August 8th 2014 – Day 7, Grand Canyon mule ride & Bright Angel trail
Oh, how I have been looking forward to this! I really wanted to ride a horse but there aren’t many in the Grand Canyon. Mules are more suited, temperamentally and physically, to the landscape. They can see their hind legs for starters, making them better for climbing up and down the trails. They are more docile and predictable. When they get spooked and you fall off them they don’t run away, they just stay nearby, eating whatever comes their way. And they are stronger than horses, apparently.
So, awake at 6 I was, everyone else at 7. We were there just before 8, and got on a bus with 13 others. We were given our ‘induction’ on how to ride a mule (engage core muscles, keep back straight) then told some of their history by a woman with the coolest hat ever (can’t see from photo, but it had feathers around it)
I hadn’t been on a horse for 20 years, Daniel had never been on one (mules = male donkey + female horses, they do look just like horses, same size, but with bigger ears, and sterile), so we got put at the front of our group of nine people. Daniel was riding just after the guide and he just talked to him all the way, lucky Daniel!
The tour took 2 hours and it was already pretty hot. We were given these to put water on and as souvenirs and told to drink at every stop. This resulted in wanting to pee halfway through. A guy had to get off his white horse for a pit stop.
Afternoon: down Bright Angel trail until the second tunnel. People coming up seemed exhausted so we stuck to plan A and didn’t go down any further, also Daniel didn’t come so we had a time to come back for. In the end going up was ok, especially once you get into the marching zone, but we only walked about 1.5km up. Here’s the walk…
Learned about Kolb brothers on their ‘Studio’ at the end of trail and bought book with their journals. They were first people to photograph grand canyon in 1910s. Those must have been amazing times to live in!!!!
Had cocktails and Nachos at El Tovar.
Now going to watch sunset at Hopi point. I love this place! We joked with waitress, when she asked if it was our first time, that the Grand Canyon is ok for a whole on the ground. Natural Wonder indeed! What a privilege to be here.
At 17:30 we took Red Route to Maricopa point, then walked back to Hopi Point to watch the sunset, all sunset photos are here. Lots of people watching it, but we were in a quiet spot.
When the sun went down we walked back. First 10 minutes was a debate between bus and walking. I wanted to walk along rim trail, we had no torches, but the super moon was so bright that no torches were needed. This also makes it hard to see stars.
My shins are hurting less today!
And funny thing, my hair loves dry weather, it feels so silky, in a way it never does in humid London!