Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Grand Canyon---more training

May 23, 2008
The backpacking trip went well and finding the owls was all too easy. We basically set up camp a few hundred meters below where the owls were roosting, and of course, Dave found them immediately. We all huddled in a group, peering up at the very tolerant owls, a male and a female chillin in some tall box elder trees. Our occupancy data collected, we went back to camp, cooked up some dinners, saw a ringtail cat, and slept under the stars. The canyon begins as a tight slot canyon similar to those in the rest of Zion, but eventually broadens out and empties into the desert. Definitely worth returning to for continued exploration.
In the morning, I awoke well before the sun even hit the tops of the canyon walls and set our for a little exploration. Hiking up and down some side canyons, I was greeted by many birds. Black-headed grosbeaks, western tanagers, Lazuli bunting, Wilson's warblers, Mcgilavray's warblers, Virginia's warbler, black-tailed gnatcatchers, and many more I can't recall. Such a wonderful habitat in these canyons. Full of maple, box elder, white pine, douglas fir, and oak.
Quickly hiking out, we then set off for the Grand Canyon. I headed north through Cedar City, while everyone else went south, the quicker route. I had a wonderful drive...beautiful scenery, wild weather (it snowed!). Arriving in the Grand Canyon North Rim was extremely exciting. My first time, and I was not disappointed. The view is spectacular. I took quite a lot of time taking photos. Later that nigh, after being shown our seclusive camping area, Dave treated us all ($240) to a meal in the lodge. Everyone but me and Kerri drank quite a bit, which makes things interesting/uncomfortable/ok for me. Sometimes I feel cool about it, sometimes I am disgusted. But now we are all in our tents which we pitched over an inch of snow, with an inch accumulated since and more falling. I am thoroughly enjoying it all.

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