Toroweap Overlook – Off the Beaten Path in the Grand Canyon (Part 1)

Dear Diary,

I know I have neglected you dearest diary but I have been very far off of the grid (so hard to do nowadays) and living la vida loca. Well, maybe a G rated vida loca. But let me tell you where I’ve been…

The Grand Canyon.

There is a reason it is considered one of the 7 wonders of the world. There is no photo that can do it justice. Not one.

Everyone without exception does the same thing when they first look over the rim and that is an involuntary gasp. It literally takes your breath away. Nothing in the world can make me feel simultaneously insignificant and esoteric quite like the Grandest of Canyons.

Go ahead and click on this and then click on it again, and still it falls far short.

Panoramic Grand Canyon 2

It leaves me breathless every time I lay eyes on this magnificent marvel, whether it has been years or a moment.

I have been to the crowded South Rim on a few occasions now. The hotels and handrails are there for convenience, but I wanted more.

I wanted to see it without having to share it with busloads of tourists, all trying to get the perfect shot of one of God’s most amazing creations (I’m pretty sure he must have created it for his pleasure, since there is nothing else quite like it).

So with the appropriate amount of research (months literally) and a well timed request for a Backcountry Permit from the NPS, we packed up our Jeep and newly renovated (circa 1940’s) military trailer for parts previously unknown.

Jeep and trailer 2

We were not disappointed.

The first half of the week we had slated to camp in the Grand Canyon National Park at a remote campground in the north rim area known as Tuweep/Toroweap Overlook area (I’m still confused as to why it is referred to as either name).

This trip is not for the impatient. After leaving the paved road (in Utah), we traveled down a very well maintained dirt road (it would be hair raising if it were during wet conditions) for 61 miles. Note the sunning lizard on the mileage sign.

Lizard Sign 2

We were warned about there not being any services, food, or water available. Duly noted. We were prepared.

Warning sign

I’m not gonna lie, that last couple miles are rough. When they say high clearance vehicle, they are not kidding.

We made ourselves at home (at an empty campground, which to a Southern Californian is mind boggling) and set off to see the real attraction…the Grand Canyon via Toroweap Overlook.

Our home sweet home is pictured below. You KNOW me diary, I am a big city girl…so this is a bit of a redneck culture shock for me. That’s probably why I sustained a teeny tiny head injury while attempting to be useful at setting up. I think I’ll just stick to carrying my purse from the car to the tent next time (my usual MO).

But I am embracing it. If you knew me, you wouldn’t know me right now.

homesweethome2It was what I like to say…H – O – Double TT.

Hot!

We knew it would be hot with little protection from the sun, but the. Grand Canyon is formidable when it comes to teaching one humility with aridity. And it just happened to be during record heat in Arizona this week.

Out of the 12 deaths per year at the canyon, only 1 or 2 are falls (sadly they are already at this number for 2015), many more are due to environmental issues (drowning and heat). Still, with 4.3 million visitors annually, the Grand Canyon is a very safe place to be.

I have a theory as to why.

This place is so overwhelmingly immense in every way, the mind is immediately and automatically on high alert to self preservation.

With my teeny tiny head injury (the scalp bleeds so much for such a little cut doesn’t it?), a hat was out.  No matter, with water packs on our backs, off we went to see what Toroweap Overlook had to offer.

I shall let the photo do the talking, even if it does a poor job of capturing the grandeur.

Toroweap Overlook 2

It’s just too dang high up (over 3,000 feet) to stand on the edge. The mighty Colorado River looks like a small stream from this height.

Never mind that unlady like pose…I felt I needed to be planted pretty steadily.

See those white caps on the river that look like a babbling stream? Those are what is known as Lava Falls Rapids, a level 10 (the highest) for difficulty. The only clue we had to their existence was the roar of the water…even this far away. Oh, and the internet research we’d done beforehand.

Here is an example of what it looks like on the water…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38fzPEq2W1U. I will add that the 4 rafts we watched go through the rapids (they looked like tiny toys) successfully navigated it, but they all stayed to one side unlike the raft in this video.

My photos are unenhanced, sadly I don’t have a reliable program on this laptop to edit them, yet it is testimony to how beautiful the canyon is. Even an unenhanced photo is magnificent.

What a different experience than being among the masses on the South Rim. Other than the occasional gust of wind and very distant roar of the water, this place was silent. No railings, no cars, no voices, no phones, no signs, no anything but the majesty of the canyon.

But it’s true we had to earn it. If it was easy, everybody would be here.

There is a growing necessity to unplug. It is the only time the soul can push forward of the mind and get the food it needs. Beauty, solitude, and the rehabilitating energy of natural and spiritual life.

I know I sound alarmingly like a tree hugger, but don’t judge ’til you try it.

It was 106 degrees, but it didn’t matter. The canyon kept calling me like a beautiful song I know I may never hear again. So I kept answering.

Torweap Overlook hiker 2The vista changes with every movement of light. The sun and shadow play on every crook, cranny, and crevice like an ever changing canvass, never being the same painting twice.

The next day we explored our surroundings early since we knew the heat would be upon us. We discovered another beautiful overlook off of the Saddle Horse Loop. Beautifully alluringly treacherous like a femme fatale, we made our way as close to the edge as we dared. My hubby gave me a choice on which side of the rock I would like to stand in order to not block the river view. He’s hilarious like that.

Saddle Loop Hike Overlook 2

Here’s a much better photo (not mine) of roughly the same spot…this madman must have had an extension pole.

not mine

My manic spouse actually unplugged enough to read a book. I know right?

That night I was awoken by my hubby’s nasal symphonies (remember, no electricity means no white noise), so I crawled out of our tent and sat in silence. As I raised my eyes to the sky, I was captivated with a visual feast that I have never seen anything like before in my life.

The purest night sky. No light pollution, no moon. Alas, my photo did not come out, so I am using one that most accurately portrays what I saw.

Night Sky North RimShooting stars were everywhere. NOW I know why it is called the milky way, something I can’t see at all in So Cali. It was so incredibly beautiful I almost cried with joy.

And gratitude.

We cut our stay short by one day only because we found ourselves huddling in the shadow of rocks for respite. The heat was oppressive and relentless, but the beauty of this place will stay with me forever.

Until next time dearest.

 

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One thought on “Toroweap Overlook – Off the Beaten Path in the Grand Canyon (Part 1)

  1. Pingback: Off the Beaten Path – Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California | Diary of a Mad Baby Boomer

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