I have to admit things haven’t gone quite to plan the last couple of days. We intended to spend both days in and around Zion National Park. Although we did drive through Zion on Monday, we didn’t do much exploring within the park.
Our first distraction was a ghost town. To be fair, who wouldn’t be distracted by a ghost town? Especially one where they filmed part of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The ghost town in question was called Grafton. There’s not much of it left today…. but what there is really makes the fur stand up on the back of your neck. Like the cemetery where a whole family who were ‘Killed by Indians’ is buried.
After wandering around the remains of the village and grabbing some lunch it was suddenly 2 o’clock. So we decided save the heart of Zion for another day, although we did drive the incredible Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway, complete with all its switchbacks and tunnels.
All of the fun, excitement and long days caught up with us on Monday night. By 9 o’clock we were all ready to hit the hay. But of course, instead of getting a good long night’s sleep, we were all wide awake by 5:30 yesterday (Tuesday) morning. Some bright spark suggested, “Since we’re awake, we might as well go to the Grand Canyon.” So we did.
Less than 5 hours later, we turned on to the road leading to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. There in front of us was a great big sign saying, North Rim Closed. Prescribed Fires. Our hearts sank.
Our first reaction was to turn around. But between us and the park gate an unfound geocache was calling. If we couldn’t see the Grand Canyon, a First To Find would have to do (I’ve always been a glass is half full kind of Giraffeses). As we approached the cache, the doubt set in. Someone’s bound to have beaten us to it. Probably this morning, just to rub salt into our wounds. But no! We snagged our first FTF in Arizona.
Despite the earlier Bad News sign, we decided to press on to the Grand Canyon. We figured that even if the National Park was closed they’d be able to tell us whether it was worth coming back later in the week. As it turned out, this was a good decision. The park was open(!), although they were doing controlled burns.
It was weird driving through the park with smoke (which was quite thick at times) drifting around. We arrived at the Visitor’s Centre and hiked out to Bright Angel Point. (OK, as Phyllis let slip last time, we Ses were carried in the camera bag.)
The view that greeted us wasn’t what any of us expected. The entire Grand Canyon seemed to be full of mist. But of course it wasn’t mist, it was smoke from the controlled fires. We could barely make out any of the immense features within the canyon. It would have been really disappointing, if we hadn’t all (apart from Ernest) seen the Grand Canyon from the South Rim two years ago. As it was, we were able to enjoy a sight that few people get to experience… the whole section of canyon in front of us, goodness knows how many miles across, filled with smoke from rim to rim.
Perhaps even more incredible was watching the vast structures within the canyon slowly begin to appear as the smoke started to clear. It really was something very special and unique to witness.
Later in the afternoon we drove round to Cape Royal, part of which we have now renamed Heebeejeebee Point, after getting much closer to the edge than is sensible for someone with vertigo. It gives me the heebeejeebees just writing about it! That being said, the smoke-free views of this part of the canyon were magnificent. And to the west we could still see the last of the smoke, which had yet to disappear from the depths of the Grand Canyon.