After backpacking to the river and back, we stayed at Mather Campground in the park a little longer to regroup and see the last few sights we had yet to see. An entire village resides in the park, complete with grocery store and a branch of the state library, so we didn’t need to leave the park to grab a couple days worth of supplies (though there is a bit of a premium on the convenience).

Part of the rangers’ life on the rim is communicating with rangers in the canyon. There is limited line-of-sight for the signal from their radios to reach from in the canyon to the rim. Ranger Mike told us that this tower is a reflector for radio communications from Phantom Ranch.

Part of the rangers’ life on the rim is communicating with their colleagues in the canyon. There is limited line-of-sight for the signal from their radios to reach from in the canyon to the rim. Ranger Mike told us that this tower is a reflector for radio communications from Phantom Ranch.

Prior to our visit to the backcountry permitting office, I had been disappointed about the timing of our trip: starting in Florida in the heat of the summer to drive north to Maine for our amazing 100 Mile Wilderness hike, then trying to outrun winter back south again. We were alway rushing to get to the next place and experiencing much more extreme (hot and cold) weather than we had anticipated for the mobile life. But the limitations to the backcountry permit and the crowds that descended on the park by the time we exited the canyon from our hike made me really appreciate the off-season camping we have been doing. Most of the campgrounds we’ve arrived at were mostly if not completely unoccupied; we’ve had solitude and never had to worry about availability. The experiences we’ve had are worth a little off-season weather.

Wildlife abounds in the Grand Canyon National Park, and they do not show particular fear of humans. A group of elk range over the campground, munching on trees and resting in the shade among the campsites. Ground squirrels dig burrows beside the road. Ravens will help themselves to any food left unattended, and for the unwary camper who leaves their supplies out while they are away, they will destroy a campsite. Despite the ample warning signs to keep food locked up in vehicles, some don’t get the message and we saw one campsite with packaging and marshmallows torn up and scattered all over. In the evening deer come out to browse and bunnies hop around in search of food.

Elk resting in the day next to our campsite. We didn’t see a single elk with antlers - either the males are more secretive than the females, or they have not grown their antlers yet.

Elk resting next to our campsite. We didn’t see a single elk with antlers – either the males are more secretive than the females, or they have not grown their antlers yet.

Closeup of an elk.

Closeup of an elk.

Deer near the campground; they are certainly sporting impressive antlers.

Deer near the campground; they are certainly sporting impressive antlers.

Adorable bunnies are always a happy sight.

Adorable bunnies are always a happy (or should I say “hoppy”?) sight.

On our final evening in the park we rode the free shuttle down Hermit’s Road to watch the sunset over the canyon. As the sky displayed its nightly rainbow of colors, we had occasion to appreciate the opportunity we have to explore the country, visiting these spectacular and beautiful places and glimpsing the animals that inhabit them.

Colors at sunset make the canyon even more beautiful.

Colors at sunset make the canyon even more beautiful.

We say our goodbyes to this special place as the sun sets in the background over the Colorado River.

We say our goodbyes to this special place as the sun sets in the background over the Colorado River.

 

March 10-11, 2014

5 Thoughts on “Grand Canyon Part 4: Life on the Rim

  1. I have so enjoyed these last 2 posts. The canyon is so much more than I gave thought to. I loved how that squirrel had its head cocked and it really was cute! And the hummingbird moth thingy – other worldly. 2 questions: how did you get that photo of yourselves at the “leaning tower”? It was so much bigger than the other photo led one to believe so the camera must have been far away. How does a tent with a mesh top protect one from the elements and secure privacy????
    Love you both!
    Rita

    • Heidi on April 29, 2014 at 9:15 am said:

      John took the “leaning tower” picture by setting the camera on a rock and turning on the timer. Or maybe we even had a tripod – he has a really small tripod that sometimes we have with us.

      The tent has a rainfly that we put on when we need protection from elements or privacy. Since the chance of rain in the desert is pretty much zero and we are pretty far (50 feet to many miles) from the nearest fellow campers, we’ve been leaving it off a lot so we can see the stars. It has low nylon sides to provide protection from the wind.

  2. OK. Being that the stone tower was so far from where the camera had to be, how long did John have to set the timer for and then when he reached you at the tower how did you know when the camera was going to take the photo? It’s sounds like Mission Impossible to me.

    • John on May 8, 2014 at 2:15 pm said:

      There are two factors at play to get this shot:

      1) a custom timer function on the camera that allows me to set the time until the shutter closes, and how many pictures it will take. For this picture I used the max of both settings. 30 Seconds until pictures start to snap. I set it for the max of 10 pictures with about one second in between shots.

      2) Fast legs! I ran, as safely as possible, down to the base of the rock. There’s a chance that the timer started taking pictures before I got there and I just deleted the first few.

      We use this same custom timer for our superman/woman photos. Shhhh, don’t tell anyone, people think we are in perfect form with just one shot. 🙂 We usually do this two or three times, so a total of 20-30 pictures, then I choose the best one or two.

      Of the pictures we take I delete close to half, then of those we choose a very small subset to post. For the Grand Canyon I’m guessing I took about 1000-1500 photos over the two weeks or so we where there. I don’t have access to the pictures now, they’re on Heidi’s computer, but I’d guess I kept about two to three hundred of them.

      Once I make the first pass of all the photos we sit together and choose the ones we want to post on each blog post. It’s quite the process of just sorting and selecting, then Heidi works her magic and writes the post. I then go through and review/edit them, she makes the final pass and makes edits and changes, and finally the post is scheduled to be posted. 🙂

      Sorry for the long reply, but I thought you might be interested in the details. 🙂

  3. Rita on May 8, 2014 at 5:08 pm said:

    I am absolutely interested in all these details. I used to take a lot of pictures myself with my Nikon F2. Now I have the new Nikon but it’s going to be too heavy to take it to Ireland and England. I only have a carry-on with the removable daypack. The picture looked like it was taken from so far away John I could not imagine how you could got from the camera to the pose in that short a time. When Ramon and I went to Morocco and Spain we took hundreds of pictures also. But my god that was a lot of pictures you took! If we ever get together again in New York I’ll show you mine if you show us yours

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