Christian Kemp's USA travelogs

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Grand Canyon

Looking 3000 feet down into into Grand Canyon at sunrise, from near the Toroweap overlook I woke up before sunrise at around 5am, and therefore had quite a bit of time to kill before being able to drive the slickrock road to the canyon rim - I wouldn't want to drive that without at least a bit of available light. Sometime after 6am, it was safe enough to drive, so I still made it to the canyon rim before sunrise.

I stepped up to the edge, and was hit by several impressions: it's much higher than I had expected, the drop-off is harsher too (at times, you see the rock you're standing on, and then the next thing you see is the river, many hundred feet below)... And of course the biggest thought was an inner monologue: "you fool, get away from the edge!"

Sunrise, unfortunately, wasn't much to write home about - the sun was visible for just a handful of minutes, and disappeared behind a cloud cover.

So instead of taking pictures that would have done the vista a better justice, I ended up taking pictures that probably look slightly flat and have an over-exposed sky (due the clouds and the associated high contrast with the dark canyon walls); and instead spent most of the morning talking to one of the guys who had camped at the rim the previous night.

We said our goodbyes at around 11am, and I headed out. I had intended to drive out to Fredonia, but on a whim decided to drive to Lava Falls first - a somewhat short road requiring high clearance in places (and the 4WD probably came in useful too, although it probably wouldn't have been necessary). Even though it's only 1.5 miles from the Lava Falls trailhead to the Colorado, I only hiked down a hundred feet - it was more of a scramble than a hike, and I didn't particularly fancy straining my knee again.

Written Friday 13th, just after sunset at my camp site for the night, a few miles off Hole-in-the-Rock road.

Instead, I decided to head back into civilisation again. I had a nice burger, coke, fries and coffee at a burger joint in Kanab. For some reason, I decided not to head towards Grand Canyon's North Rim, but instead took UT 89 east to get to Cottonwood Road.

On Cottonwood Canyon Rd Cottonwood Road

Cottonwood Canyon Road - an unpaved road that is part of the newly created Grand Staircase-Escalante monument - gets a lot of through traffic... I saw quite a few cars, but only very few people seemed to ever stop and get out of their cars to savour the natural beauty that surrounded them. Maybe that's because the road - even though it's just dirt - is the shortest way from Lake Powell to Bryce Canyon and adjacent communities... or maybe people just like the comfort of their air-conditioned cars a bit too much.

The entire drive was hot and dusty - it looked like it hadn't rained in quite some time. While the road was unpaved, it wasn't technical; and quite a few normal sedans were driving it without any problem.

Grosvenor Arch

At the northern end of Cottonwood Road, before the road turns paved again, a short side street heads to Grosvenor Arch - a large sandstone arch that was beautifully illuminated by the setting sun.

I walked around for a while, trying to find the best spot for my pictures; but ultimately didn't spend much time there.

Written March 16th 2004

I opted not to stop in Kodachrome State Park, and instead quickly joined Highway 12. My plan for the little remaining sunlight was to get as close to Hole-in-the-rock as possible.

My camping spot for the night a few miles from Hole-In-The-Rock road To do this, I took Highway 12 east, fueled up in Escalante, and shortly afterwards turned onto Hole in the Rock road. This started out as a very easy dirt road - very wide, almost no potholes; so I made good progress. However, it became apparent that I wouldn't be able to make it all the way to Hole-in-the-rock before sun-down; so I took a side road (leading to Harri's Wash) for a couple of miles and stopped at a spot that looked like it had previously been used for camping.

Pretty fast, the sun disappeared in a pretty unspectacular sunset, and I sat down to write the first half of this day's trip report; and then slept nicely enough in the back of the Blazer, even if it was still slightly too hot for my taste.

Written March 17th 2004

Miles driven: 227mi (365km)

Campground Accommodation: Near a tree, next to a small dirt road (Somewhere near Hole-in-the-rock road): $0