Thursday, February 24, 2011

More Grand Canyon Photos -- Up We Must Climb

This posting will be the next to last that includes pictures from the out-west trip, and the last with Grand Canyon photos. The final trip posting will include pictures from the Tucson Gem Show and a hike east of Phoenix.

First, here is one photo I forgot to post yesterday. I saw this boulder along side the creek and thought it might be a stramatolite formation. As I've posted on the blog before, stramatolites were ancient algae colonies that grew in boulder-size mushroom formations. If it were not for stramatolites, we wouldn't be here since this organism was the first to photosynthesize the energy of the sun with oxygen as a by-product. Thus, before stramatolites there was no oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere. To the scientists amazement, this organism is still around today after 3.5 billion years of existence. Living colonies have been found in Australia and a few other places. I noticed this boulder and later looked it up -- yes there are stramatolite fossils along the creek and the North Kaibab trail.

The morning that we climbed out of the Grand Canyon, we awoke to a 5:00 a.m. knock-on-your-door wake-up call. We had mostly packed our gear the night before so we could quickly be at the 5:30 breakfast seating. Phylster decided to pay the $64 fee to have her pack brought to the top via mule. She had extra room and weight allowance (maximum 30 pounds) in her pack so all but Helen chipped in to off-load our packs a bit. After dropping off Phyl's pack, we started hiking by head-lamp past the Bright Angel Campground to the Silver Bridge.

After around 30 or 40 minutes the sun came up -- although we couldn't see it since we were hiking a two-mile stretch of relatively flat trail along the Colorado River in the inner gorge. However, you can look up and see some of the rock formations starting to glow with the morning's sunshine.

We came across a solo-hiker who offered to take this group photo for us.

Around an hour into the hike, the mule train passed us. I didn't get a picture of it, but I guess the last mule had Phyl's pack.

Once we made a left turn at Pipe Creek toward the south rim, there was this carin. Apparently other hikers have placed rocks to wish for good luck on the climb out, so we did, too.

Here are some shots from the first part of our tackling the elevation change.

After five miles we arrived at Indian Gardens. As you can see, the temperature was around 39 degrees.

We were visited by yet another raven.

After a long lunch break, we headed the 4.5 miles to the top. During the next stretch we were visited by mule deer and the Mountain Bluebird.

Here is the view of Indian Gardens from the 3-mile house.

Only 1 1/2 miles to go!

Finally you turn around a switchback in the trail and see the Kolb Studio on the facing cliff. At that point you know you are going to make it, even though you still have 3/4 of a mile to go. All you want to do is to get there!

Then we finally made it the 9.6 miles to the top after ten hours of hiking. We received an applause from an appreciative couple, which caused others to take pictures of us celebrating the climb. I would like to thank my friends Wendy, Helen, and Phyl for sharing an incredible experience!


  1. Hey great blog! I work on Great Lakes Piping Plovers so I am in Grand Marais often. I have a few interesting looking "maybe agates" I have found their and at Vermillion beach. Anyway just letting you know that the "Mountain Bluebird" in this post is really a Western Scrub-jay but its a great photo!

  2. Thanks. I love Vermillion Beach. As for the bird, a friend showed me a picture in the Grand Canyon brochure where the bird is identified as a pinyon jay. Would that be the same?