6/29 Friday

We left Springdale around 8:00 a.m. to head to Bryce Canyon. We stopped at the Visitor’s Center for information and an intro movie. Around 11:00, we started our first hike. Beginning at Sunset Point, we took the Navajo Trail to the Queen’s Garden Trail and returned to Sunset Point along the Rim Trail. The Navajo Loop was partly closed due to a recent slide near Wall Street. Being able to get down near the hoodoos was really neat. We really saw up close how erosion has created some of natures strangest geological features.

After that hike, we ate lunch in the nearby picnic grounds, and then drove to Inspiration Point for a 2:00 p.m. ranger talk geology. After that, we drove to the south end of the park. The view from the south end was amazing. We could see over 100 miles away. We could see distant features like Navajo Mountain, the White Cliffs, and the Vermilion Cliffs.

We drove back to Ruby’s Motel and checked in. Then we went to the north end of the park for a hike to Mossy Cave and a waterfall. Then back to Sunset Point to see how the sunset was shaping up. After we took some pictures of the hoodoos with the warm light from the low sun, we decided the sunset wouldn’t be that interesting there, so we checked out the gift shop at Bryce Lodge and also at Ruby’s. We returned to Sunset Point to see the full moon and take more pictures, then back to the motel.

6/28 Thursday

We got up early to get started on a full day of hiking. After parking at the Visitor’s Center in Zion we took the shuttle to the Dripping Springs stop. From there, we took the trail to Hidden Canyon. This was a moderate hike, but it had a neat ledge we had to walk along near the top.

The maintained trail ends in Hidden Canyon about 800 feet above the main canyon floor. From there, we continued on into Hidden Canyon, but scrambling and rock climbing skills were required to get very far. The situation was made more difficult by the slick rock and loose sand. After a couple of difficult obstacles, we turned back.

On the way back to the Visitor’s Center on the shuttle, we stopped to take pictures at the Court of the Patriarchs. From the Visitor’s Center, we drove toward the east entrance to do the Canyon Overlook Trail. This was an easy trail that lead to a great view of the canyon that comes into the park from the east.

After the hike, we returned to Springdale to pick up lunch from a deli and return to the motel. After a rest, we drove up the the west part of Zion off I-15 to Kolob Canyon. We did the 5-mile scenic drive, stopping for pictures. We would have hiked some trails, but we wanted to return to the main Zion canyon to do the Angel’s Landing hike.

After parking the car and taking the shuttle to the Grotto stop, we began our hike around 6:00 p.m. The first two miles of the trail was pretty standard canyon hiking along switchbacks to ascend quickly. There was also a level part of the hike into a nice side canyon (Refrigerator Canyon). After the very steep second set of switchbacks (Walter’s Wriggles), we got to see why this hike is one of the most famous in the National Park System. A narrow fin of rocks is all that connects the landing to the main canyon wall. Rock cairns and chains are in place to use as needed. The fin itself slopes down on each side. Falling one way will land you about 1200 feet down on the canyon floor, the other about 800 feet down in Refrigerator Canyon. Best to stay in the middle along the fin. The final ascent to the landing required use of all four limbs, and felt more like rock climbing than hiking, but Teagan loved it. Richard was somewhat less enthusiastic.

Once atop the landing, the view was simply spectacular. We got a nearly 360 degree view of Zion Canyon that was awe inspiring. We stayed there at least 30 minutes soaking up the view.

We left the landing around 9:00 p.m. to return down. There was plenty of twilight to traverse the fin, but once we got past that we used a flashlight for safety. We arrived at the Grotto shuttle stop at 10:00 p.m. to await the shuttle.

By the time we got a shuttle and drove back to Springdale, it was after 11:00. The only place open in town was the Bit and Spur Saloon. Luckily, they were still serving food, so we were able to get something to eat.

6/27 Wednesday

We left the motel in Page around 7:30 a.m. On the way out of town, we stopped at a dam overlook to try to see the Glen Canyon Dam. After a short hike to the edge of the overlook, we got a pretty good view of the two different water levels. Teagan took some pictures.

We proceeded through Kanab on to the Zion Nation Park east entrance. We parked in the visitors center and looked at the exhibits. Then we caught the shuttle to the history museum to watch an introductory film. It was pretty good.

