Antelope to Grand Canyon
It was a bit cloudy early, so I caught up on my account, among other things, then revisited a few places around Page, and went to the Glen Canyon Dam Visitor's Center. By then it was time to head over to Chief Tsosie's Antelope Canyon Tour.
I'd reserved a spot on one of the photo tours, which gets you more time in the canyon. Our group was roughly a dozen people, and our guide was Milo. He did an excellent job both of moving around to spots where the sunbeams where shining in, and also of crowd management (together with all of the other guides). Crowd management is key here as the place resembles Grand Central Station. There are people everywhere, and they're going somewhere, even if it's just to the other end of the canyon.
In spite of the crowds, Upper Antelope Canyon is a fantastic place. It's a very narrow and twisty slot canyon with a level sandy bottom. I couldn't believe how easy it is to get amazing photos. It's fairly dark in the canyon, and very slow shutter speeds are needed for best results, but it really amounts to pointing the camera somewhere and then taking a picture. You can use the sunbeams to make the photo more interesting, and Milo had a big scoop he used (thick dustpan) to throw sand and dust into the beam. Anything in the beam gets massively overexposed and just looks white. When the beam is narrow, it comes out as a white ray cutting through the photo and spilling out on the floor. Anyway, it was a lot of fun.
They drove us back to Page, and I headed off toward the Grand Canyon. My next stop was the Navajo Bridges across Marble Canyon (Marble is the Colorado canyon between Glen and Grand). There's a old Navajo bridge that now serves as a pedestrian bridge, and a new Navajo bridge for the road. When it was constructed, I think in the 20's, the old Navajo bridge was the only bridge across the Colorado for 600 miles. It replaced the ferry service at Lee's Ferry.
You then drive for sometime along the Vermilion Cliffs, part of which is in the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument. I headed up into the monument on House Rock Road to the Condor viewing area. The have a holding pen at the top of the cliff where they prepare condors for release. Some previously released condors where hanging out on top of it, another was perched on the cliff, and I spotted one soaring above the cliff. These guys are not ABA-countable, but I do include them on the triplist. There were also some White-throated Swifts flying low near the viewing area. It was a treat to see them at eye level.
That was my last stop before Grand Canyon. I had forgotten how there are many meadows along the road on the drive between Jacob Lake and the North Rim. I arrived at the lodge around 4:30. As soon as I got checked in and put my stuff away I realized I was really happy to be here! I guess I just can't resist these high-elevation (8200') environments and the brisk mountain air (45° when I arrived).
I walked along the Bridle Path, looking at the canyon, and made my way to Bright Angel Point. What a view! A bit later, I drove over to Point Imperial, then returned to the lodge area for the last of sunset. As it got dark, they lit a fire in the big fireplace in the outside viewing area (they also had one going in the sunroom). I ended the day with a late dinner at the lodge.
So far, I have found 142 bird species and 13 mammal species during the trip.
Grand Canyon Lodge, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