This year marked our seventh in the last eight
visiting the Grand Canyon. While it's new for the students each year, it's
getting quite old hat for the two profs. But we never get tired of it. We had coolest weather
in any of our visits this time, but it turned out to be one of the best visits,
weatherwise, we've had.
It was cold in Williams.
Overnight lows were in the 20s, and we expected that to be the
temperatures when we got to the canyon early in the morning of
hiking day with predicted highs at the rim only in the 40s.
Because the schedule this year had us out west two weeks earlier
than we normally had been over the years, we expected that the
weather at the Canyon could be colder and more snowy than we had
ever experienced. Indeed, checking the backcountry trail
condition reports on the National Park Service website for the Grand
Canyon would have one believe that hiking into the canyon on any of
the major trails might have been just about impossible due to snow
But we went, anyway, because we were
there, and how often do you get to the Grand Canyon when you're from
Ohio? It was cold as expected. It was also windy, and
one really wanted, if one stayed at or near the rim, gloves, a hat,
and several layers of clothing. But once you got down the
trails a ways, things changed dramatically, as they usually do in
the canyon, and all for the good. As usual, temperatures rose,
and we very quickly didn't need our gloves, our hats, and one or
more layers of clothing. But, because it was generally colder
overall, we actually experienced very good hiking conditions.
We didn't have any heat issues, the water we carried was more than
enough as we never really got all that thirsty, and, overall, the
hiking experience was one of the best we've ever had.
The more cloudy conditions also meant
a very different look to the canyon. Most of our visits have
seen clear skies with bright sun and sharp shadows. With the
cloudy conditions, the light was more diffuse, and shadows were much
more gradual or non-existent.
As has become our standard practice, we did two hikes this year. The students
all went on what has become the principle hike done each year, the
Trail-Tonto Trail- Bright Angel Trail hike. This is about 13 miles in
length, where one goes down on the South Kaibab for about 1/3 of the hike, across,
to the west, on the Tonto for about 1/3 of the hike to Indian Garden, and then
up the Bright Angel back to the rim for the last third. It's a good day
hike. Just ask anyone who's done it.
The two profs did a
hike starting at the Hermit's Rest trailhead, which is where we
began a hike during our 2006 visit. In that hike, we went all
the way to Dripping Springs, a round-trip distance of about 6.5
miles with an elevation change of about 1700 feet. This time,
anticipating that the going might be more slow because of ice and
snow, we planned to go a slightly different way and end up at Santa
Maria Spring, a round-trip distance of about 4.5 miles but with the
same elevation change. In this hike, one goes down the same
trail from Hermit's Rest, but, rather than heading down the Dripping
Springs trail once that trail junction is reached, you stay on the
Hermit trail to Santa Maria Spring, where there is a rest house.
Turing around there makes for a decent 1/2 to 3/4 day hike,
depending on your pace and how often you stop to take photos.
|$8 per person when we
come as a group. Not bad.