5/7/15 Thursday in Cottonwood, AZ (Verde Valley-TT)
Early up and breakfast. I saw a heron in our view as I was eating. On our way by 6:50, then arrived at the Park entrance gate by 9:10 ($25/car but free with Senior Pass). Much nicer than the 2 ¾ hrs. of driving I had expected.
On a camper’s suggestion, for our 1 day here, we chose the red shuttle ride (Hermit Road) to various rim views. Then we had our picnic lunch, watched the movie at the Visitor Center, then took the blue shuttle to the Bright Angel Trailhead. We only went down a short way, since it was getting late. We’d originally planned to also drive the Desert View Drive after lunch but as it turned out there wasn’t time AND we figured John had plenty of driving ahead when we finished our visit.
The scenes are amazing. Sort of like being in the mountains, a camera just can’t do it justice. We were fortunate that the weather was sunny and cool, because we got warm just walking, when the wind was calm.
Garden Creek Canyon-where the earth’s crust fractured, lifting one side of the rock layers, lifting one side and lowering the other, creating a fault.
On our walk to Powell Point we encountered this sweet plateau lizard.
Mom was not happy that Dad had walked out beyond the fence. Then the son did as well, even sitting on that rock, letting his legs hang and raising his hands as he faced the Canyon, so his dad could take a photo. Mom then told Dad to help their son up but at that point their son was already getting himself up to standing. I could understand Mom’s consternation and Dad’s need to let his son feel confidence in himself….
Then we reached Hopi Point. Astounding panoramic vista there.
It took a while before we could even see the Colorado River-what had caused all this over billions of years. So hard to fathom the immensity of time and distance here.
Hermits Rest (end of shuttle route, then we returned to the Visitor’s Center). This building was constructed in 1914, as envisioned by Mary Jane Colter who “designed it to provide modern comforts garbed in primitive quaintness”. It’s built into the side of a hill, were the hermit/prospector Louis Boucher lived. “The Santa Fe Railroad built Hermit’s Rim Road as an alternative to the Bright Angel Trail which was a toll trail at the time.” (from the metal sign above the doorway). We broke down and bought 3 t shirts here.
Bright Angel Trailhead: as we started on our way we noticed the mule droppings. Signs instructed us to stay to the inside of the trail whenever passed by mules. We just went a little ways past Upper Tunnel because Lower Tunnel was a lot further down and we knew we had to go UP still. All the hikers coming up as we went down looked really exhausted!
On our shuttle ride back to our car John saw a Bull Elk. He was pretty excited about that. I was in another seat, on the other side of the bus. The lady next to me shared that they’d hiked to Ooh Aah Point (on the South Kabab Trail). That it was 1.8 miles long and just full of amazing views (ooh aah), so I really want to do that one when we return someday.
John saw a coyote cross the road just in front of our car as we were leaving the Park on Hwy 64. He was so smooth and quick, a real joy to watch. Naturally I barely caught a glimpse of him so there is no photo for you.
After making a double fuel stop (gas for the car and food for John), we arrived home a bit after 7. In time to make a leftover supper and relax. It was a fun and very long day for us two tired puppies.