The Grand Canyon: Hitomi and I were — underwhelmed. Sure we both accepted that it was a very large and impressive hole, but in terms of aesthetics, Hitomi found it "dirty." (Later: "dirty and hot".) To be honest, I would have been more impressed had Hitomi been enthusiastic, and maybe had the afternoon and evening not been so hazy, and if we had a decent sunset, maybe the lighting would have encouraged her to photograph. No, she didn't feel interested in photographing anything the first night.
I admit, having seen pictures of the Grand Canyon, I was not terribly impressed. I was more excited from what people had said, and had my heart been open to it, I would have felt it more enthusiastic. Maybe what we're used to seeing is snow and water?
Perhaps from the rim's perspective it was a dirty hole, but within the canyon we'd take more pictures?
We spent the night in a lodge, which sort of resembled a series of apartment buildings more than a hotel. A good night's sleep here would prepare us for an early morning, but a fairly short hike, from Grandview to the Horseshoe Mesa.
The trail to Horseshoe Mesa was short and steep, and with the amount of water I took, the pack weight was difficult for my balance. The good news, though, it wasn't otherwise strenuous, and did three miles in three hours. Hitomi and I set up our camp before the heat of the day. And then it got hot! There was something about the heat and the harsh sunlight that caused me and Hitomi to continuously sweat. Our tent provided some shade, but barely enough ventilation (with the door and windows open) to keep ourselves cool. I laid on top of my down sleeping bag, which was soft and comfortable, but unfortunately got quite sweaty. I sure appreciated the large amount water we brought.
After I read and napped for about 4-5 hours, I got restless and wandered near the edge of the canyon on the north edge of Horseshoe Mesa. It was relatively flat and offered a much more impressive view of the canyon than from camp. (These are the photos at the end here.)
Back at camp: We brought about two gallons of water, but still I was a little concerned about our water situation, which given the copious quantity of water drunk so far, suggested we get some more just in case. And given the amount of cooked food we planned to prepare, it also seemed prudent. Many places in the Grand Canyon have no water, but luckily there were two "nearby" sources available. Though the closest source actually was 45 minutes away: A very steep 500 foot descent and half mile walk to so-called Miner's Springs. We walked 1:30 to obtain a gallon of water!
It's called Miner's Spring because it was used by miners on Horseshoe Mesa 100 years ago. The mine was for extracting copper, but given the amount of labor to operate in this remote site, was soon abandoned when the price of copper collapsed a few years later. Speaking of copper mines, I recall a few years ago the Kennecott Copper Corporation mines near Wrangell, Alaska which Hitomi and I visited. Both these mines operated around the same time, though the Kennecott mines operated about 30 years longer.
In the morning, we packed up and headed out. It took us 2:30, about :30 less time to hike out than hike in! This was because with packs, it is easier to balance when walking steeply uphill than downhill.
We cleaned up and had lunch at El Tovar, the fancy Grand Canyon lodge built by the railroad company. The food was actually quite good and reasonably priced, and considering the usual concessionaire restaurants in National Parks, exceptional. Many of the servers were from foreign countries, perhaps here on a working holiday. They seemed a little disorganized, but friendly in any case.
It was getting time to go. We took the train to the backcountry information center and I bought a book called Over The Edge: Death In Grand Canyon, which, in addition to the stories of numerous hikers dying due to heat stroke or falling, includes stories on murders, plane crashes, and people in slot canyons killed by floods. This would be my reading on the plane back to Seattle.