Tag Archives: Grand Canyon

~Sunset

~October, 2017, Grand Canyon, South Rim

Gazing out over the canyon, the last of the sun’s rays highlight the rocky cliffs along the canyon. One can’t help but be in awe of the explosion of color being offered in the minutes before the sun descends over the western horizon. It truly is a sight to behold.

Just as this day came to an end, our trip to the Grand Canyon came to an end.

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Setting sun, October 21, 2017

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The fading light leaves it mark on the cliffs turning stone into colorful spires, and this trip leaves magical memories in my mind.

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~Next up Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood, AZ.

~Nature

~October, 2017, Grand Canyon, South Rim

The Grand Canyon is one of the seven natural wonders of the world, along with Mount Everest in Nepal, Victoria Falls in Zambia/Zimbabwe, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the Northern Lights, Paricutin Volcano in Mexico and Harbor of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. The Canyon attracts 4.5 million visitors from all over the world annually.

The Grand Canyon is home to 70 species of mammals, 250 species of birds, 25 species of reptiles and five species of amphibians.

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Grand Canyon, South Rim, as we walk east.

Howard and I walked about five to six miles each day while visiting the Grand Canyon. We preferred the east end of the South Rim Trail. The longer we walked the trail, the fewer people we encountered. The terrain was different going east in that it was more forested.  I loved this area. A perfect environment for birds and wildlife.

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Taken in an area east of Mather Point.

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You can’t imagine my delight when I downloaded the photo below. I haven’t seen this bird in years. It is a Red Crossbill. If you zoom in on the photo take a look at its bill.

Red Crossbill
Red Crossbill

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Elk (looks like a first year)
Elk (looks like a first year)

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Junco, Gray-headed
Junco, Gray-headed

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Howard and I were walking along the South Rim Trail near the El Tower Hotel and spotted this Green-tailed Towhee looking for food – scratch, scratch, scratch! They are beautiful and fun to watch.

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Green-tailed Towhee

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One evening we were walking the trails around the RV park. There were lots of Western Bluebirds in the area. In fact, I tried to get a photo of them drinking from a faucet, but someone walked by and they flew. This Western Bluebird, in the photo below flew before I could manually focus on her, but I like the photo.

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Western Bluebird

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Ravens:

I never get bored watching these intelligent birds.  I truly believe this Raven was mimicking a barking dog. I heard a dog barking for several minutes before I heard the Raven. I remember thinking, “what in the heck is making that noise”.

Singning
Barking? Note the wedge-shaped tail. This is how you can ID the Raven.

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He looks happy with himself!

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This Raven was sitting high up in a tree and “talking” away. I saw a young girl, about 11 years old with her phone, trying to get a photo of him. She was shooting into the sun and through a lot of branches. I walked over to the tree and called her to some stand where I was standing. I was happy to see her excitement in seeing this bird. I hope her photos came out okay!

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Soaring
Soaring

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There are approximately 200 species of trees and shrubs in Grand Canyon National Park. Most of these are found in the higher elevations of the park, on the South and North rims. Some of the tree species include the white fir, Engleman spruce, blue spruce, Douglas fir, corkbark fir, ponderosa pine, Utah juniper, alligator juniper, Colorado pinyon, quaking aspen, Fremont cottonwood, Gambel oak, and Arizona walnut.

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Birds I observed at the Grand Canyon, South Rim. I was very surprised at the number of birds there were in the area.

`Northern Flicker Red-shafted

`Hairy Woodpecker

`Scrub Jay

`Pinyon Jay

`Stellar’s Jay

`Common Raven

`Mountain Chickadee

`White-breasted Nuthatch

`Red-breasted Nuthatch

`Pygmy Nuthatch

`Western Bluebird

`American Robin

`Green-tailed Towhee

`Spotted Towhee

`Juncos

`White-crowned Sparrow

`Red Crossbill

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Howard had a fun time taking panoramic photos with his iPhone.

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Howard checking out his panoramic photos!
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This header photo is one of Howard’s gorgeous panoramic photos!

~Taking the time to enjoy nature~

 

~Mules

~Grand Canyon, October, 2017

For some reason, I felt compelled to visit the Mule Barn, located near the Village along Village Loop Drive. I had expectations of seeing a few mules and was pleasantly surprised to see a Mule Train coming back to the barn. I haven’t ever seen a “Mule Train” tethered together before.

 

Returning to the barn
Mule Train

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What does the name “mule” mean?

