A Grand View Birthday

October 29-31, 2010

For my birthday — I'm fifty-s-s-s-something — we traveled north to hike the Grandview Trail, which descends 2500 feet to Horseshoe Mesa in the Grand Canyon.

It's a world class hike that's also a gorgeous drive from Tucson. Along the way we delighted in the snow-covered San Francisco peaks, a herd of 20-some pronghorns, and a fire red sunset.

We camped off a forest road just south of Tusayan. While we huddled in the cab of the TacoMa, it occurred to me that there were even more electronics than normal. Introducing PSK31, a portable ham radio rig coming soon to a tent near you!

The temperature plunged to 23° that night, which was quite a bit lower than forecast. We woke up with the sleeping bags firmly glued to the rear window. When we finally got unstuck, we found David wandering around outside, his bed having departed with the New Hance crew at 5:00 a.m.

We didn't hit the trail until 10:00 a.m. We had all hiked this trail before, but the sparkling fall weather and a relaxed pace gave us time to appreciate the amazing engineering of the miners who nailed this road to the face of the cliff more than 100 years ago. The upper sections of the trail include a number of log cribs and sandstone pavers that were part of the original mining road.

The non-stop views from this trail are only exceeded by its unrelenting steepness. But we took our time and made it all the way to the mesa, where we surprised to find plenty of antique mining equipment, bits of pottery, a crumbling adobe cabin and other reminders of the former Last Chance Mine.

I was very jealous of the occupants of the small campground, who could look forward to a full night on this magical mesa. Maybe next time.

On the long climb out, my fellow ravens gave me my usual fly-over salute. Thanks to them, and to David, Rogil and Dennis for a great birthday celebration!