Suffice to say, we now have more photos of rock than you could ever imagine. The views at the top of the Cedar Mesa – dropping 2000ft and across to Monument Valley made for a stunning (if sleepless) night’s camping… at one point I was convinced we were going to be blown off the cliff! Followed by a drive down the Moki Dugway – dropping 1200ft with 11% grade switchbacks into Valley of the Gods and onto Monument Valley and the amazing formations there… a note to anyone looking at driving around Monument themselves – by all means heed the warnings that 4×4 and high clearance is recommended; however, the Smart car in front of us seemed to have a great time!
Onto Lake Powell, home of Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend… 2 classic photo opportunities that we weren’t going to miss. The problem with this is that you have seen what the professionals can pull off and it is somewhat harder to do these places justice yourself. Antelope Canyon is honestly one of the most stunning places I have ever been. Just look at what a bit of wind and water can do… Peter Lik took the world’s most expensive photograph here, selling for $6.5M… guess which one is his?!
We experienced somewhat of a weather change by the time we got to the Grand Canyon South Rim. Thinking we had learnt from our experiences at the North Rim 10 days or so before, we planned our hike (3 miles down the South Kaibab Trail) to start at dawn so as to avoid the midday/early afternoon heat that got us at North Rim as we hiked back up. Setting out in -3 degrees meant overheating was less of an issue! It was steeper in parts but overall an easier trail than last time and we were done in time for second breakfast at 11! There are huge warnings about overstepping your capabilities when hiking at the canyon and we went as far as was recommended on a day hike.
Health and fitness wise, I think we could have hit the next stopping point further down, but with nowhere to refill water better to be safe than sorry. We had already decided at this point that this was where we were going to blow the budget and take a helicopter trip… it’s really the only way to really appreciate the grandeur of the whole canyon and was definitely one of those ‘worth it’ experiences. The autumn colours of the trees on the North Rim and the background instrumental of ‘Flight of the Valkyries’ as we dropped into the canyon were just fab!
A brief visit to Joshua Tree en route to LA completed our round of National Parks – once again a completely different environment to anywhere else, and a superb last wilderness evening, sat on boulders watching the sunset with a glass of wine. (Rich – she means box of wine!!)