Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Angels in Zion, Angels in the Grand Canyon

Waiting for the bus in Zion. It was sunny, but not much above freezing

We got up bright and early to go to do Angels Landing, as the reason we’d not spent much time there with Mum was that it was meant to be hot, and a 4 hour walk, with lots of up, well that was going to be hot… Bright and early though – that was cold, very cold. It was still cold by the time we set off walking (after the 45 min drive, parking, getting the bus to the trailhead) about 09.00. 

Start of Angels Landing hike, still v. cold
Strange hike – the first half steeply up, with the zigzags called ‘Walters wiggles’ all paved in a concrete slope, easy to walk on, and no horrible knee jarring steps on the way down, but not really a ‘wild outdoors’ experience. About half way up the West Rim trail continued, or the scramble to Angels Landing started. At this point we started coming upon people sitting down or crawling, or just looking really nervous. It was exposed, but assuming you can walk in a straight line with a chain to hold onto it wasn’t a problem. Looking at the photos though does make it look very exposed which in some way I just wasn’t aware of. 

There's a rising right traverse in that wall in the centre, that's the way up, with lots of zig-zags to get to it
But actually when you get to it it's straightforward
Some of this I guess is because we are used to it, but some of it was because Brian was enjoying himself so much he was virtually running up it! We came upon a woman on her own ‘testing herself’ she didn’t expect to get to the top, but wanted to see how far she could get. “Have a mint, it’ll give you something else to concentrate on” I offered as we went passed.

Time for some sillyness!
And the bizarre Walters Wiggles to get up
Now it gets a bit more interesting
It was a great scramble with amazing views, virtually standing room only at the top (what time had these people started out?) So few more pictures and off we went down, squeezing past people and getting out the way of those coming up. We met our lady again, with her fella this time – he’d gone up as she wasn’t going to, hence why she’d been on her own when she’d decided to try it! It was going to take her a while to get down, mostly on her bottom! “Have another mint” It had obviously helped as it was out my hand and in her mouth faster than the eye could see. “It’ll give me something else to concentrate on” I heard her explaining. The last bit of the walk down, after Walters wiggles was all in the sun which by now was really quite warm, and it was still only 11.25 and we were down. So much for a 4 hour hike!

Yes, quite interesting! It'll be up there then...
I'm right behind you Jackie
It's only a 1500 ft drop either side
Don't you think you should be a little further from the edge?
Last little bit of ascent
Oh and the final walk along the crest of the ridge
Nice view down there, that's the river down there and the road with a bus just visible round the outside
Jackie lounging about on the summit with a little chipmunk darting past
Managed to get someone to take us both, just to prove I made it too!
Another view over the edge of the road and the river 1500 ft below. Shame we forgot our wing suits!
Don't look so casual about it, there's people crawling along in total fear nearby!
Well on the way back down
A deer wading through the river
The well earned ice cream!
Time for an ice-cream and back to the motel for a chilled afternoon with cat!

Jackie gets a cat-fix at Mount Carmel motel
Grand Canyon North Rim
Headed off to Williams, the last town to be bypassed on Route 66, and the ‘gateway’ to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. We did make our journey longer as we decided to take a look at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon on the way, it’s 1000’ higher so has different weather and landscape than the more popular South Rim, it’s only 10 miles across the GC, as the Condor flies (and we did look out for one of those) but 200+ miles by road! 
Behind is one of the lookout points on the north rim
And that's the view
It is an amazing sight, a huge hole in the ground! All in all added about 4 hours to our day! Arrived at our cabin on a campsite slightly phased, wondering how far it was back to Williams to eat as the camp restaurant was shut, except for the burgers and hotdogs they were whipping up for a bunch of grey nomads, we were told we could join them, so as it was easy as could be we did. Woke up bright and early as we still seem to be on Utah time, and all the people whizzing by to catch sunrise over the GC went passed loudly! 
A 'selfie' on the drive to Williams. Yes, Jackie's driving and I'm not scared!
Not a problem though, meant we could get there early too. Strange place, most of the National Parks have a visitor centre, with a gift shop and that is mostly it, this had accommodation, restaurants, shops everything, and the bus to take us round as no private cars allowed till November. Decided we’d do a hike down into the canyon, seemed to be the recommended thing to do, so we set off down the Bright Angel Trail, but of course that’s the odd thing, you are going down, and have to decide how far down to go as for every step down, you have to come back up! OK mile and a half point – toilets, water, round trip 4 hours. 

