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658 Grand Canyon - Rim Trail 2012-06-15

Grand Canyon froma view point near Mather Point

After leaving Petrified Forest National Park, we were off for Grand Canyon. We stopped in Flagstaff for groceries and were sad that we did not have time to explore the town, but Grand Canyon awaited.

It was late afternoon before we arrived at Mather Campground on the South Rim. As we were registering at the camper check-in station, a bicycle touring rider was also trying to register. The only problem was that he could not speak English. The Park employee kept asking him questions and the rider responded in his native tongue, but probably not the right answer. There was definitely a communication gap. A helpful traveling hint - if you ever tour to a non-English speaking country, always carry a basic information card formatted in your language and in the language of the country you are visiting.

Our campsite in Mather Campground was fine. It was actually a good distance from the neighboring sites and quite spacious. What did amaze us was the lack of rules and even more the lack of enforcement of the few rules that were suggested. Neighboring campers left food all over their sites for days. There were no volunteer hosts and we never saw a Park employee other than maintenance workers in the campground.

On our first day in the Park we woke early and walked to Mather Point. Wow!

There were a lot of visitor activities in the area, but our schedule was not the same as theirs. We were hours too early and none of the facilities were open. We decided to walk back to the campsite and prepare for a longer hike. We were going to walk the Rim Trail.

Leaving camp we returned to the Mather Point area by riding the shuttle bus. The free service picked us up near the campground and took us to the Visitor's Center. It was open on our return trip, but we did not have time for a visit.

The Rim Trail follows the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. We started at Mather Point and headed west toward Hermits Rest. The walk was easy and mostly shaded. The views were outstanding too. We took picture after picture and just couldn't stop.

Soon we were at the western visitor's center near Bright Angel Trailhead. The crowds (which we were a part of ...) were immense. Thousands of tourists lined the rim trying to catch a special view and everyone had either cameras or phones. The photographers always set up their camera so that they shot across the trail. We were probably photographed hundreds of times as we tried to dodge the snapping shutters.

Finally we found passage through the masses and thought we would be able to have a little more peace. After a short hike we neared another scenic viewpoint. A shuttle bus also made the stop and our quite hike was once again crowded. We soon realized that each overlook was also a shuttle bus stop. The road from Bright Angel Trailhead to Hermit's Rest was not open to vehicles. If you wanted to visit the many view points along the route, visitors had to take the shuttle or walk. There were not many hikers, but there were thousands of shuttle riders. We could not escape them and finally at Pima Point we decided to join the masses and took a shuttle bus back to the campground.

It was a good hike with unbelievable views. If we had started our hike earlier the crowds would have probably been manageable. We still thought the hike was a good Park orientation.

Happy Grand Canyon trails


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