29 forum posts
I spent about 10 days in Arizona, visiting places such as the Grand Canyon, Glen Canyon and Lake Powell in Page.
I had hiked the Grand Canyon (just ended up going to Bright Angel Campground and back, but spent a significant time on the South Rim), visited Monument Valley, used Flagstaff as a launching pad and place to come back to as home away from home, and spent time in Page, both at Lake Powell and at the boulder site in the hiking area near Glen Canyon Dam.
May 29 - Departed via Greyhound Bus to Flagstaff, Arizona.
May 30 - Arrived in Flagstaff, AZ. There spent the night for $20 at the hostel Motel DeBeau, located 2 streets away from the Amtrak Train Station & Flagstaff Information Center, and a 12-14 minute walk from the Greyhound Bus Station. The hostel had friendly staff, was very accomodating (free breakfast and free bread all day long when available). They have laundry facilities (around $1.00 from what I remember to use the washing machine, $0.75 to use the drier [I think] and $0.50 for a whole scoop of laundry detergent). They have books and guides available on the Grand Canyon and other Arizona areas of interest in the entrance lounge library. Music plays from morning 'till midnight and it's a young, college-age atmosphere. They have a pool table in a back lounge area where music plays throughout the day. Bars and restaurants are literally across the road, and Route 66 & what might be considered downtown is 2-3 streets away. When you check in, you get two keys - one for your room and one to get into the main building 24 hours a day, where the facilities include a kitchen area (with two separate double-sinks, two microwaves, a toaster, a stove, a kettle, liquid dish soap, wash cloths and some free food), the pool room, the laundry room, a main dining room, and the motel entrance lounge. The Flagstaff Express and Grand Canyon Tour shuttle bus vans depart from the Amtrak Train Station, a 1-2 minute walk from the motel. Many of the guests are either on their way to or back from the Grand Canyon, so finding contacts and people with similar interests is a given.
May 31 - Visited a hikers store called "Peace Surplus" located on Route 66 across from the train station before catching the Flagstaff Express shuttle bus ($26 booked online) to Grand Canyon's South Rim. The staff at Peace Surplus helped me with my backpack's fit (being a newbie) and shoes. I also bought a compass from them. They have just about every kind of camping and hiking gear you could want, and if you can't find what you need/want there, there are plenty of other backpacking/camping stores in town, at least 3 of which are located within a 5 minute walk from them. Spent the night on the South Rim at Camp Mather for $6 (price available to hikers only, i.e. those WITHOUT vehicles).
June 1 - Woke up early and hiked up to the lookout point by El Tovar Hotel - watched the sunrise and took some pictures. Visited the Rangers Station to obtain a backcountry permit. Visited the General Store, located about a 10-minute walk from Mather Campground. They have everything from food, to clothes to camping/hiking equipment. And not the shabby stuff either - they have Primus, MSR, Sea-to-Summit and Smartwool - although their prices aren't exactly bargain basement - everything has to be trucked in, and it's a remote area so some of the prices are higher than usual. But the whole store's basically like a small Wal-mart or HEB - they have pretty much anything that you might want or need, from food to alcohol, to basic tools and gear. I found myself visiting this store many times during my stay at the South Rim.
June 2 - Began the long but beautiful hike down the S. Kaibab trail towards the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. Reaching the "T" overlooking the river, found some brilliant person had removed the sign. It was dark by this time. I was on my own and didn't know whether to go right or left. Took the way visible to me and crossed Colorado River via the old black suspension bridge, passing through lonely carved rock tunnels and finally arriving in Bright Angel Campground around 10:10PM. It was close to a full moon and temperatures were cooler than usual - couldn't have asked for better conditions.
June 3 - Had a good breakfast, packed up my gear and left Bright Angel Campground at around 11:00AM. Taking the Silver Suspension Bridge this time, I crossed back over the Colorado River and headed up the famous Bright Angel Trail towards the South Rim again. Took quite a few pictures. My thermometer read around 107ºF in the sun around 1:00PM, but luckily I had brought my Chrome Dome umbrella which made it feel like 80ºF when the wind blew. Spent about 5 hours at Indian Campground. Made it back to the South Rim around 11:10PM. Got a ride to Camp Mather. Met a Korean couple a few campsites away from where I was pitched. The husband constrained me to eat with them. Good old Korean hospitality! They offered me free steak, rum and beer. Finally was able to pull away from them around 12:30PM (the man was pretty drunk, really liked me and would not let me leave!). Went to sleep and didn't come out of my tent until at least 11:00AM. I was quite sore from the hike. I had made the mistake of listening to everybody's advice about taking 4 liters + of water. I took 5 + liters on my way down. There was water available at various stops the whole way down. I took way too much, as well as too much gear and too much food. My water weight alone I estimate at 12+ lbs. My pack probably weighed around 50lbs. When I got to the site to pitch my tent I found that most people just had full-enclosure bivy bags. And I had my 2-man tent, full-length mattress, full length sleeping bag as well as extra food and clothes - way too much stuff, but it was a learning experience.
