Thursday, October 23, 2008

View from the Edge

We spent much of today perched on the edge of the Grand Canyon, taking photos of where we might hike and the multinational crowd of tourists.

We did spend a short time with two biologists from HawkWatch International who were completing their two month stint of hawk-watching. They don't see huge numbers of hawks at the Grand Canyon, even on their peak days. We felt lucky to see this one hawk zooming by.

I must to admit I got a little freaked out by some views of the trail. I knew it would have cliffs, but they looked steeper than I expected.

The South Kaibab Trail was built to have optimum is exposed the whole way down to the river. The top switchbacks down from the rim.

Then the trail continues along diagonally across this photo.

Looking at the area near Cedar Ridge, I decide if I need to turn back because I'm very freaked out, or it's just not fun, it's OK. Not a choice I'd take lightly...but a choice I'll take if I need to.

The Hawkwatch biologists have hiked to Phantom Ranch before, and they assure me that there is no walking along a knife edge. Meanwhile, I can see this hiker on trail that looks pretty skinny.

O'Neill Butte is past Cedar Ridge. We enjoy watching hikers on the trail through our binoculars. They look so tiny, you probably can't even see them in this photo.

The trail continues along a flat-looking plateau to Skeleton Point, and then zigzags down out of sight.

I'm mostly excited about the hike, although the drop-offs look a little scary.

After checking out the trails, we took our duffle bag to the mule barn. We've paid for a mule to carry some things into the canyon for us. Pack mules supply Phantom Ranch and many of the river rafts, so our duffle bag is just a small extra bit for them to carry. We also had an excellent lunch at El Tovar.

Late in the afternoon we attended a ranger talk about condors. We wanted to recognize a condor if we saw one. Apparently, the best way to identify a Grand Canyon condor is by the big numbered tags on its wings.

We didn't see a condor at all on the trip, but here's a nice picture of one complete with numbered tags!

Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, David Clendenen

In the evening, we ate lots of pizza, packed the clothes and gear we'd wear and carry, and tried to go to sleep early.

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