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2014 National Park "Free Entry" Dates!! January 20th Martin Luther King Jr. Day; February 15-17th Presidents Day weekend; April 19-20th opening weekend of National Park Week; August 25th National Park Service Birthday; September 27th National Public Lands Day; November 11th Veterans Day

Saturday, September 6, 2014

#33 - South Rim - Grand Canyon National Park

First Glimpse
 I was never sure I would ever make it to the Grand Canyon. I mean, here I am 50 years old and I had not made it there yet. Then a friend called, and another, and soon we had a group signed up for an eight day, 225 mile Colorado river raft trip through the canyon. All of a sudden, I was quite excited to go see, and explore, one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

The stage was actually set the night before we arrived. After landing in Phoenix, we met my brother in Sedona, took a drive along the Red Rock Scenic Byway, and with the sun setting, got one hike in to Cathedral Rock. A perfect way to kick it all off!
Sunset hike to Cathedral Rock
Working our way up
Sunset - Cathedral Rock
We arrived at the Grand Canyon about midnight. A long day of travel made for a welcome bed. When we awoke, we stepped outside to get our bearings. Little did we know the canyon was literally 50 feet from our lodge!

A great way to wake up!
Right off the bat, we saw wildlife. With coffee in hand, and in the first 20 minutes, we came across our first of many ravens, a mule-eared deer, and a California Condor!

One of many ravens throughout the canyon
Mule-Eared Deer

One of two California Condors we saw
But hiking and exploring is what we came to do, and we took a shuttle 8 miles out to the end of Hermits Rest. This allowed us to hike back to the Village, and it turned out to be a great choice. We had a bright, beautiful day, and as we started at the far end, the crowds were low. In many areas, we had the views to ourselves.

Getting started at Hermits Rest
As we hiked along the canyon's rim, we came upon view after stunning view. Pima Point, Monument Creek, The Abyss, Mohave, Hopi and Powell points were all beautiful. With glimpses of the Colorado river, it showed just how expansive the canyon really is.
A glimpse of the Colorado River

Trail conditions were great. In most cases, you hugged the rim of the canyon, however, the trail would wind inwards offering differing views. It was warm, and plenty of water was required. A breeze whipped through the canyon, and a cool draft from time to time reminded you of being at an elevation of 7000 feet.

We enjoyed a six mile hike this first day. Each view, each turn was like a picture book. You could not help but stop and stare - and go back to the rim to look again!

Water break
We wound the day down. Decided to catch the sunset at Yaki Point. We could not believe the first day we had just had.

Bull Elk on the way to Yaki Point

The colors change in front of you...
The reds become deeper...
Just beautiful.
Keep Hiking, Friends.

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