June 4 - Took the free bus from the Tourist Information Center to visit the small town of Tusyon (NOT Tucson!), located about 3 miles South of the Rim. There I found a steak restaurant where I ate a full plate of BBQ ribs, and shortly thereafter headed over to the IMAX theatre where I watched a screening of the famous Grand Canyon for about $14. Returned to the South Rim for free taking one of the same buses I had come in on using the hand stamp I had received from the bus driver (make sure you ask for one because they don't always offer). Visited Yavapai point later on which overlooks the South Kaibab Trail which I had hiked down 2 days earlier. Took an evening walk in and around Mather campground. Lots of RV campers, families and children in Mather - not many true hikers that I could see. The clouds passed slowly by amidst the moonlit sky. Older folks played games in their campers as children got ready for bed. Small tents glowed from modern lighting like fireflies in the dark. It was a warm, cozy scene. My heart glowed as I passed through it.
June 5 - Visited Tusyon again. Booked a shuttle bus (van) back to Flagstaff online at an Internet cafè (only $20 booked online for the return trip) there. Tusyon is also home of another campground, but is mostly for RV from what I could tell. Was able to visit Yavapai point again later on, and see some of the Kaibab trail I had hiked down. Took some pictures.
June 6 - Spent the night in Flagstaff at Motel DeBeau again. Reserved a rental car for the following day to cruise around with.
June 7 - Picked up rental car - got a compact PT Cruiser! Whew-hew! $99 for 3 days/3nights with my Sam's Club Membership...not bad. Headed north, first to Cameron. Picked up 3 day/3night Navajo backcountry permit. Arrived in Monument Valley later that evening. Was refused backcountry camping permission despite the official Navajo permit I had picked up in Cameron. Headed over to Camp Goulding to sleep for the night. Did some bouldering and took some pictures. Met up with some people there. We talked until dark. Went to bed early. Woke up at around 2:30AM. The night was lit by a full moon partially veiled by silky clouds, rock walls surrounding me on all sides. I strapped my headlamp on and went free climbing. I made it back into bed around 5:00AM.
June 8 - Packed up early and headed out before the sun illuminated the roads. Instead of going back to Flagstaff immediately, I decided to head for Page - home of Lake Powell and Glen Canyon Dam. Before reaching the lake, I decided to take a hiking trail and found some large boulder/rocks to scale. This is an area probably a 1/4 mile from the Glen Canyon Dam Bridge. It is clearly marked with signs indicating it is a hiking area. It is free, and I highly recommend it if you're into bouldering. Officially the boulders are off the path on the way to what is known as the "Hanging Gardens", which I am told are a bit of a dissapointment. But I never made it that far. I didn't need to. The boulders sufficed for me. I was able to spend a lot of time alone up there. Judging from the lack of trash (I only remember seeing a couple of shards of broken glass the whole time I was up there) I'd say the top doesn't get frequented much. From the top you can see both Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon Dam. It's quite an awesome view. I took some pictures while I was up there. I didn't want to leave but legally I wasn't allowed to camp out there ("No Camping"), so I ended up paying my money and camping out down at Lake Powell, on the beach at the Lone Rock campsite ($26 for one night), on the Utah side of the state border. Lone Rock is located approximately 8 miles from the hikers site on the other side of the Glen Canyon Dam.
June 9 - Had a good meal at the "Dam Bar and Grill" in Page. Returned to the boulder site in the hiking area after lunch and spent a good portion of the remaining day there. I started heading back for Flagstaff probably around 5:45PM, and began the lonely 2-3 hour drive through the desert, passing various Navajo Indian sales kiosks along the way. I ate at a native American Indian-run diner on the way back. I would not recommend it nor any of the Native American Indian-run facilities in that Arizona/Utah area - I found the servers (all women [not that that's a problem - but where were all the men?]) to be officious, unfriendly, and unaccomodating. I arrived back at Motel DeBeau in Flagstaff and there spent the night again.
June 10 - Returned the car. Walked the city. Got some film developed. Watched a movie. Spent time downtown, in the city and in the park. Departed around 9:00PM on the Greyhound. Time to go back to Texas!
Flagstaff rocks as a launching pad for visiting the Grand Canyon. Interesting town - friendly people. Many places to find high quality backpacking gear and get good food before you go.
Don't go to the Monument Valley area in Southern Utah unless you're willing to pay money for EVERYTHING, and put up with some pretty unaccomodating, inflexible people. Otherwise, the rocks are pretty cool - good climbing - and the views not bad at all.
Page rocks! Small township with stores & restaurants located above (but SouthWest? of) Lake Powell, which provides places to swim, boat, RV and campout. Glen Canyon Dam, located west of the lake is worth a look. The desert hiking area 1/4 mile south of there promises some great bouldering opportunities and the chance to getaway from civilized life for a while without much effort.