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Arizona USA

Bright Angel Trail, South Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon South Rim - Bright Angel Trail

Bright Angel Trail, South Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona

The Bright Angel Trail begins on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon at an elevation of 6860′ and descends to the Colorado River in the Canyon bottom. I only had time to hike down to the Indian Garden at an elevation of 3800′ so this blog entry contains images of my travels over that 3060′ drop in elevation and the harder return to the top. It is a well traveled trail with many switchbacks (zigzags) down the canyon walls and is shared by humans and mules. I’ve marked the normal stopping points where a decision has to be made to go on or start the long trek back to the top. I chose to go to the Indian Garden. Round trip took me almost exactly 6 hours and my camera equipment got very heavy by the time I got back to the rim. From what I could find out, the normal pace would take about 7 hours so I guess I was moving along quite quickly despite stopping to take a few hundred shots along the way.

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Arizona USA

Grand Canyon, South Rim

Grand Canyon South Rim

Grand Canyon, South Rim

My first time to the Grand Canyon and, like everyone has said many times before me, it takes your breath away. Very hard to imagine the size and scope of the canyon without some sort of reference point. Humans aren’t large enough to provide any kind of perspective. As individuals descend down into the canyon along a trail, like the Bright Angel Trail, they soon become mere spots and then soon after they disappear altogether into the vast depths of the canyon. Condors, extremely large birds that they are, could easily be mistaken for crows, starlings or even black birds, when viewed against the vastness of the Grand Canyon.

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Arizona USA

Arizona Route 180, Arizona, USA

Arizona Route 180, Arizona, USA – Flagstaff, Arizona to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon

Just NE Flagstaff on our way to the Grand Canyon, we passed by a horse pasture that  also served as home to a few hundred prairie dogs.  As soon as I stopped to photograph a few, they scurried to their burrows immediately and thus began a period of waiting and watching. Eventually I found one of these little critters willing to stand up and take a bow. It’s partner continued the eyeball just over the rim of the hole routine.

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Arizona USA

Sedona, Arizona

Oak Creek Canyon, Sedona, Arizona

Sedona, Arizona

Seen Better Days

Traveling south from Flagstaff, Arizona, we first entered the Oak Creek Canyon and followed the Oak Creek through the Ponderosa Pine forests. As we dropped in elevation from Flagstaff (elevation 7,000 feet) to Sedona (elevation 4,400 feet), we left the snow behind and entered into a valley where the day time temperatures reached about 80F and shorts replaced winter clothing, all in a distance of less than fifty miles.

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Arizona USA

Along Arizona Route 93

Along Arizona Route 93

After visiting the Hoover Dam, we continued our journey along Route 93 to Kingman where we then headed East along Interstate 40 to Flagstaff, Arizona. The car rental folks had run out of my requested subcompact size of car when I arrived and provided me with a no-charge upgrade to a 4-wheel drive SUV. I was therefore almost obliged to drive off the road at least once or twice along the highway. Couldn’t go into really nasty roads though. Although the SUV was 4-wheel drive, they had equipped it with highway tires rather than a nice set of off-road lugs so I only went along the mining roads until the bed of loose skree like gravel got two steep for my comfort. Had fun though!

We were likely a week or two ahead of the really energetic blooming season for the desert wildflowers but the cacti were beginning to dot the landscape with their pink blossoms.

Other colorful flowers were beginning to dot the landscape but not yet profusely.

As I was driving along the mining roads, I would sometime catch a glimpse of movement out of the corner of my eye (the other eye was always on the road!!!). I would then stop the vehicle and the search would begin for these little lizards (Zebra-Tailed lizard – Callisaurus draconoides).

I found the geological outcroppings along the highway to be very interesting. Most of the time we didn’t have much other traffic on the road but when we arrived at one of the mining side roads shortly after 5PM, I found myself stuck in a traffic jam.

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Arizona Nevada USA

Hoover Dam, Nevada, USA

Hoover Dam, Nevada, USA Today we were heading toward the South Rim of the Grand Canyon on a route that took us past the Hoover Dam. As we came in sight of lake Mead, a Turkey Vulture circled overhead and native flowers along the roadside were beginning to burst into bloom.

Mead is the reservoir which formed behind Hoover Dam and provides many water-based recreational opportunities for the residents of Las Vegas, Boulder City and surrounding communities. Getting to Hoover Dam took a bit longer than anticipated. A new multi-lane bridge is being constructed to bridge the span over the canyon downstream from the Hoover Dam. The two ends to the edges of the canyon were waiting to be connected. Given the height above the canyon, I’m not sure how the will be connecting the two ends but I’m sure that if I ever go over the finished bridge, I expect that I wouldn’t want to look down! Need to fill in the space between the opposing ends of the new bridge construction before real traffic can be diverted from crossing the dam. See my close-up of the suspended cage being used for transporting workers and equipment across the open space. Volunteers anyone. The suspended cage being used in the construction of the new bridge over the Colorado River downstream from the Hoover Dam. A new parking lot and more defined infrastructure is ready to ahndle any tourist influx. The water in the Mead Lake reservoir is lower this year than usual. Normal level would be about the mid-point on the white area of the side walls of the reservoir. Hard to fathom the size of all of this but the little dot nestled in the cove about the centre of the picture is a reasonably large tour boat pictured in next photo. Water intake towers looking toward the Arizona side of the Hoover Dam from the Nevada side of the dam. Water intake towers looking toward the Nevada side of the Hoover Dam from the Arizona side of the dam. A series photos looking downstream from the Hoover Dam.  My wide angle Nikkor 12-24mm or 10.5 fisheye were used for these photos. New visitor center and multilevel parking lot can be seen nestled into to rock of the canyon walls. One end of the new bridge construction can be seen to the left of the image. Like many other tourists, we took the inside tour down in the depths of the dam. An interesting tour.


After the tour, we went up on the observation level of the tourist center and I snapped a few more fish-eye photos from that vantage point. Using a normal wide angle lens. photographer Leia, seen here with a friend, was having a tough time getting a good perspective of the overall size of the Hoover Dam. I offered my 10.5 mm and 12-24mm lens and she was super happy and quickly took shots from a wide variety of angles. I, took, enjoyed using my fish-eye to get a completely different perspective.

Antelope Ground Squirrel (Amnospermophilus leucurus)