A stormy story

So let me say right up front, I am completely, 100% biased toward The North Rim of the Grand Canyon compared to The South Rim of The Grand Canyon.  I visited the Other Rim many moons ago and don’t care to return, however, this is my second time to the North Rim and I look forward to returning again and again.

I remember the South Rim to be hot and dusty, reddish dirt colored, not much vegetation to speak of other than mesquite, and full of tourists and tour buses, hotels, fast food, and tourist attractions.

Now, the North Rim on the other hand… 

Let me share with you the majesty of the North Rim.  First of all, really the only thing there is at the North Rim is a Historic Lodge with cabins and a campground with a small gas station and fixit garage. Oh, and a Visitor’s Center. It is green and lush, covered with dense forest interspersed with vast and small, wild flower strewn meadows. 

The North Rim is much cooler than the South Rim as it sits at an average of 8,000 feet which is about 1,200 feet higher than the South Rim.

Take a look at the only road into the North Rim.  Ain’t no red dirt dust tour bus hotel tourist traps anywhere in sight!

One road in.  One road out.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I was lucky to score a semi last minute reservation at the campground, which sits right on the rim of one of the side canyons and is hiking distance to the Lodge/Visitor’s Center. Not to worry, there are many pictures of the canyon and side canyons to come, but first, a moment to explain the weather. 

What is with me and the weather and temperatures, I was wondering earlier today.  I think I get it from my Mother.  Anywho…

There were storms in the area, so much so that my phone, which otherwise had no signal, kept sending me alert notifications about them.

Upon arrival at the North Rim, I set my sights on getting myself expeditiously to the rim so to take in the view.  Storms all around, rain here and then not, gusty wind, and the occasional thunder boomer.  Not to worry, I braved the elements. Take a look.

The next day I had hoped to hike the 10 mile Widforss Trail which skirts along the rim of the Transept Canyon upon which the campground sits, but this trail is on the other side.  No matter, moving on… the storm cells were still lingering in the vicinity, but what’s a girl to do?  I said to myself, how bad could it be?  If worse comes to worse, I’ll just scurry back to my car, so off to the trailhead I drove and set out on my much anticipated hike.

Well. As you can imagine given the aforementioned description of the weather, the role of the die did not play in my favor.  I had not gone a half a mile before the big wind kicked into gear like something Dorothy may have encountered once upon a time.  No worries, so I pressed ahead a few more minutes when the rains came.  Again, no worries.  I’m accustomed to hiking in wind and rain.  In fact, it’s kind of fun, thank you Alaska! Moving on a moment more and, que the HAIL!  Yes, THE HAIL.  Ha!  It was all really too much, I had to laugh out loud and shake my head yet still I pressed on.  This is where likely most of you are shaking your own heads over my, ahem…Silliness? Craziness? Stupidity??? Hmmm.

It really was over the top, but press on I did since the hail was only pea sized and was melting too fast to become dangerous ball bearings under my feet.  I’d say I made it about 10 steps further when there was the loudest crack of lightning and boom of thunder.  So loud, the inside of my chest was vibrating.  Oh my.

Alrighty then!  Immediate about-face.  Quick march, double time back to the van.  I’ll hike in the wind, the rain, and even hail, but I will not willingly hike in lightning, so return to the van I did and thanked my lucky stars I was only a half mile or so away.

It was all so dramatic.  The rain was big and fat rain, the wind was big and random and gusty, and the hail??? Gimme a break!  I mean, I was really waiting for the locusts to arrive.  It was all very Old Testament.  

So, given all that, I decided instead to drive to all the various vistas and venture only out on the short paved paths to said viewpoints.  With the storms, it really was all uniquely gorgeous; the forests, the drives, the wildflowers, the views, the clouds, the windy rain.  Even though none of the canyon photos do the actual views justice, it was spectacular and lots of fun playing dodgeball with the storm cells.  Take a look.

These are just a handful of the dozens of varieties of wildflowers I saw in the meadows and along the road. 

In the shot below, I think you can get a feel for the storminess of the day.  Pretty cool, I think.

And just a little while later and up a bit higher.  I really love this shot.  I think that is called, Angel’s Window or Angel’s Gate…something like that.  If you look closely, you can see the tiny figures up on top as it is a viewpoint from which I think I took the banner photo.

A great day overall, I’d say.  One for the books for sure.