We decided to head into Springdale to check-in and find lunch. We ate at Sol’s. We both got falafel’s which were ok, but not great.

Then we went back to the park to do some hiking. We rode the shuttle to the Grotto stop and picked up the Kayenta trail headed toward the Emerald Pool trails. We explored the middle and lower pool trails and headed to the lodge. From there, we went to the Weeping Rock Trail which led to a nice dripping area.

Then we took the shuttle to the last stop, the Temple of Sinawava and did the Riverside Walk all the way to the end of the paved trail.

We took the shuttle back to the Big Bend stop. We got off there to take a picture of the Great White Throne. Then back on the shuttle to exit at Canyon Junction for a walk on the Pa’rus Trail back to the Visitor’s Center.

We stopped at the Spotted Dog Cafe on the way back to the motel for supper.

6/26 Tuesday

We left the motel in Page around 8:30 a.m. to head to the Wahweap Marina where we had a Jet-ski reserved. Wahweap is located a few miles past the dam, built in 1957, from Page on Lake Powell.  After all the paperwork, safety films, instructions, and standing in line, we were in the water around 10:00.

We headed toward the dam from Wahweap. The ride was pretty rough most of the time.  All the waves generated by the boats just bounce off the canyon walls back into the middle.  They never really dissapate.

The mile marker system in Lake Powell starts counting miles from the dam. We first stopped at Antelope Marina for some gas. Then we proceeded on to Navajo Canyon, which is a side canyon from the main route through Glen Canyon. Navajo Canyon was really narrow in places so it was a lot of fun to navigate with the jet ski.

When we came out of Navajo Canyon, Richard missed the correct turn and we ended up, unbeknownst to us, in Warm Creek Bay. The bay was a lot of fun because the water was flat, so we could really fly on the jet ski. Once we realized we were off the beaten path, we turned around. We followed the main path to mile marker 15, then turned around to re-gas at Antelope.

While at the marina, we ate lunch. Then we headed up to Padre Bay and past it as far as mile marker 24. Padre Bay had a lot of the signature Utah red buttes, so it was fun to see.

Around 3:30, we turned back to head to the Wahweap Marina. Along the way, we explored Antelope Canyon. We arrived back at the marina a little after 5:00. After a little more paperwork, we were out of there to return to the motel.

We went to Strombolli’s for supper. Teagan ordered the Strombolli calzone. It was huge. It over-filled a 9″x11″ plate. We could have fed a small family with it. Teagan managed to eat half of it. Richard ordered Tuscan bread and a bowl of minestrone soup. Everything was pretty good.

We hit Wal-Mart for supplies, and returned to the motel around 9:00 p.m.

6/25 Monday

We left the motel in Tusayan around 7:30 a.m. to head back through Grand Canyon NP and out the east entrance. Along the way, we stopped at Grandview Point, Moran Point, Lipan Point, Navajo Point, and Desert View on the way out. After we left the park, we stopped at a scenic overlook for the Little Colorado Gorge. We arrived in Page, AZ, around 1:00 p.m. and headed to the office for our Antelope Canyon tour. On our truck there were six others plus the driver/guide. The trip to the slot canyon took 20 minutes – the last section over unpaved road. Access to the canyon was easy. The guide pointed out several places to take photographs. The light coming into the canyon produced many interesting colors and textures. Some places were very dim, requiring photo exposures of several seconds. The temperature was about 10 degrees cooler than outside. It felt great, because outside it was 100 degrees.

After returning from the tour of the slot canyon, we headed to the motel to check in. After that we headed to the Horseshoe Bend parking lot for a 3/4 mile hike to the Colorado River. The bend is a place where the river makes a 180 degree turn. The hike turned out to be more difficult than most short hikes due to the extreme heat and the sandy terrain.

We ate supper at Denny’s near the motel. Richard’s appetite and energy level seem to be back to normal, so he can keep up with Teagan on the hikes now.

6/24 Sunday

We left the motel around 6:40 a.m. to head to the park to catch a shuttle to Hermit’s rest.  Then we went on Hermit Trail until it meets the Dripping Springs Trail. These trails are unmaintained which made them more interesting than the Bright Angel and South Kiabab trails we had done earlier.  We really had to pay attention to our footwork.