The word “mule” can be used for any hybrid, and is a cross between two species of equine: the horse or pony (Equus caballus) and the domestic donkey (Equus asinus). The term “mule” is used for either the cross of male donkey on female horse, or the cross of female donkey on male horse, although the latter cross is more correctly known as a “hinny.” Mules and hinnies each have one horse and one donkey parent, however the two crosses generally differ from each other in appearance and stature, and—to some extent—temperament. (information taken from Lucky Three Ranch.

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Returning to the barn.

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Mule Barn
Mule Barn

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The mule in the photo below was turned out into a corral. The section of fence where Howard and I were standing didn’t have any “Don’t Pet the Mules” signs. So, being the animal lover that I am, I began petting this friendly mule. He came right up to the fence and seemed to enjoy the attention I was giving him. I was totally ignored by three other mules in the same corral.

After giving him lots of love, we continued on our walk along the path next to the corral, it was then that I noticed the signs “Don’t Pet the Mules”. Oh well, too late! {grins}

Pack Mule
Pack Mule

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They just look so sad, but how would I know for sure.

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~The information below was taken from the Lucky Three Ranch:

 

What are the physical characteristics of the Mule:

  • A distinctive bray.
  • Long ears.
  • Short, upright and thin mane.
  • Hair only on the end of its tail.
  • Tends to look more horse-like.
  • May come in a variety of colors.
  • Hooves are narrow and box-like, unlike the horse’s hoof. They’re upstanding, and made for rock and mountain climbing. They are tough and elastic, non-chipping and can grow to long lengths when the animal is on soft ground and the hooves are left untrimmed.
  • Long body with long, wiry muscles.
  • Short and straight back. Lacks upstanding withers and is excellent for packing and weight bearing.
  • Bone is dense and hard.
  • Gestation is 12 months, whereas the gestation period for a horse is 11 months.
  • Usually has a white belly and muzzle, and circles around the eyes.
  • Colors are much like that of a horse.
  • They can come in more colors than a horse, even an Appaloosa.
  • Mule’s conformation falls somewhere in between that of the donkey and that of the horse.
  • Mules inherit best traits from both its sire and its dam.
  • Mules get their athletic ability from the horse, while strength and intelligence come from the donkey.

What are the mental characteristics of the Mule:

  • Highly intelligent, alert, curious and affectionate, when not worn down by bad conditions (i.e., cruel treatment, bad shelter, bad food and water or overwork).
  • Quick to learn. A well-trained mule is calm, tolerant, loyal, affectionate, obliging and patient.
  • Sensitive. Mules and donkeys might be mistaken as being stubborn when they’re actually afraid or confused.
  • Has common sense and not prone to panic or carelessness.
  • Can recognize danger.

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 ~I don’t believe I could ride a mule down into the canyon. However, lots of people do.~

 

 

 

 

~Scary

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A rocky trail,

descending into the canyon,

without a rail.

 

The path is narrow,

its slope goes up,

its slope goes down.

 

I cling to the stone wall,

my heart beats fast,

a fall will kill.

 

As I walk along,

I can’t help it,

I am scared.

 

After awhile,

unclenching my fist,

I relax.

 

Able to enjoy,

I lift my eyes,

scanning the horizon.

 

Its beauty captivates,

my senses peak,

I take a deep breath.

 

I did it,

smiling,

I am proud.

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The Bright Angel trail head.
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Not too far down yet; but a deep drop-off.
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Going down
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Howard along the trail.
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A view from the trail. Notice the trail below on the right.

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Howard and I decided that we were going to take a hike down into the canyon. For three days we watched others descending into the canyon. We wanted to experience the adventure for ourselves. We knew we couldn’t go too far; a mile or two would do.

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Grand Canyon, 10/2017. Going down into the canyon. We did it!

 

~Inspiring~

 

~Water

~Grand Canyon, October, 2017

Water – I guess it seems like a strange subject to post about the Grand Canyon, but it is one I am still reflecting on.

After arriving and setting up camp, in The Trailer Village RV Park at the Grand Canyon, Howard and I noticed the birds, elk and deer hunting for water.

Not knowing anything about water resources within this national park, other than the fact the Colorado River flows through the canyon, after awhile I was complaining to Howard, “Why can’t the park service at least have a small pond for the birds to drink out of?”. Yeah, I beautiful pond with a water fall. Perfect!

