Overheated summer hikers at Grand Canyon sometimes receive some counterintuitive advice from those in the know -- wait until dark. Before pushing uphill that is. Nocturnal travel is nothing new to the Canyon's many desert critters, and is much more desirable than wilting in triple digit temperatures. The views under a full or near-full moon are less spectacular than during daylight hours, but visibility is amazing and the experience surreal. I would only recommend this type of endeavor on trails that you are familiar with. And don't forget the flashlight (and spare batteries) in case the clouds move in. Personally, it's the one hike when I don't feel guilty leaving my camera at home.
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
I spent this past weekend on the North Rim. Although just ten air miles away from my daily life on the South Rim, the quickest way to arrive by vehicle takes at least four hours. But, oh, is it worth the effort. The North Rim towers over the South Rim by 1,000 feet. This extra height welcomes nearly twice the rainfall, and supports a much more lush forest -- one that includes aspen, fir and spruce, not to mention the North Rim's famous high-altitude meadows. The vibe in both visitors and employees is more laid back than the bustling Grand Canyon Village, and the pace is a gear or two slower too. The wildflower bloom was a sight to behold, though I was a month or two early for the changing of the leaves. The remote nature of the North Rim (and resultant meager visitation), combined with its harsh winter, have led the park service to shut down the tourist infrastructure from November through April each year. If you've never visited, don't wait any longer. If you've been there before, hurry back!