6/29/05
Well, we drove longer than we thought we would last night.  We went through
the Kaibab National Forest--at night.  We saw an elk.  I had never seen an elk
before.  He was huge, with antlers about three feet tall.  I thanked him, and the
other elk and deer we saw on the side of the road for kindly staying on the side
of the road.  We ended up at the Grand Canyon around 9:30PM.  All camping
sites were supposedly full, so we camped outside the park.  Although it was a
pain to have to park one night outside the park, it was worth it because as we
were backing in, four huge elk walked right in front of the truck to graze.  They
were obviously used to humans and seemed very tame.  I warned Chelsea to
not go close to them, I mean really, they are four times her size.  But she paid
me no mind and went to take their picture.  The first picture she took was from
a ways back, just in case the flash scared them, and they charged her.  (My
idea, really, they were huge!)  But they didn't seem to mind, so she got closer.  
She was only 4 feet away from them.  It was a really cool experience.  I
wanted to take a picture, but I was busy helping Richard back into the space.  
(Well, that's my excuse anyway.)  Anyway, we didn't unhook the rig from the
truck last night, so all we had to do was get out of bed and into the truck to
drive into the park this morning.  On our way in, we stopped at one of the
lookout points and were awed by the grandness of the Grand Canyon.  
Seriously, I was very impressed.
We got the RV all set up, and headed out to hike down into the canyon.  Our
plan was to hike the South Kaibab Trail today, and the Bright Angel Trail
tomorrow.  We got to the trailhead at 11:00.  All the printed info, and even the
ranger we talked to was very clear about planning the hike, and allowing twice
as much time to walk up as to walk down.  We planned to turn around no later
than 2:00 PM, meaning we could possibly have a 9 hour hike if we were that
adventurous and/or slow.  The trailhead is at 7260 feet elevation.  Even though
we stopped many times to take pictures, we still arrived at Cedar Ridge,
elevation 6120, a respectable hour and ten minutes later.
This is the view as we
were hiking down.  It
was Breathtaking.  
(Of course it wasn't
the view that was
taking our breath on
the way up.)
<-------
Chelsea and Richard
stopped and posed on
the way down.  Can
you see them?  They're
really in there, right in
the middle.

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Cedar Ridge is a 1.5 mile hike from the top.  Even though it was only 12:10,
almost two hours before our decided upon turnaround time, a ranger halfway
down had recommended we not go beyond Cedar Ridge.  I don't know if this
spooked Chelsea, or if she was worn out, or more likely, both, but she decided to
stay at Cedar Ridge while Richard and I sped down the next 1.5 miles to
Skeleton Point, elevation 5220.  From Skeleton Point we could see the Colorado
River, and Phantom Ranch which is where the hikers stay who go all the way
down, since it is not recommended to go down and back up in one day.  We
passed a family who was doing just that.  For some reason, they had gone all the
way down, and were now heading up, without any water.  They were asking
other hikers for water, and had asked a faster hiker to send a ranger down with
water.  Crazy!
Anyway, we got down to Skeleton Point at 1:15 and immediately turned
around so Chelsea wouldn't have to worry about us.  We got back up to Cedar
Ridge in the same amount of time it took us to climb down, but we were worn
out.  Also factor in that the thermometer on the outhouse wall, right under the
sign that said there was no drinking water available, showed a mere 115
degrees.  We rested for a while, then all three of us headed up slowly, rationing
our last bottle of water.  Chelsea was worn out but she was a real trooper.  
The only time she asked, "are we there yet?" we actually were almost there.  
Here is what we looked like climbing up:
We got back to the top at 4:10, there goes the "double your time to get back up"
theory.  I think Chelsea was impressed that her Grandpa is in better shape than
she and I, but of course, I'm used to him running circles around me.  However,
even though he is in better shape, his legs are sore, and Chelsea's knees are sore.
 So after this somewhat long adventure, there has been a mutiny, and it appears
that if I want to hike the Bright Angle Trail, I will be doing it alone.  I'm working
on them to do Rim Trail tomorrow, no elevation change, but 7.7 miles long.  
Chelsea is working on us to go shopping in the gift shops all day.  We'll see what
happens.  Tonight we've set out the chairs and are going to watch the stars.  
They are so amazing here.  Last night as we were driving I said, "that helicopter
has been hovering there for a while, I wonder what he is doing."  Richard
informed me that that was a planet with a greenish, twinkling star next to it.  
Seriously, without all the lights from the city, these stars are so fabulous, I will
try to take a picture of them for you.