America in Six Days

A long flight from Auckland, New Zealand to Los Angeles, we left on the Sunday afternoon and after a twelve hour flight arrived In America some two hours before we had left New Zealand. A couple of days arranging internal flights then early in the morning off to Las Vegas, an hours wait then on to the Grand Canyon.

This flight was by Scenic Airways or some such, in a small propeller driven plane. We flew over Lake Mead, giving sight of the Hoover Dam, then across scrub and desert to the canyon. The flight continued over and along the canyon, although the air was hazy, the majesty of the scenery was still apparent. We landed at Grand Canyon village and although nobody had told us their was an hours time difference we just had time to take an hours bus tour around some of the features of the rim. We watched a whole palette of colour changes as the sun set. The next morning an early breakfast and we made to set off down the canyon. We were somewhat concerned that there were notices all over the place warning of the need of at least two pints of water per person, I had left my bottle in Los Angeles and we couldn’t buy any water or indeed any food. That is until later in the day.

We set off. The wide track descended gently, we left in the early cool of a November morning this being replaced by the gentle warmth of this engorged
desert. As we descended past the various geological strata the path became somewhat steeper and began a series of long zigzag lengths. We passed two shelters both with the legend NO WATER. Past a urine soaked mules toilet, and on to the Indian Gardens, an oasis with accommodation, log huts, toilets and water. We were now well over half way down the canyon and on a plateau; this stretched to Plateau Point.

At this point I wanted to turn back as we were on a fairly tight schedule our flight was at 5 pm. Chris pooh poohed the Idea and continued towards the point, (followed with misgivings. We were now traversing a desert area and it was hot. When we reached the point we looked down 1500 ft. at the Colorado river, we spent a while taking photos: now it was definitely time to return.

We made good time, despite my having at one point, left my camera some 500 ft. below and having to retrieve it. As we reached the rim we found that we had covered twelve miles and we had descended and ascended some 3000 ft.
The Bright Angel Track that we had ‘trekked’ is used by the mules that take tourists to the bottom of the canyon and you need to book a year in advance, at least.

On our travels, back to Las Vegas, where we had to spend the night, then next morning on to San Francisco. A ride on one of the trams that go up and down those steep switch backs and late dinner at Fisherman’s Wharf. A very early start next morning, 6 am at the bus station, a short trip to the rail station, Amtrak to Merced, back on the bus and away to Yosemite National Park. The weather was again good to us and the scenery was superb. There was plenty of time to observe El Capitan and the Half Dome, and to walk amongst the conifers of the valley, but not enough for Chris to find her bouldering area. She did manage to find a small face for twenty minutes scrambling though. All too soon we had to leave back to San Francisco, and the next day home. A memorable holiday!

Dick Wade.

N.B. Although you can book all your flights to the Grand Canyon from this country we found that you cannot forward book accommodation at the Grand Canyon from here. This you have to do once you are in America, and then
you are reliant on cancellations. The Fred Harvey company has the GC sewn up tight.

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