Archive for August, 2010

Out of the frying pan into the fire

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

Yup, no one ever willingly admitted I was the cleverest man alive! And it seems for good reason. As if the heat of the Salt Lake and Bryce wasn’t enough, I got talked into visiting the Grand Canyon, Zion, and even Vegas en route to Yosemite. Oh, did I mention that we also drove through Death Valley? (although that was largely self-inflicted and a not a result of Sandra’s persuasion skills).

From Bryce, we continued on some small highways that went south towards Zion. Before entering Zion, we did an overnighter at a hidden gem of a lake: Quail Lake where the waters are warm 24 hours and even when you come out from swimming, there’s always warm air. Almost perfect swimming conditions.

evening gloe after sunset on quail lake

evening glow after sunset on quail lake

Now, IMHO Zion isn’t worth visiting if you’re gonna visit Bryce and Grand Canyon as it’s kinda somewhere between the two and not very big and feels ultra-touristy: think about those hop-on hop-off children’s trains at six flags. Basically you’re not allowed to drive into the main Zion Canyon and must take one of the many park shuttles (remember the children’s trains) to go anywhere in the canyon.

Zion shuttle

Zion shuttle

Even “the parking lot” of the park gets filled to the rim on a weekday by 10am in summer so gotta get here earlier or take even another shuttle from a close-by town. As the shuttle took us into Zion, we were less than impressed with most of the vistas, might be a result of being spoilt by Yellowstone and the like. We took a shot or two and high-tailed outta there in a couple of hours.

looking upto angel's landing, Zion

looking upto angel's landing, Zion

Relived from the tourist traffic, we slowly drove towards Kaibab plateau in Arizona where the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is located. It got hotter and muggier while driving to the point that I was thinking of turning back to Salt Lake! Then we started climbing up on a plateau and the weather changed dramatically: for the first time in weeks I felt cool air on my face from the open window! My heart leapt with joy and I knew I’d be bound to cold climates if I really wanted to be happy: the heat does me no good! (Sandra: Sagi wouldn’t know the first thing about what a treat this warmth is: he loses all but the last of his strength soon as the mercury climbs over 25 Celsius!!!)

Grand Canyon North Rim at sunrise

Grand Canyon North Rim at sunrise

So apparently the North Rim is worlds apart from the South Rim in terms of weather: its in a green oasis in the dessert and weather is vey nice and cool even in mid-summer.

smile of relief: cool morning on the north rim

smile of relief: cool morning on the north rim

Grand Canyon from Roosevelt Point

Grand Canyon from Roosevelt Point

Surprisingly it’s only 10 miles as the raven flies across the South Rim but driving around is a different matter altogether. I was able to sleep again in the van comfortably and we spent a few days reveling in the beauty of the Grand Canyon.

Canyon hopping

Canyon hopping

Grand Canyon and Colorado river from Cape Royal

Grand Canyon and Colorado river from Cape Royal

We even took up the challenge to see if we were upto the task of being muleteers for a day riding down the canyon on these interesting animals. They look almost like horses save for long donkey ears and funny tails and an unpredictable temperament. They are more sturdy and sure-footed on treacherous terrains and hence no horses go down to the canyon generally.

Mule riding down the Kaibab trail

Mule riding down the Kaibab trail

You gotta be warned though: these mules have a tendency to always walk on the outer edge of the trail which can be nerve-racking! Once you get used to it (or decide to not look down) you begin to enjoy the ride and the scenery around the canyons. We went a few miles down and then back up the same day which left us in awe of the strength of these beasts of burden.

for once the mule stopped before the edge

for once the mule stopped before the edge

And so the saga of the brown spot continues: we made our way further into the fire towards Las Vegas, Nevada which I barely survived! No one ever said it was a smart idea to go to an already hot place in the heart of summer! The story shall soon unfold!

amazing storm cloud

amazing storm cloud

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