Today, we decided to do the exact opposite of yesterday. We’re up early and into the park in the morning, and back to the hotel to goof off in the afternoon. Our destination today is Hermit’s Rest, along the western edge of the South Rim. It’s only accessible by hiking along the Rim Trail or taking the shuttle. The Rim Trail is still muddy and snowy, and well, it’s the Rim Trail. Right along the rim. Nothing between us and the Colorado River a mile down. We opt for the shuttle.
We drive into downtown Grand Canyon, aka the Village, and park by the train station. A short walk takes us to the Hermit’s Rest shuttle stop, which is empty. We hop on an empty bus and chat with the driver as we ascend. The road to Hermit’s Rest has the highest point on the South Rim, and we are definitely climbing. The shuttle stops at all the points on the way to Hermit’s Rest, and then only a couple on the return trip. The game plan is to hop off and on during the trip west, have a snack at Hermit’s Rest, hike down into the canyon a short ways on the Hermit’s Rest Trail, and then blast back to the Village for lunch.
This turns out to be a brilliant plan. Our first hop from the shuttle is Powell Point, where we meet a nice family from Texas and shoot a panorama. The light is changing minute by minute in the canyon.
We hop off and on the shuttle several times, and hike between some of the overlooks. Between Hopi Point and Mohave Point, we walk along the road, avoiding the slippery Rim Trail. On both sides of the road, elk are ripping limbs off the evergreen trees for a snack. These are large mammals. They don’t pay much attention to us, so we pass them without incident.
Once at Hermit’s Rest, we buy some snacks and rest our legs. Then we head down the Hermit Trail, past warnings about hiking in warm temperatures at high altitudes, and what to do if you see a mountain lion. Good thing we’re taking a short hike! We’re not in shape for anything long.
The trail has some pretty narrow spots, which remind us what we’re descending into. About twenty minutes down is enough for us. We shoot a panorama (it’s here), admire the view, and start hiking back up. On the way up, we get a great look at the rocks we’ve been looking out over for a couple days. The layers are ever-changing. What a place – clearly one could spend a lifetime studying this canyon and not cover it all.
Back at Hermit’s Rest, the buses are disgorging more and more people. We hop on one and start back down to the Village. At the Village, where we were the only ones to get on the bus earlier, there are easily fifty or sixty people waiting.
There’s a cafeteria at the Maswick Lodge, so we rest our legs some more and have lunch. We decide we deserve an ice cream after our morning on the trail.
Back in the car and out of the park. It’s about 1:15pm, around the same time we came in yesterday. Quite a different story today – the line of cars to enter the park reaches all the way from the park gate to just above Tusayan. Wow, did we play that perfectly.
Back at the hotel, into the pool, out of the pool, pizza for dinner, and early to bed. We’re still fighting the time difference.