California 2021:
Day 17 - Grand Canyon North Rim


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California 2021: [Day 1 - Chicago] [Day 2 - Route 66: IL] [Day 3 - Route 66: MO] [Day 4 - Route 66: OK] [Day 5 - Route 66: TX] [Day 6 - Route 66: NM] [Day 7 - Route 66: AZ] [Day 8 - Route 66: CA] [Day 9 - Route 66: CA] [Day 10 - Los Angeles] [Day 11 - Los Angeles] [Day 12 - Palm Springs] [Day 13 - Joshua Tree NP] [Day 14 - Death Valley NP] [Day 15 - Las Vegas] [Day 16 - Zion NP] [Day 17 - Grand Canyon North Rim] [Day 18 - Toroweap, Grand Canyon] [Day 19 - Page, AZ] [Day 20 - Durango, CO] [Day 21 - Great Bend, KS] [Day 22 - St. Louis, MO] [Day 23 - Heading Home]

Tuesday, November 16, 2021: We awoke briefly at 5:00 AM when the golf course sprinklers came on, spraying the patio with high pressure water. The sound of the water on the sliding glass door was very alarming. We had left our cooler on the patio to take advantage of the nearly freezing overnight temperatures, and realized that when sprinkers soaked had soaked it, any standing water remaining on it had frozen.
We were out of the motel and already on US-89 headed south by the time the sun rose.
Near the entrance to Cave Lakes Canyon, we passed this serene lake with a distinctive rock overhang.
As we reached the outskirts of Kanab, we passed Grand Canyon Expeditions, the company we will be using to go down the Colorado River in June 2022.
After 21 hours in Utah, we crossed back into Arizona. Sorry this photo is blurry but you'll be seeing this sign again very soon.
A few minutes later, we passed Western River Expeditions, our host for our two day trip through Cataract Canyon in 2019.
Our first destination today was Pipe Spring National Monument, and more specifically, we were going to the Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians Visitor Center to see their Stephen Mather plaque. A very helpful ranger told us that the Mather plaque was on the Ridge Trail which starts beyond the visitor center and the historic buildings in the distance.
Pipe Spring National Monument was named an International Dark Sky Park in March 2021. The monument itself sits within the Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians Reservation, which became an International Dark Sky Community in 2015. A dark sky area is a place that limits artificial light so that more of the stars in the night sky can been seen than would otherwise be the case.
Pioneer stoves are fascinating, and were seemingly built to last forever.
We started off to the right, and stopped at this low building, ...
... but we got distracted by the horns on this longhorn bull. Look at the size of those things.
There was another pen with a single horse in it.
The same helpful ranger who told us where the Mather plaque was told us that we could get to it faster if we walked the trail in the reverse direction. We were able to get to the plaque with a quick ten-minute walk that would have otherwise have taken much longer.
It was fitting that the Pipe Spring National Monument had a plaque, as one of the donors of the money to buy the land for the monument had been Mather himself.
We took some time exploring the grounds, ...
... including the amazing water courses for the spring that gives the place its name.
Inside the visitor center, we looked through the museum, ...
... and when we were leaving, the ranger that had helped us gave Debbie a printout of some information about Stephen Mather and about Pipe Spring National Monument. It was a very kind thing for him to do, and we appreciated it very much.
Headed back toward Fredonia, we passed the turn off for Toroweap Overlook, which we would be taking the next day.
The road to Toroweap is through the Arizona Strip, an area of land north of the Colorado River that is larger than several states but which has a population of fewer than 10,000 people.
Back on US-89, we stopped at the Le Fevre Overlook in Kaibab National Forest.
We stopped at this overlook earlier this year on our first trip to the Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument, ...
... and we wanted to look out at it again. It has really wonderful displays that help you understand ...
... why the Grand Staircase is named the way that it is.
Leaving the overlook, we passed through the remains of the Mangum Fire, which burned through this area in June 2020.
We stopped briefly at Jacob Lake Inn, ...
... to pick up cookies from their fantastic cookie counter along with some other snacks.
There were signs warning that the forest area and some roads were closed due to the recent fire.
