Monday, May 21, 2007

On the road again (Grand Canyon)

After getting Minnie back from the mechanic, we headed for the national park. The first test was getting Minnie up the dreaded Nine Mile Hill on the west side of Albuquerque. She made it up like a champ but we pulled over to let her cool down a bit before driving through the desert.

Slowly the scenery changed from desert to forest and the sun set behind the canyon as we neared the park. The stars were emerging as we set up camp at the Kaibab National Forest just south of the Grand Canyon. This was the first night we would finally get to test the ultralight tent we put together from tarps, bug net, ground cloth, stakes and strings purchased from R.E.I. After setting the tent up, it look sturdy enough but would it stand the entire night? It sure did, and we were surprisingly warmer than if had been in our old tent.

At sunrise, we entered the national park ground and made reservation for the night in Mather Campground. Then, we were off to get our first glimpse of the Grand Canyon. It was a jaw-dropping sight. The canyon spread before us as far as we could see and the 4,000 foot walls contained layers of history. This was a great way for us to begin our descent into the canyon. We hiked 1,000 feet down the canyon on the South Kaibab trail on a gorgeous partly cloudy and cool day. Each time we rounded a bend, we had to stop to take in the incredible, ever changing landscape.

The National Park System epitomizes environment conservation. Aside from its most important objective of preserving the land, they also have one of the few recycling centers in their area and use solar panels to power the street light and methane-powered buses. Grand Canyon also has buses that shuttle visitors around the Canyon to decrease congestion and pollution.

At the moment, we are in Las Vegas preparing for a visit with a Las Vegas-based eco-tour company and also our track through the Mojave Desert tonight. Wish Minnie all the best luck and more later.

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