Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Grand Canyon, Part 1

     Our main goal of staying in Flagstaff, AZ was to visit Grand Canyon National Park. After an amazing breakfast at a local Flagstaff Eatery, MartAnne's we were ready to embark on our journey.... after getting handed a speeding ticket (I guess I was really excited to get there) we arrived with dozens and dozens of others.
     Thankfully, without children or restraints on our physical ability, we were able to avoid the biggest crowds and hike an hour down the Kaibab trail. It is definitely not a trail friendly for families with young children or older folks, it's very steep, little shade and you do hike along the edge of a cliff at points. We made sure to carry water, mind our time, so we wouldn't end up too far down, and just hiked smart. We hiked back up faster than going down, and felt relatively good after.
     Oh yeah, and the sights, they were stunning! Photos do it little to no justice versus seeing it in person:
Carved out by the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon!
The Zig-zagging trail is part of the Kaibab trail, we didn't go that far, to where this part of the trail is.

5,000 feet to the bottom!

Found an Elk along the Rim trail. I think most folks skipped right past this guy!
Prickly much?

Another Plateau Fence Lizard, basking in the sun along the Rim Trail.
Lots of red tail hawks, the red tails out there have some darker wing markings and heads.
A side blotched lizard on the Rim Trail.

Really really stoked to see this, an Arizona Blonde Tarantula! My first North American Tarantula, just walking across the Rim Trail.
These tarantulas are harmless and generally docile and want little to nothing to do with us. This one is a male, you can tell from his lanky features and darker colors, females have the more blond look, are a bit more stocky, and also live longer. 20 years for a female is relatively normal, males 1 or 2 years of life is relatively normal!
A rock squirrel... in a tree!
Kaibab trail, going down!
You spend a lot of time looking down to be sure of your footing, but don't forget to look up and savor the views!
Oh yeah, mules, you have to sometimes share the trail...
I think this is another side blotched lizard... but not 100% sure, like 95%.

A rock squirrel on rock, who ever named this guy was super creative!
He has some pretty sweet real-estate, for a squirrel!
Mountain chickadees were hard to photograph, hey don't sit still. They sound like a black-capped chickadee with a cold. Much more nasal than the ones here in NY.
Western bluebirds grab a sip to drink from a leaky hydrant.

A "grey headed" Dark-eyed Junco was one of the two junco forms found in the area....
The "Oregon" dark-eyed juncos were also quite pretty! Same species though as the grey headed, just some different color variations. 

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