That wouldn't affect us, since we were staying on the paved roads on our trip to our second destination today: the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Debbie had been here before in 1980, but it was Tom's first trip to the North Rim.
There were new growths of aspen trees, which we learned later had only started growing here after the fire 17 months ago.
Large areas had been burned, leaving broken and charred stumps behind.
As we drove further south, we stopped seeing burned trees and started to see more majestic old-growth forest.
This part of Highway 67 was adopted by Brad and Kathy Henningsen, who were further noted as Outstanding Volunteers. Congratulations!
This sign warned to be on the lookout for bison, but we didn't see any.
There were signs of recent snowfall at the edges of the meadows.
Just before 11 AM, we entered Grand Canyon National Park, ...
... which is a World Heritage Site.
We stopped at the North Rim Back Country Office, ...
... to see their Stephen Mather plaque. It is mounted upright, embedded into a rock near the office building.
Our next stop was the North Rim Visitor Center complex, which was closed for the season.
Their vending machine had this fantastic view from Toroweap Overlook.
We love these location markers that are embedded in the concrete walkway. This one included the latitude and longitude, and indicated that we were 8,238 feet above sea level, which is about 1,200 feet higher than the South Rim.
Here's the visitor center itself. There were less than a dozen people in this whole area at the North Rim while we were there, which was really nice.
Here's the front of the Grand Canyon Lodge, which was originally built in 1927, destroyed by fire in 1932, and rebuilt in 1936.
Here's the back of the lodge, with its terrace looking out ...
... over the Grand Canyon.
We walked down a little way on the Bright Angel Point Trail, ...
... stopping at this overlook.
Here's the view of the Grand Canyon Lodge from the overlook.
We walked back up the trail, climbing the stairs ...
... to this fantastic sitting area ...
... with this amazing view. We were so grateful to be here in November when no one else was here.
We walked a part of the Transept trail toward the campground, stopping at another overlook, ...
... that had fantastic views.
Here's another view of the trail and the lodge.
We had talked about how the aspen trees had no leaves on them, but there were no leaves under them either. Where had all of the leaves gone? Well, there was a thick layer of leaves here but they were very tiny oak tree leaves so the aspen leaf mystery remained unsolved.
A quick flash of blue caught our eye and we saw a Stellar's jay flitting in and around the trees near the lodge terrace. Debbie got this great shot of one in a tree, ...
... and another of its companion on the terrace wall. Aren't they magnificient?
We peered in the lodge windows, ...
... looking at all of the neatly ordered chairs and tables awating the return of guests in the spring.
We also peered into the Roughriders Saloon, ...
... with the menu board still showing drink specials from the last day of operation.
The gift shop had sheets covering the display cases and lots of empty shelves.
We walked around the empty cabins, ...
... and wondered if we would stay here someday.
Someone added eyes to this mule crossing sign.
At 12:15 PM, we started up the winding road to Cape Royal Point.
We stopped for lunch 15 minutes later at Vista Encantada.
Mmmm. Teriyaki beef jerky, Pringles, strawberry Pop-Tarts, and Caffeine Free Diet Coke. Delicious.
We had the place to ourselves, and took some time looking around. This is the view to the northeast.
.Zoom in closer to see a canyon leading toward the river, ...
... and then zoom in even more. You're looking at Nankoweap Creek, Nankoweap Canyon, and Nankoweap Rapids on the Colorado River.
We made a brief stop at Roosevelt Point, named for the 26th president. He was a strong proponent of the National Parks, and it was he who signed the law that allowed for the creation of national landmarks and national monuments.
Roosevelt Point looks east and a little south, toward the Little Colorado River. You can just make out the valley of the Little Colorado in the top center of this photo.
As we continued toward Cape Royal, a big housecat crossed the road in front of us. Wait a minute. Holy crap! It's a bobcat! A bobcat! She ran a short way up the hill, and then, very cat-like, turned around, sat down, and looked at us.
We have never seen a bobcat in the wild. Isn't she gorgeous? Look at the tufts on the tops of her ears, and the colors around her legs. She was quite content to just sit there and watch us, and we were thrilled to have seen her.
Next was Walhalla Overlook, ...
