At last, the Grand Canyon, AZ

We arrived in Jacob Lake, AZ at 5:30 in the evening. As predicted, there’s not very much to Jacob Lake. But the RV park was very nice, run by a couple of retired couples. We ended up parked next to a family from New Jersey. The dad had lost his job so they decided to take six weeks, rent a camper, and see the country. They were nice folks, constantly offering us cocktails.
Jacob Lake is at 8000 feet so the weather was surprisingly cool after southern Utah. We made a great meal of barbecued chicken and went to bed. Next morning it was off to the North Rim down highway 64. At this point an hours drive feels like nothing, so we enjoyed the view as we headed south. There are many signs of forest fires on both sides of the road, some natural and some controlled fires set to reduce the available fuel. There are also big swaths of grassland with deer and bison grazing on both sides. The bison are quite impressive when they’re a few feet from the side of the road:
At the Grand Canyon Lodge, the park rangers are very frank about the perils of hiking in the heat and high altitude. Their approach is aimed at preventative education, rather than spending their time on search and rescue. Even with all of the proactive work, we still saw a bunch of people heading out for hikes wearing flip flops and without a drop of water. At first we walked some of the short, paved perimeter trails that run around the lodge, snapping pictures in every direction because the canyon was all around us.
The only trail on this side of the canyon that goes down is the North Kaibab Trail. It’s pretty much straight down the side of the canyon in switchbacks. You’re sharing the trail with the mule trains so things are a bit smelly, but the views are just amazing. The park service tells you to decide on a total hiking time, then walk downwards for one third of that time. It will easily take you twice as long to walk out as it took to get in. Not only is the air pretty thin, but the temperature climbs 10 degrees for every 100 feet you descend. The canyon floor can be 120 to 140 degrees in the sun. Thankfully the canyon floor is an impossible 28 miles away, so we contented ourselves with reaching an overlook a couple of miles down.
The girls slogged away like troopers and ended up enjoying themselves despite the smell and heat.
The next morning, it was pack up and head out again. This time to beautiful Barstow, CA, in the heart of the Mojave desert.

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