But we soon passed them again and Anne went ahead and I moved along steadily and we waited for them at the trailhead. At the trailhead we were interviewed by a woman who is working for the park. She asked us questions about our hiking habits and the trail. Mirek and Hana walked on up the bridal trail and met us at the Trooper.

We drove back to the main parking area where we had a hard time, once again, finding a place to park. We finally found a spot in front of a huge RV. Mirek was fascinated by the 35 foot vehicle. We gathered our things, cleaned up and changed our clothes, then returned to the Trooper and had a picnic on a blanket nearby, along the rim.

4:00 p.m. (3:00 p.m. AZT)
The picnic went well but for a large camper. The owners had left their diesel engine running. And, of course, the noise and fumes drifted our way, spoiling the quiet and fresh air. The owners weren’t even around. Eventually they came back and let their four dogs out to poop and then put them back in and left the engine running and walked off again.

We ate our usual midday meal of lunch meat and cheese and lettuce on a roll with chips and olives and baby carrots, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for dessert. Hana once again enjoyed her blue corn chips.

After we put our picnic things away we walked to the Lodge patio on the east side and found a bench where the four of us could sit and watch the sun go down across the canyon. This normally would have been a peaceful experience, but there had been a wedding at the Lodge and another group of cross-canyon hikers was there from Phoenix. Between the two groups there was an exceptional amount of noise and loud talking, especially once they all got to drinking. There was just too much noise to make it relaxing, and the group from Phoenix didn’t seem t care that the rest of us were there to enjoy some peace and relaxation.

We did see a small chipmunk on the patio wall a couple of times. And the view was spectacular, of course.

Mule instruction sign.Anne and I left Mirek and Hana for a short while, at one point, to go to the Visitor Center. We wanted to talk to the rangers about the condors, to make sure we were right about our sightings. The woman behind the counter confirmed our information, and mentioned that number 50 had been sighted on this side of the canyon earlier today. She gave us a brochure that talks more about the birds.

8:00 p.m. (7:00 p.m. AZT)
After the sun set on the canyon we walked back to the rooms and turned in for the night.

The day had turned out to be clear and warm, with some occasional breezes. We noticed that gas is $2.43 per gallon at the park gas station. It’s a good thing we don’t need gas.