10 August 2010
Across the Kaibab Plateau
While my daughter is here, we are taking advantage of my days off to see some of the southwest. Our first stop on this journey was at Navaho Bridge across the red Colorado River. Our timing was perfect as we were also able to watch two California Condors soaring the air currents at the canyon's edge!
Lee's Ferry is the main site for launching river rafts on the Colorado River. It was pretty quiet while we were there so we just enjoyed the views of the quiet river and the myriad colors of the landscape!
A little further down the river, where the Paria River joins the Colorado, the influx of red sediment made quite a contrast with the deep blue greens of the water. Navaho Bridge is actually downriver from this site, so the red color we saw there was created almost entirely from Paria River sediment.
One of the little delights we saw were hundreds of these tiny red spotted frogs as well as little brown toads. Most of them were no more than an inch long, some only 3/8" long! I've never seen so many little frogs and toads in one area. Everywhere we looked they were hopping around, moving from clump to clump of grass, hiding under rocks and generally trying to get away from us. They were hard to photograph as they moved so quickly!
At the little settlement of Cliff Dwelling, enormous boulders perch on columns of rock. Jessie and I had fun taking pictures of her "lifting" the rocks!
The Vermillion Cliffs border the north side of House Rock Valley from Lee's Ferry to the Kaibab Plateau. As so often happens in northern Arizona, the monsoon rains of late July and August have turned the landscape green. It's an expansive view that as my daughter says, "Makes one feel insignificant."
As we drove down the highway toward the north rim of the Grand Canyon, we were stunned at the extent of devastation from the fires in 2006. For 7 miles, the forest is nothing but barren spires of fire scarred trees. There is hope though. The shrubby growth in the foreground is composed primarily of small aspens, shoots from the underground root system that survived the fires. In a few years, there will be massive aspen groves along this road! It's a good reminder that forests, like the rest of us, are always in progress, that things continuously change and that even devastation of this magnitude can be overcome.
Before the fire, the woods looked like this. Lush pines of several varieties and mature aspen trees. So lovely! I find it reassuring that in time, even the fire ravaged areas will look like this once again.
The view from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is spectacular. I must say that I think it is more beautiful than from the south side. On the horizon, you can see the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff well over 70 miles away.
We spent a little bit of time sitting on the patio at the Grand Canyon Lodge enjoying the view. What a lovely spot! I'd love to be able to spend a few days here just sitting and absorbing the view.
A short walk along the rim to Bright Angel Point revealed beauties such as these interesting blossoms. I am fascinated by the feathers they produce!
On the drive back, we took time to enjoy the broad meadows and wildflowers.
This aspen grove acts as a nursery for young fir and spruce trees. How I would have loved to sit there for hours, listening to the birds and enjoying the dappled light. Such a serene place.
Eventually we made our way off the Kaibab plateau and headed down the road to Kanab, Utah. The setting sun behind the clouds was magnificent. A perfect way to end a lovely day!