An Elk on the road by the South Rim of the GC
We did it in 1 ½ hours, strange timings they give for these hikes! On the whole though going down hadn’t really worked for either of us – the best view was at the top! So did the bus trip and decided really we’d seen enough of the GC, so back to Safeway in Williams, I wanted to visit the pharmacy. However on speaking to the pharmacist he thought my self-diagnosis was wrong and that a quick dose of antibiotics was called for, it’s ok though – the doctors 2 mins over there will sort you out! 
On our way down. Odd to start a hike downhill
And they did, an hour, a staff of 4 and $130 later, back to the pharmacist. Have to say though as these things go, it was such a different experience than in the UK, congenial, chatty, easy, just the bill to deal with!

Still going down
The trail we are on ends on the plateau, just left of centre. That's 3000ft down and 12 miles round trip, estimated at 9-12 hours. We didn't go that far!
We turned round at the 1.5mile, 1200ft descent mark and came back up. The canyon is 5000ft deep and exposes rocks 2 billion years old at the bottom. That works out at 1 million years for every 2.5ft of descent on average. That must mean we were looking at rocks about 48 million years old at our lowest point
Some fine views from the top
Despite the fact that we wanted it to be, this was not a condor with a 9ft wingspan, it was a turkey vulture apparently
That's the best view of a very muddy Colorado river we had
Jackie gets the low down from one of the Park Rangers about something or other
I know it's only a baby bunny, but isn't he cute!
We’d allocated 2 days to the GC, so today we got up very gently (despite being woken by the sunrise seekers) and had a lovely morning pottering round Williams, rounded off by stopping for milkshake and pie for lunch, well that was the plan, but I couldn’t find any high stools to sit on, and as it turns out, milkshake was off – no ice-cream, but a coffee frappe was very similar, along with a huge slice of cream pie each (well we’ve seen these things but never have the space) the sugar rush and the calories were immense! Feeling uncomfortably full we set off on the relatively short drive to Flagstaff, detouring to drive along random bits of Route 66, because it was there!

The city of Williams and part of the old Chicago to LA Route 66
Carefully restored old buildings on Route 66. This Italian restaurant that we ate at used to be a petrol station and they still have the old restored petrol pumps outside
With a few old cars
A bit of the very original Route 66 - it took some finding!
Jackie at the crag
The Flagstaff guide we’d picked up at the tourist info in Williams mentioned a climbing wall, so we popped in hoping to pick someone’s brain about local outdoor climbing. We met a lovely guy who drew some terrible maps, but gave us some really good info and printed stuff off the web, so we decided to try ‘The Pit’ properly known as Le Petit Verdon despite the easiest route being harder than anything we’ve climbed since we’ve been here, and it being Limestone which although a rock we’ve climbed on a lot on the UK and Spain we know it can get terribly polished, particularly if you are doing the easiest routes at the crag! Oh well, we’ll just have a look! Bumped into some youth in the car-park who showed us the way, and pointed us to the route the wall man had recommended. I did it, but made heavy weather of it, which made B decide to do it on the top rope, but it's so much easier on a top rope! (He did have to stop for at least one rest, so that made me feel better.) So he suggested I go back up on the rope and enjoy it! Just about to set off when some more youth (from California it turns out) arrived looking dubious, so I tied their rope to me and took it up so they could top rope it too. B had to show them how to tie on, so we left wondering whether we should as California surfer dude was being lowered down having only got half way!

The group we left at the crag. There is a rope up that Jackie placed
He said he climbed that grade! So 46 yr old English Lady 1 : 20 something surfer dude 0!

What was so lovely though was the man at the wall giving us loads of advice, the guys who showed us the way and offered to lend us some trad gear if we wanted (having sent all ours home with Mum), and then another guy climbing nearby who in a shouted conversation from his route to B belaying also offered to lend us gear. Don’t think you’d get that at home!

Got to our airbnb before the householders (but we knew where they’d hidden a key for us) to shower and let in the cat, at least we hoped it was the right cat, but she seemed to know her way round! It was and if we are lucky she might spend the night with us!

1 comment:

  1. Humongous! And I thought I was doing well, managing to go 8 rungs up a ladder instead of 4 ! Haven't been up much higher since, but the cats love it and spend some time up on the roof (trying to fly like the birds?). And then, of course, they expect me to get them down.