Monday, September 12, 2011

North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Second Day

Up early as usual for us, we were at breakfast in the Lodge by 6:30. The sun was coming up over the canyon and we watched the changing light in awe from our window seat. It really did change minute to minute. Prices in the dining room are reasonable and we found that the deli, although convenient, didn’t have a big enough savings to make it worthwhile for a meal.

Morning view

Chuck went with the breakfast buffet ($13.95); Claire with the steel cut oats ($4) and a fruit plate ($7). Once again, the food did not disappoint. The fruit even included blackberries, raspberries and blueberries.

Chuck's Breakfast

Claire's Breakfast

We love the lounge in the Lodge with more massive windows looking out on the gorgeous rock canyon. The sofas lined up facing the windows are comfortable and it has a very inviting ambience.

Inside the Lodge

Our goal this morning was the Widforss Trail, a few miles back towards the entrance to the park. This hike promised to take us through a blend of Alpine forest and canyon scenery. A relatively easy trail, we did a 5 mile roundtrip through the most beautiful section, which included numbered stopping points with a self-guiding trail brochure available at the trailhead. At one of the numbered sites, it explained why there is such a haze over the canyon: the Industrial Age.

Widforss Trail

Chuck at a View Point

Wildflowers with raindrops from the night

We started the hike at about 8 am and had the trail almost to ourselves. We did, however, run into a couple from Scotland with their friends from Seattle, whom we talked to for a bit. We also met Tom, a very nice young man from Kansas, schooled in Chicago, who is on a road trip from his job in Washington, D.C., to Palo Alto where he will pursue a masters degree in Mechanical and Design Engineering at Stanford. We talked and hiked with him for quite awhile.

Aspen and wildflowers

Fall colors

Along the Trail

We sure didn’t realize how forested the North Rim is with Ponderosa Pine, Douglas firs and Aspens interspersed with large meadows, or how cold it can get—layers and gloves come in handy. We were lucky this morning and mostly had sun but could see dark clouds in the distance. The ranger told us noon was the expected time for the thunder storm to hit. By 10:30 or so we were back at the trailhead.

Canyon view from the trail

Lunch for Claire was Anasazi chili ($5.35) and iced tea ($2.35). Chuck, still full from breakfast, opted for a soft swirl ice cream cone ($3.45)

The afternoon was spent relaxing and reading. Chuck took a break at 3pm for the Geology talk by a new ranger who had formerly been a geologist here for years. He chose to speak on water, a timely topic with all the actual and threatening thunderstorms. One interesting point was that weathering and erosion are largely responsible for the Grand Canyon’s appearance; Colorado River water is not solely responsible for all the carving that has occurred: it carries away what is washed down, pushing it toward the Gulf of California.

We had dinner once again in the Lodge dining room—so glad we made reservations in advance; it’s the only way to get in. Claire had the Imperial Vegetarian Tower and Chuck had the Prime Rib. I think I’ve seen bigger towers but it was delicious and very filling.

House made black bean flat cakes and goat cheese polenta points, accompanied by organic lettuce hearts, roasted tomatoes, cilantro drizzle and creamy sunflower sauce, $18.10.

Heart Attack on a Plate. This 10 ounce cut of prime rib came with baked potato, asparagus, au jus, and horseradish cream, $26.50.

It was a beautiful way to end our visit. We took one last look at the setting sun over the canyon before heading back to our little lodge. We leave for Page, Arizona tomorrow morning.

Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time. ~ Steven Wright