The Hermit Trail was pretty steep on the way down, descending about 1400 feet in the first mile or so.  After it met the Dripping Springs Trail, we took it to the end, and of course there were dripping springs there. The ground was fairly level on the Dripping Springs part. It had ups and downs no matter which way on the trail you were going, which made it different from the other trails we’ve been on.

The most memorable part of the Dripping Springs Trail was the way it navigated around a huge depression on the western edge of Hermit’s Basin.  The trail was narrow, and at places, a single step or two toward the depression would land you about a thousand feet lower.  One of the hiking guides we looked at suggested that the trail was not for those with a fear of heights.

On the entire hike to the spring, we encountered only 4 other hikers.  That was a refreshing change from the other trails in the park as well.

Since Hermit trail had been so steep at the beginning, so we knew it wouldn’t be easy going back up, and it wasn’t. We ended up getting to the top at the same time, even though we would rest at different places on the trail going back up. I was dragging myself up the trail because near the end of the hike, Dad seemed to have more energy than I did. He was tired too though. It took us 2.5 hours to get to the end of the trail and 3 hours to get back.

I ate lunch at Hermit’s Rest and Dad just got a coke. Then we got on the shuttle and Dad was breathing hard from the walk to the bus stop. I had recovered though. We took the shuttle to Yavapai Observation Center. It had science stuff on the rocks and how the Grand Canyon was formed. It was interesting but there is a limit to how much of that stuff we want to know.

After that we took the shuttle to Shrine of the Ages to see what it was. It looked like a church thing, so we took the shuttle back to our car and back to the motel.

After we cleaned up and rested briefly, we returned to the park for sunset. This time we chose Mojave Point for viewing. After sunset, we returned to the motel.

6/23 Saturday

We left the motel around 7:00 a.m. and headed to the parking lot near Bright Angel Lodge for access to the Bright Angel Trail, the most popular trail in the park. Richard went down 1.5 miles to the first rest stop. Teagan went to that point but kept going further to the second rest stop. That was 3 miles down. Richard didn’t want to go that far so he just went up from the first stop and waited for me.

When I was almost down to the second rest stop I ran into this group of high school kids from North and South Carolina. I heard that they were going to try going to the bottom of the canyon and back up in 1 day. I just thought omg Good luck getting back up! They were trying to go to the bottom and back up in 1 day. Nobody recommends that.

On the way back up I ran into this couple and ended up hiking with them for a while. After half way up I decided to go on my own because I knew I could make better time.

When I was about 5 minutes from the top Dad took a few pics of me. I was so tired. I had been dragging myself. Dad had been looking at the condors. He saw 8 of them soaring over the canyon.
When we got back up I got lunch. I had recovered from the hike by the time we were done with lunch. Next we took the shuttle to Maricopa Point and walked back to Bright Angel Lodge. At some point on our walk Dad’s cell phone worked so we called Derek to wish him a Happy Birthday. At Bright Angel Lodge we looked in the gift shop and got some souvenirs. I got a shirt that said on the back ” I hiked, dragged myself, complained, nearly passed out, and barely made it out of the Grand Canyon.” That was so true this morning and it would be tomorrow morning too.

We went back to the hotel and cleaned up. I had a lot of dust on my legs and socks from the hike. We both took naps, even me. Then we went to watch the sunset at Yaki point. It was even better than last night because their were a few more clouds in the sky. It was very windy like it was last night too. We took the bus back to our car and went back to the motel.

6/22 Friday

We got up at 6:00 a.m. this morning to do the South Kiabab Trail hike as far as Cedar Ridge. This is one of the popular day hikes in the canyon. The trail head is not accessible by car. You have to ride one of the park shuttles to get there. We arrived at the trail head around 7:20. The trail begins with series of switchbacks that descend quickly into the canyon. From there, the trail proceeds to Cedar Ridge after another mile and a half. The total descent is around 1100 feet. The trail offers spectacular views along the way of the inner canyon. At Cedar Ridge, you get a nearly 360 degree view.

