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Li Xiaohu's Journey

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May 2012

Western U.S. – Grand Canyon East 6

Li Xiaohu didn’t realise there’s a Grand Canyon East until we saw some pictures on the wall of Yavapai Lodge lobby. It is also called ‘Desert View’. The Colorado river in one picture attracted our attention. Then we decided to join the tour.

The old lady driver was very talkative and introduced the preservation of Grand Canyon all the time. She spoke with her old, raucous voice, which I like, hahaha. Along the East Rim Drive, we visited a few distant viewpoints such as Moran point and Yaki point. Fewer tourists had been here, I guessed. The emerald-green Colorado river was underneath the cliff.

On the roadside, there were some pale or dark, dead wood? The old lady explained sometimes lightning hit trees here and burned them down……Wow, why I’m so looking forward to seeing lightning??

A stylish watchtower stands in the East Rim, our destination. Definitely it was built by modern architecture designer. But at least, it pretended to be native>_<

Not really interested in the souvenir shops inside the watchtower, we began to hike down from the East Rim to explore a little bit more.

 

 

 

 

 

The hat-like mountain in the picture below was called ‘painted desert’. Frankly, their notion of desert is quite different. LoL. For me, ‘desert’ usually means a hot, barren place composed of sand only, as the Mongolia-China border, where a camel train carried us to a well for water. Here the rocky surface was also called ‘desert’, furthermore, ‘painted desert’ with green plants and layered rocks.

We walked along the sandy and rocky path slowly. There were some short bushes. It was quiet around here. Rarely tourists came down, and we met 2 or 3 of them only.

In the lowest place we could achieve, around 20 youngsters sat down and studied in a group. The tutor was reading their book out loud. Her ringing voice was sent by the blowing wind. A Geography class??

It was nice peaceful day. The sun was not as bright as in south rim. The river and valley far away looked like a red-style oil painting under the clouds, just like the oil painting we saw on the wall of Grand Canyon Railway Hotel. We couldn’t help but imagining a journey towards the river valley, on the back of a mule, and surrounded by red cliffs all the way.

We sat down beside these young and quiet students, and enjoyed the scene and the peace.

 

 

Nobody noticed the passing of time. Eagles flew in the sky, making quick-moving shadows on the red mountain ridge.

On the way back to the watch tower, we ended up with realizing how much we had hiked down. This side of mountain was steep. So that’s so-called ‘Trekking in the World’.

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Western U.S. – Hiking along the Birght Angel Trail5

Li Xiaohu’d like to call it ‘hiking’ rather than ‘trekking’, although we really suffered from jet lag after a long journey from Asia to West Coast, to Arizona. After sleeping from 5PM to 6AM (local time, why we spent over 12 hours sleeping??>_<), we went for sunrise, and then, started hiking along the Bright Angel Trail.

Among all the places we have been for hiking, Mt. Annapurna was the most pleasant experience with a rapid change of scenery: farmland, Hindu temple, waterfall, jungle, snow mountain, vibrant sunset and bright clouds. On the other hand, Mt. Meili was a isolated, mysterious world where the basement had been abandoned for ages and all the tracks and paths were hidden under snow. When we climbed over the mountain ridge on the way back to the village, we heard a snow slide.

But hiking in the Grand Canyon was more like wandering in our own backyard – well, without the ambition to hike down to the campground at the bottom. First of all, tons of information were available on the internet. Before departing from Hong Kong, we were aware of the three premier trails in Grand Canyon. I was attracted by the South Kaibab trail, but for certain reason (??) Chen Tu liked the Bright Angel Trail better.

Now he was hiking on the icy trail, carrying the big camera bag covered by his down jacket. ‘Like a camel’.

It was the end of March, the season for flower blossom in Hong Kong. Here, one side of the trail was exposed to the sun and easy to walk. Another side in the shade, where ice was melting, was very slippery.

Some rocks have holes in them. People really enjoyed taking photos through these holes. There were many tourists walking along the trail. Luckily we met a pair of mom and daughter, who took photo for us.

‘Look ‘ Chen Tu said, ‘the mom is, more or less, the same age as your mom. She’s still doing some hiking (I appreciate it!!)’ I answered: ‘Well, my mom never did any sports which would make her sweat, even when she was 20/30 something.’

Rock squirrels were everywhere, however, unfortunately, not welcomed in Grand Canyon. Hahaha, these cute, furry animals bite.  Every year some people have been bitten.

We had to enjoy this little rock squirrel from a distance.

The temperature changed dramatically when we walked down. We set off in the Winter. At the three mile rest house, It was almost in the Spring. We overlooked the green forest at Indian garden. Some girls just wore tank tops and long shorts, comparing to our heavy, black, down jackets…..

Hiking in Grand Canyon was totally different from my imagination……actually, much better. Before I watched a few pictures and videos, just like—-walking forever in a dry desert……

It was still very dry, but was painted green, with growing bush. Some helicopters passed by and left white smoke lines in the sky.

Now it was time to walk back up. Again, had no ambition to finish the trail within one day. The Bright Angel Trail descends 4380 feet to the Colorado River. Maybe we will cross the river next time^_^

Western U.S. – Sunrise and Sunset at Yavapai point4

However the sunrise was staggering beautiful at Yavapai point, when morning sun was shining on the peaks and the valleys were still in the dark.

We stayed in Yavapai Lodge for two nights. It is quiet, surrounded by pine woodlands, far away from the rim where many tourists crowd. We met rock squirrels on the way to our room^_^ The downside – need take shuttle bus to the rim.

(No particular reason to choose this one…When booking through Xanterra website one month ago, this was the only thing available. Especially…Phantom Ranch at the bottom, which I wanted to hike to, accepted reservation from 13 months ago…

Uh, why people plan what to do 13 months ahead? I’m not even 100% where I will be next year >_<b)

According to travel book, Yavapai point is always the best place for sunrise and sunset. We got up at 6AM and spent 30 mins in walking there. It was early morning in March and was frozen. Some cars passed on the road – most of people traveled to Grand Canyon with their car, except for us.

The camera couldn’t get as much details as there were. There are hundreds of thousands of rocky mountains in Grand Canyon. Every mountain looked vivid and colorful now, rather than the dim and grey rocks at noon.

The sun was still very bright. Chen Tu’s transforming glasses totally changed to black!

Warmed up by the Sun, we wandered back and crossed the woodlands nearby, with pine trees’ fresh smell. One guy was running with his dog and passed us in this pleasant morning.

We returned to the same place for sunset. The flying clouds looked like a oil painting. The golden light was fading from all the mountains quickly.

Get a closer look.

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