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During our 4 night visit, I watched several species of birds trying to get a drip of water from the water faucets at the RV sites. Their size didn’t matter, from the smallest — Pygmy, White-breasted and Red-breasted Nuthatches, to the largest — Jays and Ravens, with every size in between. They expended a tremendous amount of energy for a few drops of water.

Red-breasted and White-breasted Nuthatches
Nuthatches

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Notice a drip at the faucet and a drip at the end of the bill.

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Red-brested Nuthatch

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One day Howard and I were sitting in the coach and noticed a small crowd gathering near us. “What are all these people looking at”, I asked Howard. I went outside and saw an Elk at an RV that had just pulled in. I man and his wife were in the process of setting up camp; connecting their electric and water.

Water was dripping from a compartment on the RV. They were quite upset with this young Elk when it began drinking from the open hatch. I heard the wife say, “How are we going to get rid of him?”. It was funny and sad at the same time.

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A very thirsty Elk.

This Elk wouldn’t leave the RV. The site between us and this RV was empty, so I ran over there and turned on the water faucet. The Elk heard the water running and eventually went to drink from it.

It must have liked the water from the RV better, because after awhile it went back to the RV. By this time the situation wasn’t amusing anymore to the owners of the RV, because the man retrieved a broom and tried to chase it away. The Elk was very persistent, but non-aggressive.

One evening after dark we came back to the RV Village from walking along the rim and watched a small herd of deer doing the something.

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One day as we were walking along the rim of the canyon we noticed this sign. I guess I’am not the only one feeling sympathy for these animals.

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“Please DO NOT turn on the water faucet for the Elk!”

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Another day we came upon these Elk drinking water from this “ditch”. I don’t know if this is what they call a water “seepage” or not.

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Grand Canyon Stream Train in the background.

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Where do wildlife get water?

Here is a web-site I found, one of hundreds probably, on water sources in the Grand Canyon.

Spring-Types

Seeps and springs – the true local water of Grand Canyon – offer significant resources to visitors and wildlife alike. The water from Roaring Springs, for example, provides the park with its entire domestic water supply. And at even the smallest seeps, abundant plant and animal life grows and flourishes. In fact, the ecosystems of seeps and springs represent some of the most complicated, diverse, productive, provocative, and threatened ecosystems on earth.

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The Colorado River is one of the principal rivers of the Southwestern United States and northern Mexico (the other being the Rio Grande). The 1,450-mile-long (2,330 km) river drains an expansive, arid watershed that encompasses parts of seven U.S. and two Mexican states. Starting in the central Rocky Mountains in the U.S., the river flows generally southwest across the Colorado Plateau and through the Grand Canyon before reaching Lake Mead on the ArizonaNevada border, where it turns south toward the international border. After entering Mexico, the Colorado approaches the mostly dry Colorado River Delta at the tip of the Gulf of California between Baja California and Sonora.

Known for its dramatic canyons, whitewater rapids, and eleven U.S. National Parks, the Colorado River system is a vital source of water for 40 million people in southwestern North America.[6] The river and its tributaries are controlled by an extensive system of dams, reservoirs, and aqueducts, which in most years divert its entire flow for agricultural irrigation and domestic water supply.[7][8] Its large flow and steep gradient are used for generating hydroelectric power, and its major dams regulate peaking power demands in much of the Intermountain West. Intensive water consumption has dried up the lower 100 miles (160 km) of the river, which has rarely reached the sea since the 1960s.[7][9][10]    (taken from wikipedia

 

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Gray-headed Junco, sitting on top of a water faucet.

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Water in the Grand Canyon, not easily found, not easily explained.

 

~The Grand Canyon

 

~A Land To Inspire Our Spirit…

Grand Canyon — one of Earth’s most powerful, inspiring, landscapes — overwhelms our senses.

Its story tells of geologic processes played out over unimaginable time spans as a unique combination of size, color, and dazzling erosional forms:

-277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep.

Its rugged landscape hosts a fascinating variety of plant and animal communities, from the desert next to the Colorado River deep in the canyon to montane forests atop its North Rim.

Humans have played parts in the story for thousands of years. Broken spear points, enigmatic split-twig figurines, decorated pots, abandoned mines, and historic hotels suggest some who have called the canyon home.

Today, is just the latest page in a history still being written. Grand Canyon National Park is a gift presented to us. (taken from the GC brochure)

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Howard and I were presented with the opportunity to experience this beautiful gift from nature for four days. We were there from October 18th thru the 21st.

Over the next several days I hope to share our adventures with you.

Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon

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~A Land to Inspire Our Spirit….it sure inspired mine!~