After the flight from Portland to Las Vegas, we hired the car and drove to the Grand Canyon. We arrived at about 7pm. Our first sighting of the canyon was after dinner when it was getting dark. Even in the semi dark, the huge canyon was an awesome sight.
The next morning we rose at about 4.30 am to try to catch the sunrise over the Canyon. As the sun begins to rise and the canyon fills with its light, the enormity of the canyon becomes apparent. The colours of the sheer sides of the canyon change constantly as the sun rises above the horizon and shadows give way to the suns rays.
The sunset is equally awesome and spectacular, as the shadows stretch over the base of the canyon and up the sides leaving darkness in the canyon and an horizon that glows as the sun disappears.
As you walk around the rim the view constantly changes, the different coloured layers glow as the sun moves across the sky.
The weather for the days that we were at the canyon was fairly constant, with generally blue skies and temperatures hovering around the 90F. mark. It took me a while to realise that the altitude was having an effect on my breathing, at 6500 feet the air is starting to get a bit thin. We made one attempt at walking down the canyon on one of the many tracks that have been cut into the sides of the walls. On the way down I was constantly thinking it was hard enough walking down, it was going to be a bit harder getting back up again. We probably only went down about 1,000 feet into the over 5,000 feet canyon, all the time passing walkers, sweating and panting, glowing with the heat and the effects of the thin air, as they returned to the top of the rim. The heat tends to increase as you descend into the canyon, as the cooling breezes at the top give way to the still and thin air.
Just before our descent, as we readied ourselves, excitement broke out from people on the edge of the rim. A Condor had been sighted, then another appeared,and another, until there were six of these wonderfully majestic huge birds circling within the canyon and overhead. They took turns in landing on a rocky outcrop, not too far from where we were standing. The excitement of seeing the Condors was also shared by the Rangers that were there as well. This is an event that doesn’t happen all that frequently, and to have six of these fantastic creatures was more than anyone could have wished for. To demonstrate how rare this event was, we were talking to some other visitors on the rim, they had been coming to the Canyon for 16 years and had never seen a single Condor, they were very excited at the sight of 6 of these fantastic birds.
The Californian Condor is the largest flying bird in The U.S., with a wingspan of up to 9½ feet (2.8 m) and weighing about 23 pounds (10.4 kilos), it is huge. Condors were almost completely wiped out in the 20thcentury. In 1987 the remaining 22 wild birds were captured and became part of a breeding program at the San Diego Wild Animal Park and the Los Angeles Zoo. In 1991 Condors were released back into the wild and in April 2011 the population of the Condor stood at 394 birds, 181 of which lived in the wild. The bird has been saved from extinction by a program that was introduced by the government, and was the most expensive rare and endangered species program ever undertaken by the U.S. Government.
The Grand Canyon is just that, it is Grand, someone had told me before my visit, to imagine a hole in the earth that was huge, and then to double it. The size of this place is awesome, the colours and the character are always changing as the sun and the clouds drift over it. We have had a fantastic experience and it is well worth the time and effort to see this fantastic “Wonder of the World”
Lance & Barbara