I decided to pull up stakes a day early because I made tour reservations for Antelope Canyon, something I’ve been wanting to do since last I was in this area and didn’t do then.

But! Before leaving The Rim, I headed back to the Widfross Trail and set out for just a few hours.  The sun was shining though it was interspersed with storm clouds and the occasional, but distant sound of thunder.  Once again, I saw so many varieties of wildflowers as I hiked among the Ponderosa Pine and either Birch or Aspen, I can’t remember how to tell which.

 

Vanilla or Butterscotch?

I’ve been meaning to have this conversation for awhile now, so here we are with the perfect segue.  

There are two camps.  Vanilla and Butterscotch, with vanilla being the most popular, I think.  I myself am a butterscotch girl.  You see, if you walk up to a Ponderosa Pine and give the bark a good sniff, you will get a big whiff of either Vanilla or Butterscotch, so the next time you see one, do just that so you can cast your olfactory vote.  Either way is a win in my book since they both smell yummy.

I took this tree picture on my hike this morning just so we could talk about Butterscotch and Vanilla.  These are fairly young Ponderosa Pine as I’ve seen them as big as young Redwood trees, tall and huge.  Don’t forget to take a whiff next time you see one!

On to my favorite thing of the day.

While walking along the trail enjoying the general splendor of all things, I came upon a little side path which took me to my favorite view of all, so I had to say heck with the rest of the hike and sit a spell to drink in all God’s Glory that in the moment took the form of what you see below. 

No other words are necessary, so I’ll leave you to enjoy it.

ELO UPDATE:

After several days with no cell service, Elo was able to reach out to me this morning.  It seems she has been enjoying Sante Fe, especially the Haagen Daas store there.  Most recently though, she has been at Palo Duro Canyon State Park south of Amarillo, TX.  She seems to have liked it very much. 

She had a wild turkey with 7 biddies stroll through her campsite this morning and got to ride her mountain bike.

Take a look at the photos she sent.   

Palo Duro Canyon

That looks like single track!

Pretty fantastic scenery all the way around.

For me, I get to walk through the famous Antelope Canyon tomorrow morning with a drive to Durango I think  afterward.

I awoke yesterday feeling the pull of home for the first time since this trip began.  Who knows how quickly that pull will draw me East, so for now, I’ll say, “Bodhi and Stella, I’m on my way!” and to you fine folk, I say, stay tuned.

Until next time…

18

Comments:

  • Gaelyn

    August 20, 2021

    My favorite weather at the canyon but wise to respect lightning. Always aspen up there. The Ponderosa smell like cookies to me. Enjoy Antelope, if there’s no suggestion of rain.

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    • Margie

      August 20, 2021

      Cookies! Marvelous! Thanks for the heads up about the Aspen. I too love the wild weather and fortunately, there is only sun in the forecast for Antelope Canyon tomorrow.

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  • Lee Anne

    August 20, 2021

    My husband makes an annual hiking trip to the North Rim every August and will be there this Sunday. Thanks for the weather report, awesome photos and lessons in tree sniffing. 5 years ago after recovering from a traumatic bicycle accident, we rented a basic camper van in Las Vegas and I drove around and camped the NR area while he hiked Rim to Rim. That was when I fell in love with the camper van style of travel and now own the Roadtrek! Great memories.

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  • Tena

    August 20, 2021

    Stormy hiking! I had a similar experience several months back at New River State Park. Started on a hike and about 15 minutes out the skies opened and I reversed course. But got drenched to the skin. Soon as I got back to my car, the Sun came out. I decided to try again. The skies opened again, so I headed home and drove a two lane road in nearly blinding rain. Soon as I made it off the twisty-turny to the Interstate, the sun came out. But it was still all exhilarating! Thanks for showing me the North Rim!

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  • Silver Hjellen

    August 23, 2021

    Fantastic photos despite the cloudiness. Really look forward to your writing about Antelope Canyon. It has been highly recommended to me. So glad it is supposed to be sunny.

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    • Margie

      August 23, 2021

      I took SO many photos in Antelope Canyon, but can’t get them uploaded for some reason. I’ll keep trying and will post them as soon as I’m successful.

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  • Darden Yerkes

    August 31, 2021

    I spent my 30th birthday camping at the north rim, it hasn’t changed a bit in…26 years. Did you see any white tail squirrels?

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