... where we could see Unkar Rapid when we zoomed way in. We were very much enjoying how much of the Colorado River that we could see.
Just before 1:30 PM, we reached the parking lot at Cape Royal Point, which we also had to ourselves. We were loving the North Rim in November!
The path to Cape Royal Point overlook is nicely paved, and was just under a half-mile, although there are no signs to tell you how long the walk is.
We could see Angels Window from the trail, ...
... and we could see the Colorado River through it as promised.
At a fork in the trail, we chose to going to Cape Royal Point first, knowing that even if we were tired of walking, we would still want to go to Angels Window when we got back, but that may not have been true vice versa.
The trees showed the tell-tale signs of being pecked by sapsuckers but we didn't see any.
We finally made it to lovely Cape Royal Point.
From left to right, or southeast to southwest: Freya Castle, ...
... Vishnu Temple,
... and Wotans Throne.
The Colorado River makes a big bend here, changing direction from flowing mostly south to flowing mostly west. Here's the view to the west, looking downriver.
The lines in the rock and the beauty of the canyons are amazing.
We could see Desert View Watchtower on the South Rim, a little more than eight miles away. Here's a close-up.
So much more of the Colorado River was visible from the North Rim. Here's another look at the river a couple of miles upstream from Unkar Rapid.
Debbie used our binoculars to check out every inch of the river that she could see, and she knows every mile by heart. That might not be completely true but sometimes it seems like it.
Debbie's a happy girl!
After taking in our fill at Cape Royal, we headed back up the trail to Angels Window. We had been here for nearly 45 minutes and we were still the only people here.
Angels Window had really nice views to the east, ...
... and we could look back to the north to see where Angels Window overlook was on the drive up. It's in the top-left, about a third of the way down from the top of the photo.
Then we drove back down the scenic road to the turn off to Point Imperial.
Just before 3 PM, we arrived at Point Imperial, the highest point on the North Rim at 8,803 feet above sea level. We spent less time here as there were a handful of people at this overlook, and the views weren't that different from Vista Encantada where we had had lunch earlier.
Here's the view from Point Imperial to the northeast, ...
... and here it is zoomed in to see Marble Canyon and the Vermilion Cliffs way off in the distance.
Here's the view to the east, ...
... and further south, ...
... and around to the west.
We said farewell to the North Rim and started back up the road toward Jacob Lake, past the bison crossing sign, ...
... and through the burned areas until we saw a group of ravens by the side of the road and Tom noticed a huge bird in the top of a tree. Debbie snapped a quick photo of what we thought was another raven, but ...
... it turned out to be a California Condor. A condor! This was a really great day! We saw our first bobcat and we saw a condor. We could tell that s/he had tagged wings but we couldn't figure out the tag number.
By 4 PM, we were back at Jacob Lake Inn and checked into our room, which was a nice double queen room on the end with two huge windows, ...
... and lovely vintage polished woodwork.
Here's the view from the window by the bed, ...
... and here's a lovely view of Septimus from the window by the table.
We walked back to the main building for dinner, ...
... having a seat at the lunch counter since the dining room was closed for the season.
Debbie ordered the Bull and Onion sandwich, which is ground beef mixed with diced onions, fresh mushrooms, and eggs, topped with grilled onions and served on toasted bread.
Tom ordered the Grand Bull, which is a Bull and Onion sandwich with added green chilis, tomatoes, bacon, and cheese.
After dinner, we headed back to the room and prepared our gear for the next day at Toroweap Overlook.

Day 18 >


California 2021: [Day 1 - Chicago] [Day 2 - Route 66: IL] [Day 3 - Route 66: MO] [Day 4 - Route 66: OK] [Day 5 - Route 66: TX] [Day 6 - Route 66: NM] [Day 7 - Route 66: AZ] [Day 8 - Route 66: CA] [Day 9 - Route 66: CA] [Day 10 - Los Angeles] [Day 11 - Los Angeles] [Day 12 - Palm Springs] [Day 13 - Joshua Tree NP] [Day 14 - Death Valley NP] [Day 15 - Las Vegas] [Day 16 - Zion NP] [Day 17 - Grand Canyon North Rim] [Day 18 - Toroweap, Grand Canyon] [Day 19 - Page, AZ] [Day 20 - Durango, CO] [Day 21 - Great Bend, KS] [Day 22 - St. Louis, MO] [Day 23 - Heading Home]

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