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Red Rock Road Trip

 Monday, 9/8/97 

Grand Canyon: Grandview Point, and a Rainbow

"The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As long as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles" ---Anne Frank

predawn light (11kb)

Java in hand, I headed for Grandview Point on the East Rim drive, arriving a half hour before sunrise. Monday morning never felt so good. I'd done a little recon the day before, so I headed down Grandview Trail to a couple of spots I'd picked for sunrise. The image at left, with the Colorado River in the foreground, was shot about 15 minutes before the sun came up, by the glow of the eastern sky.

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Grandview Trail (11kb)

Grandview Trail (pictured down the left side of the image at right) is very steep, with lots of loose rock, and is not maintained by the National Park Service like Bright Angel and Kaibab Trails are. On the plus side, you don't have to dance around the droppings generated by the mule trains on the other trails.

"The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity . . . and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself." ---William Blake

first light of morning (12kb)

This trail was blazed by miners over a hundred years ago, and was used to reach a copper mine that was briefly located on Horseshoe Mesa. Equally hard to imagine was Kolb Studio, a photography studio of the same era whose only source of water for developing film was a spring 3 miles down Bright Angel Trail. I think I'd have considered cattle rustling. I only hiked about a third of a mile down Grandview Trail, shooting along the way. The hike out kicked my keister, and I wasn't carrying 5 gallons of water.

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couple watching sunrise (11kb)

I decided the rim trail was very nice....and flat. I had clearly seen Bright Angel and South Kaibab Trails from various overlooks, and clearly saw they would require an investment of time and energy I wasn't inclined to make. My short stint on Grandview Trail confirmed this, but was still quite enjoyable. Being a Monday at a less popular point, there was ample solitude. Just me, a few couples (at right), and some critters (see below), all taking in the sunrise.

"Disappointment, when it involves neither shame nor loss, is as good as success; for it supplies as many images to the mind, and as many topics to the tongue." ---Samuel Johnson

Looking west from Grandview Point (12kb)

I'd hoped to spend the afternoon hiking the rim trail from Maricopa Point to Hopi Point, on the West Rim Drive. Mother Nature had other plans; rain, thunder, and lightning.....not the best of environments for electronic cameras and metal tripods. But just the same, I headed out to the shuttle stop for the West Rim, in hopes the weather would break. What else did I have to do?

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squirrel taking in the sunrise (10kb)

I guess I could have gone to see the IMAX movie on the Grand Canyon just outside the south entrance, but it seems kinda silly to go see a movie about a place that's just up the road. Plus, I'd already seen it at Fernbank in Atlanta (it is good). Finding a good parking place was easy, and I spent about two hours sitting in the White Whale reading a book, a mere 50 yards from the rim, and the shuttle I planned to take. By 5pm, an actual cloud rolled over the rim, enveloping my vehicle. Since it was too late to take the shuttle even if the weather broke, I decided to head for Yavapai Point and wait in the parking lot. But driving through a cocoon of cumulus, I wasn't hopeful.

"Nature has no mercy at all. Nature says, ' I'm going to snow. If you have on a bikini and no snowshoes, that's tough. I am going to snow anyway.' " ---Maya Angelou

storm light in the canyon (9kb)

As I literally drove out of the cloud, I noticed .... sunshine. I looked over my shoulder to see the sun peeking through a small window in the clouds. Looking forward, in addition to the dark gray sky I saw .... a rainbow. Still miles from Yavapai Point, I goosed it, certain the short-lived conditions that create a rainbow would be gone by the time I got there. And who knew where the rainbow might be in relation to the canyon.

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rainbow at Yavapai Point (11kb)

But the spirits rewarded my afternoon of patience. An entangled mess of poncho over camera straps attached to a tripod, I frantically set up and shot, and in about 4 minutes, it was gone. It's not as apparent in this image, but you always think of a rainbow as a half circle. Below the rim of the Grand Canyon, the circle continues past 90 degrees. Most unusual, and most fulfilling to have the chance to see it.

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