Tag Archives: Bright Angel Trail

On the road in our Allegro Bus; Part One — June 9-23, 2018

We concluded our last post with this paragraph:

We left Parks on June 9, driving up to the [Las Vegas] KOA campgrounds at SamsTown Casino on Boulder Highway.  Barb’s dad Cliff lives here in Vegas, as does Barb’s son Jeff.  Jeff’s son Zane will join us soon from Utah.  Barb’s granddaughter Abigail has already flown in from Rincon, near Savannah, GA.  In a few days, Norwegian friends Rasmus and Kari will be here, and we will all attend a Cirque du Soleil performance.  At the end of the week the Norwegians will return with us in the RV to Parks, where we will visit for some days before we all head out (in our two RVs) on a leisurely tour of some of the National Parks on the way toward Salt Lake City, from which Rasmus & Kari will fly back to Norway….

We enjoyed seeing Jeff and Zane and Abigail in Las Vegas.  Barb took Abigail for several trips to the Strip, and one day we took Abbey out for a quick visit to The Valley of Fire.  It was hot, but nevertheless we went for a noonish hike at White Domes.  We misinterpreted a trail sign and got diverted onto a long and lesser-used trail that we followed for a time before realizing our mistake and backtracking.  Abby was not a happy camper hiker.

We got together with Rasmus & Kari for lunch one day, and we joined Jeff and Zane and Abigail for some bowling. And we all, Rasmus & Kari, Jeff & Zane, Abigail, and Barb & I, enjoyed the performance of “O” at Cirque du Soleil.

Leaving Abigail with Jeff in Vegas, we returned to Parks with our RV and toad and guests Rasmus & Kari.  Bill & Colleen hosted them in their home after our arrival.  We spent about a week there, during which we hiked every morning before breakfast.  Bill showed Rasmus the nearby Lava cave.  Colleen took them both to the nearby Bearizona Wildlife Center.  And we had many group meals on picnic tables on Bill’s garage driveway, and we all gathered for a movie shown on the TV housed on the outside of Bruce’s  RV.

Joined by Buck in his own class A RV, we took our Allegro Buses up to “boondock” on National Forest land just a bit south of Grand Canyon.  We spent  three days there, taking our toads up to the South Rim.  Bill, Rasmus and Buck hiked down the Bright Angel Trail into the Canyon, descending all the way to Plateau Point.  And one evening we all splurged and enjoyed a wonderful meal at the historic El Tovar Lodge, which first opened for service in 1905.

We then returned back to Parks so that Bill could get some dental work done in Flagstaff.  While headquartered in Parks, Barb & I took Kari & Rasmus to The Walnut Creek National Monument near Falstaff.   

Walnut Canyon was formed by 60 million years of water flowing first as a gentle creek across the plateau, then etching and carving its way through steep passes. Deep gorges formed in the sandstone, limestone, and other ancient desert rock some 20 miles long and 400 feet deep.

The ledges formed by the winding Walnut Creek left natural alcoves that were perfect for sheltering native peoples from the wind and snow that reaches the Monument’s higher elevations. Sometime between 1100 and 1250, over 100 people lived in Walnut Canyon.

The Sinagua Indians grew crops along the canyon’s rim and along the walls. No one knows for certain why they left, but they left behind fascinating cliff dwellings that render the Monument well worth visiting.

Stay tuned for Part Two, where we continue our account of our leisurely trip toward Salt Lake City with Bill & Colleen in their Allegro Bus and with our guests Kari & Rasmus aboard our own Allegro Bus.

Visit to Bill/Colleen, Part 2 — Grand Canyon, September 6-9, 2014

We had a thoroughly enjoyable time during our visit with Bill & Colleen.  All of it.  But the highlight of the visit has to be our multi-day camping trip to the southern rim of Grand Canyon.  Bill & Colleen own a perfectly comfortable and commodious fifth wheel camper, but as luck would have it, Bill’s boss had graciously offered Bill the use of his ginormous ShowHauler camper as a reward for Bill having found and fixed a number of problems with the beast.  Bill accepted, but delayed cashing in on the offer until we could arrive and share the bounty with him.  Have I mentioned that the ShowHauler is HUGE?  When we pulled into the parking lot of the IMAX theatre, we were immediately surrounded by at least 20 tourists who simply HAD to get a picture!

Bill is an active and accomplished hiker who has many many times walked all the way down one side of the canyon and up the other, spent the night, and then repeated the hike in reverse order the next day.  But knowing the physical limitations of Barb and me (especially), he wisely suggested that we descend only about half way and then return to our starting point.  Normally, Colleen would be perfectly capable of such a feat, but since she was suffering from a severe cold and/or allergy attack, she elected to remain in the camper while we indulged in an awesome “stroll”.

Bill suggested that we take the Bright Angel Trail down about 4 ½ miles to the Indian Garden site, some 3,040 feet below the rim, where a spring has created a surprising and remarkable oasis.  The trail is sometimes steep and sometimes not so much, sometimes wide and sometimes not so much, but always navigable by the pack of mules that carry the tourists less ambitious and/or fit than ourselves.  Barb wears a fitbit and runs a “Map my Track” app on her iPhone.  Interestingly enough, they reported that we went almost 11 miles rather than the expected 9.  We took only a minimum amount of water with us, knowing that we could replenish our supply at each of the rest station cabins that came every 1 ½ miles.  (On our way back up, we rested a good bit more often than every rest station.)

It goes without saying that the Canyon is visually awe inspiring, but we were also impressed by the infrastructure provided by the National Park Service.  Free shuttle buses, informative displays, interesting Park Ranger programs and well-equiped and maintained campgrounds.  Everything first class.

On two days subsequent to the hike, we visited by car and by foot some of the other vistas along the southern rim, ending our visit at the Desert View Watchtower, a 70-foot-high stone building more than 20 miles to the east of the main developed area at Grand Canyon Village. The four-story structure, completed in 1932, was designed by American architect Mary Colter. The tower was designed to resemble an Ancient Pueblo Peoples watchtower. The base was intentionally designed to convey a partly ruinous appearance, perhaps of an older structure on which the watchtower was later built. The base is arranged within a large circle with the tower to the north. Tiny windows are irregularly arranged, some of which are themselves irregular in shape. The main space is the Kiva Room in the base structure. (Faithful readers will recognize the significance of “Kiva Room” from our earlier posting about Mesa Verde.)

One other thing deserves mention about our Canyon experience:  the repeated presence of elk in the campground, grazing with perfect aplomb and indifference to the tourists frantically taking photographs from only a few yards away.

All in all, the camping trip to the Canyon was a fantastic experience for which we owe an enormous amount of gratitude to Bill and Colleen.