The return hike was problematic for me, whereas for Teagan is was a walk in the park. I had to rest several times. After I tired of Teagan’s insults, I instructed her to go ahead of me and meet me at the trailhead.

We rejoined at the top and took the trail shuttle back to a transfer point to take another shuttle to Bright Angel Lodge. We wanted to check to see if there were any single-day mule rides available into the canyon. Because the shuttles were so busy, it took a while to get across the park. It turned out there were rides available on Monday, but we didn’t want to do those.

While at Bright Angel Lodge, we picked up lunch, and walked the rim trail eastward to Yavapai Observation Station. From there, we took the shuttle back to the parking lot where our car was. It turned out that using the shuttle took a lot longer than we could have walked the distance.

We returned to the motel so I could rest and make some reservations for our next stop in Page. I reserved a “personal water craft” for Tuesday on Lake Powell and a trip to Antelope Canyon on Monday.

We returned to the park around 4:30 and took the shuttle out to Pima Point. Our plan was to walk the rim trail back to Hopi Point to watch the sunset. Unfortunately, a lot of the rim trail was not along the rim, but inland. After 3 miles, we came to The Abyss and decided to use the shuttle to get to Hopi Point. Because to the stops the shuttles make, we had to go all the way out to Hermit’s Rest and come back to Hopi Point. Since the bus stops for about 10 minutes at Hermit’s Rest, we got drinks there. While there, Teagan realized she left her camera somewhere, so I told the bus driver about it. With their communication system, he learned that a passenger on the next bus had turned a camera in and it would be at Hermit’s Rest in 10 minutes. So many cameras are left behind in the park, we didn’t know if it was Teagan’s or not, but it turned out that it was.

We finally got the Hopi Point right at sunset and saw a much prettier one than on Wednesday. The wind really kicked up during sunset and continued until the last bus came through to pick up the visitors on the Hermit line. We got to our car and returned to the motel around 9:00 p.m.

6/21 Thursday

We left the hotel around 10:00 to catch the nearby Imax movie about the Grand Canyon. The movie was about the history of the Grand Canyon.

After that, I booked a helicopter tour of the canyon and surrounding land. That left around 2:30. The tour headed east from Tusayan, then north toward the south rim. We got a view of the northern part of the Painted Desert before heading over the rim. The floor changed from about 100 feet to around 5,000 feet. We crossed the canyon to the north rim. There we say more trees due to the higher rainfall there from the higher elevation. We saw several impressive rock formations along the north rim as we headed west. After that, we went south back across the canyon and returned to the airport. It was a fantastic ride.

We headed back to the park to follow the bus route out to Hermit’s Rest. Along the way, we stopped at about 8 points with wonderful views.

After that, we headed back to the motel because my fever returned and I got chills. After I recovered, thanks to tylenol, we went to Pizza Hut Express in the Imax complex so Teagan could get a pizza. I stopped at a food mart to get some cereal and bananas for my first attempt at solid food in a while.

6/20 Wednesday

We left Santa Fe around 8:00 and headed to the Grand Canyon. Along the way, we stopped at the Petrified Forest National Park. We watched an introduction movie that explained how wood became petrified. After that we ate lunch in the adjoining restaurant.

We began the tour of the park by stopping at the various pull-outs that view the Painted Desert. The different colors in the rock were very striking. We spent more time in the Painted Desert part of the park than we thought we would because it was so striking.

After that we moved to the south part of the park where the petrified wood is. There wasn’t as much petrified would as we expected, but it was very interesting. Apparently, there used to be a lot more wood, but much of it has left the park.

We exited the park on the south side and followed a road into Holbrook to rejoin I-40. Once in Holbrook, we sought out the Wigwam Motel, perhaps the most famous icon of Route 66.

About this time, I decided that my lunch was upsetting my stomach, and had to make an unscheduled stop to expel it. The heat in the park was pretty intense, so that didn’t help matters either.

As we followed I-40 all the way to Williams, AZ, I made a few more similar stops. We exited I-40 to follow a road north to Tusayan where we had our hotel reservation for our Grand Canyon visit.

After we were checked in, we headed to the Grand Canyon, after a stop at Wendy’s, to see the sunset at Yavapai Point.  Then we headed back to the motel.