The second day at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon started at the De Motte Campground 7 miles outside the entrance to the North Rim. The day started out hot, sunny and clear. I slept a little later than desired and didn’t make it up in time for sunrise and probably wouldn’t for a while until I got a chance to get some rest later in the week at Mammoth Lakes, California. Yesterday the goal was to explore the area of the North Rim from Point Imperial to Cape Royal. I hadn’t made it through all those viewpoints so today started out at Point Imperial.
Point Imperial was an 11-mile drive into the North Rim of the Grand Canyon from the visitor center along a paved road. It was off on a spur away from the rest of the sights along the main road. There was a parking area there and a dirt path that led to another overlook into the Grand Canyon. There was a fenced in overlook after a short walk from the parking lot to the overlook point.
Point Imperial provided some of the most dramatic views of the Grand Canyon yet! The rocks near the edge of the canyon were an off-white color, the deeper canyon sections were a smattering of bright colors (shrouded in a bit of haze) and there were closer red and orange rock formations topped with what looked like a dollop of French vanilla ice cream. It was much the same color as the rock formations near the edge of the overlook.
There were some trees along the edge of the rim overlook and while I may have been able to get close enough to the edge to remove them from the photos, I didn’t want to get that close to the edge of the canyon. Like the sights at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon yesterday, distant rock formations tended to fade out in photographs thanks to the haze in the air. I tried a few HDR shots but that didn’t help to get rid of the haze at all. It was similar to the amount of haze found in Kings Canyon at Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks in California.
After shooting for a while at Point Imperial I decided to hike the Point Imperial Trail. It was a four-mile round trip hike that passed through lots of forested land. Much of the trail bared scars of past forest fires as blackened tree stubs dotted the landscape. The hike was mostly exposed and fairly hot; hot enough to warrant carrying fair amount of water with me in addition to the camera gear.
The Point Imperial Trail alternated between forested areas and Grand Canyon overlooks throughout the length of the trail. There were a few towering rock formations near the edge of the canyon. Haze was still a major issue for taking any photographs of the canyons way off in the distance. It was evident that the forest fire took place long enough ago for the forest to start to regenerate. There were small trees starting to crop up along the trail but virtually nothing taller than 10 feet in most places and nothing that a strong animal or human would not be able to knock over with a little effort.
Like the Bristlecone Pine Forest there were some X-files tree people amongst the dead tree formations along the trail. I snapped a few photos of those to add to the collection of tree people. Toward the end of the Point Imperial Trail it looked like the forest fire spared a little more of the plant life as more full size trees provided some shade along the trail. At one point along the trail I came across and photographed a butterfly or moth that showed off colors more vibrant than could be captured in the distant canyons seen along the Point Imperial Trail. Near the end of the Point Imperial Trail was an amphitheater that looked a little bit like the hoodoo amphitheater at Bryce Canyon National Park.
Once I’d seen enough of the sights along the Point Imperial Trail I hiked back to the trailhead and drove back to Vista Encantada where I took in more of the same sights I’d seen yesterday and snapped a bunch of photos that looked very similar to what I’d captured yesterday. That was followed by another stop at Roosevelt Point where I’d stopped yesterday and then a stop at the Walhalla Overlook.
At the Walhalla Overlook there was a sign that provided some information about the ancient people who live there more than 1,000 years ago. The combination of the view and what seemed to be less hazy air made for some better photographs that captured more of the brilliant rainbow of colors deep in the Grand Canyon. It was difficult to get any wide landscape photos without a lot of trees growing just below the rim of the canyon. At first I just accepted the trees in the photos but later was able to figure out a way to safely get closer to the edge of the canyon to snap some photos without trees in them.
The final stop and hike of the day was the Cape Royal Trail at the end of the road through the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Along the Cape Royal Trail there were two major landmarks. Angels Window, a large hole in a sheer canyon wall provided a “window” view down into the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. The Colorado River could be seen through the window. It was a cool sight but not as spectacular as some of the Arches at Arches National Park or the Hickman Bridge at Capitol Reef National Park in Utah.
Since it was a 45-minute drive all the way back down to the entrance of the North Rim I decided to hedge my bets and stay up at Cape Royal for the remainder of the day. I ran into a woman and her father on some sort of a road trip. She seemed to be an artist of sorts or at least talked about some artist organization or website and planed to give me some sort of business card with information about it. I gave her my ski instructor business card, she never left her card on my car and I never heard from her.
As the sun started to set I went back to the Cape Royal Overlook and got setup for sunset. There was no meditating chick on the edge of the overlook today to sit right where everyone wanted to snap sunset photos. The rock formations and the castle-type formation lit up as the softer late afternoon light stated to hit them. The photos were much better without people in them. By the time the sun was gone for the day I felt like I’d come away with better photos than last night.
On the way back to the car I snapped a few more photos of Angels Window and then sat in the parking lot for a little while to most everyone was gone. It seems that even in the national parks everyone is always in a hurry. As a result there is always someone tailgating. By waiting until the parking lot was just about empty I’d be able to have a nice quiet peaceful drive back down to the village at or below the speed limit without someone riding impatiently riding right on my tail for the duration of the 23-mile drive back down.
After a brief stop at the lodge and the village I headed back to the De Motte Campground for my final night at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. The campground was still no more than half full. I found some random canned and boxed food in the car to eat for dinner, thought about what would be a crazy long journey tomorrow to Mammoth Lakes, California and drifted off to sleep as the temperatures started to drop and cool off a bit for the night.