… continued from this post.
I took the shuttle to the trail head and started my descent. The South Kaibab Trail was significantly redder than the Bright Angel Trail and definitely more challenging-even going down. But it was fun and had several great view points. A reward for about every mile or half mile of hiking. There was the Ooh-Aah point, which really did have that effect on you.
While heading down, I saw a couple climbing up and the guy was resting but the girl clearly wanted to get a move on. The guy said “do you want me to pass out?”. It was not encouraging to hear that. I decided I would start coming back up to the rim way before I got tired. I didn’t want to collapse on the trail from exhaustion, especially as I was hiking solo.
It threatened to rain- little drizzles, but I kept going. I went a little past the 1.5 mile mark (Cedar Ridge) but seeing as it was getting dark and I had a feeling going back up would be even more challenging than the day before, I didn’t go too much past that. Coupled with the fact that I went past a really fit (in my opinion) guy who looked like he was having a great amount of difficulty climbing back up, even with a hiking stick/pole, I decided it was time. More importantly, there weren’t any more people hiking past me and I didn’t want to be the last person in the canyon!
I started back up, and immediately my thigh muscles protested. The only difference this time was that I knew the pain was coming. On my way up, I consumed much more water then I had forecasted and actually had to start rationing it very strictly as I was running out fast! One of my biggest fears when planning my trip. Somehow, I was thirstier on this trail than the Bright Angel Trail.
I finally made it back up, with the assistance of a combination of water and Gatorade (which I really didn’t need as I wasn’t sweating- but I needed fluids, any kind of potable fluid!).
I was tired and it would have been best to head out to my hotel and get some rest, but I wanted to view a sunset at the Canyon. I hadn’t been able to view any sunrises there (usually around 6am) and the previous night, I had to get to my hostel before 9pm so no time to stick around for a sunset. That was my last night anywhere near the park so it had to be that day. Problem was, it was still a long time to sunset (8.22pm).
I decided to visit some of the view points I hadn’t seen yet, while sticking to the general area where I had read one could get great sunset views (Yaki Point). At one of the view points, the sky was so clear that the picture I took was way better than the picture the park had at the view point. For real, see for yourself below :).
It was starting to get really cold, so I got the bright idea to get on the shuttle bus and just never get off till it was time for sunset, but of course, time it right so I got to Yaki Point on time and also left some wiggle room in case it got crowded. I wanted to pick out my special spot.
I got to Yaki Point about 45 minutes to sunset and there was already a small crowd gathered. Luckily, I could still find a good spot so I just waited and tried to think warm thoughts. There wasn’t actually any guarantee that there would be a good/great show because it was a really cloudy day. In fact, many times I was tempted to just leave the park due to the cold and wind.
Before long, I was rewarded- but it was a really short show. I’m glad I took the pictures I did because I kept waiting for something more and it never came. It was still a cool experience to see the sunset over the Canyon, as well as watching other people watch the sunset with all their fancy equipment.
I spent the night in Kingman, AZ so that I could be closer to Grand Canyon West. The location of my next adventures. Grand Canyon West is not [yet] as popular as the Grand Canyon National Park, but it should be because it is just as awesome, if not more! It has a lot more hands-on activities and is very fun. The most popular thing is the glass skywalk. It is semi circular and made of all glass- so it is see-through and you can gaze straight down into the Grand Canyon. It could also be terrifying, especially if you are scared of heights.
It is run by the Hualapai Tribe of Indians and a lot of their culture and tradition is very evident here. Depending on your ticket type, you get to walk the gskywalk, have lunch, dance and sing with the native people, ride horses, go bull riding, experience a magic show (which was really cool- the card I picked out and wrote my name on somehow found itself folded into 4 in a tiny closed box- i tell you, I watched the guy closely, I don’t know how he did it), etc. They also have helicopter rides so you can descend into the canyon and connect on a deeper level [pun intended] :).
At Grand Canyon West, there is a place called Eagle Point because the rock formations look like an eagle :). Oh, and there are no barriers here to keep one from [accidentally] jumping into the Canyon so I recommend a strong dose of common sense when visiting.
Then there is Guano Point, the remnant of an old mine. Guano literally means bat sh!t.
As I was resting my weary legs, I noticed a girl staring at me and smiling, so I thought she was just being friendly so I smiled back. Before I knew it, she told her mum to take a picture of me. Then she proceeded to come sit by me, put her arms around me, and asked her mum to take another picture. As she was about to leave, I decided I had to get my own picture too! It was too funny.
My conclusion- she had never seen a black person up close before. I take it there aren’t too many in China (which is where I assume she was from). It was just so cool- connecting on that level without using words- as I don’t speak Chinese and she apparently doesn’t speak English. Let’s just say I found my Chinese Seesta!
I also met one of the police officers at Grand Canyon West, Eusevio. He was walking by while I was resting my legs and he said hello. So I said hello back and asked if he was just making sure that people were not being stupid. He laughed and said yes and he said sometimes people wanted pictures with him. I am not sure if that was a hint but I asked anyway if he would take a picture with me. So he did. He said he is of Mexican descent so I told him I had spent some time in Mexico, in Monterrey. He was very impressed with my Spanish pronunciation of Monterrey- winning!
I made my way over to the Skywalk- I wanted to get it over and done with. As I got closer, I saw a group of Hualapai Indians singing and dancing so I went closer to listen. Next thing I know, the leader is asking me to join them in the performance. I’m not sure if I sucked really bad or they were really at the end of the song, but the song ended and they started to ask me where I was from and other things about myself. I asked for a picture and the leader offered to take a photo of me and the ladies. The mischievous guy took a selfie and started to ask what was wrong with my camera! lol.
He also said that he was wondering why I was hesitating to come watch and join the performance and that I didn’t have to be scared because he wasn’t going to scalp me. Indians don’t do that anymore because there is no market for scalps. I wasn’t sure whether to be comforted by this but I smiled politely, took my phone back, and walked away very quickly. He was obviously having a laugh. Clearly.
The skywalk was nice- a bit scary, but more like the glass thing at Sears Tower in Chicago scary. Cameras (nothing really) aren’t allowed on there. I guess for safety, but also because they have official photographers there to take your picture and you are encouraged to buy your very expensive pictures. I did- but it was a long internal debate to make the decision.
I grabbed a quick lunch and left shortly after to make the 4.5 hour drive back to Phoenix airport but I would easily have stayed much longer. There was so much to do! The drive to the airport was eventful as I got stuck in really bad traffic and decided to follow some vehicles through a detour. It didn’t even occur to me that the fact that they were all trucks and SUVs and I was driving a tiny sedan could be a problem.
Long story short, it was a very narrow road, one way, and we had to drive through a section of sand. It was too late to turn back as there were several vehicles behind me. The wheels of my vehicle protested but I eventually made it back on paved roads. Talk about adrenaline pumping! It was a good thing I made it through because I definitely did not have the money to make any explanations to the car rental company. I don’t even think I had much phone service at the time- it was a miracle the google maps app on my phone didn’t abandon me in my hour of need. lol.
I’m glad I stayed the extra day to visit Grand Canyon West. It gave me a rest from hiking, it was actually fun, and I learned some history about one of the Indian tribes. Sometimes, history is sad but it is very important that we learn about our history. It is also good to learn about other cultures so that harmful, evil, and untrue stereotypes do not continue to be perpetuated by ignorance.
Till next time, friends! Keep the dream alive :).