I've been coming here for 8 years and have never seen fog like this. Oro Valley was covered but as I left the valley and headed north on #79.....
…..I emerged from the fog and enjoyed the sun. I am on my way to the Grand Canyon where I will meet Wade, organizer of the "Arizona Strong Hikers" group. We will shove off from the South Rim, tomorrow at 8am. Our destination is The Battleship, a prominent feature as one looks out over the Canyon.
It is a scenic, almost 6 hour drive for me. I pass just west of Flagstaff and enjoy the view of Humphrey's Peak and the San Francisco Mountains. With a forecast overnight low of 18 degrees (YIKES!) I dug deep into my box of cold weather cycling gear. Although I have never used them, I grabbed a pair of cramp-ons as Wade had reconnoitered the portion of the Bright Angel trail we would hike and let me know it was covered in ice.
I reached Williams, AZ and then a straight shot to the Canyon. I passed the Grand Canyon steam engine pulling a couple of passenger cars. This is a popular means of going from Williams to the GC. There is a bike race where 300+ cyclists race the train, 53 miles to Williams. Called "Man vs. Machine". I think you have to average 24mph to win.
As I drive toward the Canyon, I am always struck by the lack of clues that you are about to view what tops most natural wonders of the world, lists. I distinctly remember my first visit, driving through the forest and then without warning, seeing it to my right and my jaw just dropping.
I drive to the parking area adjacent to the famous El Tovar hotel. I look down and can see the Bright Angel trail and Indian Gardens. In late April, I'm leading a group of friends down the South Kaibab trail but while they spend the night at Phantom Ranch, I'll chug out of the Canyon for an enjoyable day hike.
Despite the cold and off season, the rim is fairly crowded. The high today is 45 degrees. I enjoyed walking along the South Rim and looked frequently......
…..at tomorrow's destination, along with the bird. I've read many hike reports about the Battleship and am nervous about a part of the climb called the "chimney". Of course, experience has shown that people who describe features as "scary", "exposed", etc... are almost always exaggerations made by the inexperienced.....almost always.
A famous spot as a tunnel (lower left) is part of the experience trekking out of the Canyon via the Bright Angel trail.
So awesome. I've lost count of how many times I have visited the Canyon. Backpacking off the north rim a few times and plenty of day hikes down to the river and back via Tanner, Hermit, the South Kaibab/Bright Angel loop (maybe 8 times?) and down and around Horseshoe Mesa. So, so much fun with a nice does of pain mixed in. Tomorrow though, oh my!