Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Grand Canyon & Vegas - 5 Year Anniversary Trip - Part 1

Back in September, for our 5 year anniversary, Jennifer and I took a little trip out west to the Grand Canyon and Vegas.

(Note that all of the pictures in this post can be enlarged. It would have been a crime to shrink them to normal blog size.)

She had only been to Vegas once and didn't really get a chance to see much, and neither of us had been to the Canyon before.

And while it was REALLY hard to leave the boys, we were excited to have a week with no dependents.

We flew into Vegas and rented a car and headed to the Canyon for the first two nights. The drive wasn't too bad -- right around 4 hours.

We stayed at the Maswik Lodge, which is only a short walk from the rim. Since we had been traveling all day, we didn't explore too much after checking in, but of course we had to see just how big this thing was.

It really is indescribable

We turned in early that night so we could get out hiking early the next morning.

Thanks to the time difference, we were up and ready to go pretty early the next morning, which was nice because that meant the trails weren't too busy. We started out on the South Kaibab trail.

I love how this picture shows how the trail zig-zags against the canyon.
The trail was steep but well-maintained. I wore old running shoes and slipped a few times on the loose dirt, but otherwise it was pretty easy going (going down, that is).

Just under a mile down was an amazing lookout point called "Ooh Aah Point."

It was very appropriately-named.

We saw a bunch of condors there (which is the largest North American land bird, I just read), and that had to have been the quietest place I've ever been. Aside from the feathers flapping in the wind as the birds passed, everything was absolutely perfectly still. No cars. No planes. Not even any bugs!

But it wasn't oppressive like you think it might be. It was absolutely blissful.

This picture shows the true colors; the next picture looks a bit washed out.
Looking back through the pictures it's almost frustrating how you just can't get a scale of how big it really is. Take this picture, for instance:

See the big cliff in the middle of the picture? Along the base of that cliff (just below the shadow of it in the picture) is the trail, and just around the cliff is the Cedar Ridge rest house. We were about a mile into the trail at this point, so Cedar Ridge was only about a half-mile away.

We were roughly where I've circled.
Anyway, there are people down on the trail ahead of us, just under the shadow. Can you see them?

Here's that box zoomed in. You can just barely make them out even then.


We had planned on turning around at Cedar Ridge, but we decided this was a better stopping point:

I really love this picture for some reason, but it's another one of those that's misleading. It was really steep, and there wasn't the canyon wall to "protect" us on one side -- it was literally a few hundred foot drop on each side. And since it wasn't sheltered, it was windy.

Yep, that was enough for us.

Heading back up was a lot harder than we thought it was going to be (yeah, we were cocky going into this). It took us twice as long, and we had to stop to catch our breath every few minutes. (I think the altitude was a big part of that as well.)

We made sure to play off our breaks as though we were just checking out the views. :-)

And even though she didn't have a cute little bump yet, we took the opportunity to take a few baby announcement photos.

After the trail, we grabbed some lunch and wandered around for a while. It was crazy to see elk everywhere up there. We're used to skittish deer here in Kentucky... these elk acted like they owned the place.

After dinner we checked out the Bright Angel Trail, but we didn't too far as a storm rolled in pretty quickly.

So that's it for the first two days of our trip.

I'll be back soon with more pictures from the rest of our Canyon trip and of course, Vegas!


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