Fall 2021: Arizona

White Pocket

One of the most sought after destinations in the west is The Wave.  Google it, and you’ll see why.  Unfortunately, it is so popular that BLM has implemented a lottery system for visitors, and your odds of getting a permit are very low.  But there is an easy to reach alternative (for those who have a sufficient vehicle) that has no restrictions.

You have arrived at White Pocket. But what is it? Those two people make the answer rather obvious, but what if they weren’t there?
While it may seem to be moving and swirling below, it’s just rock. I imagine this could be a scene from someone’s nightmare. I see creatures trying to emerge from roots in the rock. Is that a creepy old woman on the right?
White Pocket is actually a rather small area. This view looks beyond it to more of the Vermillion Cliffs National Moument.

Grand Canyon – Parashant National Monument

I bet you’ve never heard of the Arizona Strip.  It’s that portion of NW Arizona that is north of the Colorado River.  I have to confess that I was underimpressed.  While it was mildly impressing, it was nothing like a junior version of the Grand Canyon – at least in the places I visited.  And the driving was often very slow and tedious.  But still, there is always something interesting wherever I go.

Petrogryphs at Napaweap.  it's all Greek to me.
Petrogryphs at Napaweap. it’s all Greek to me.
OK, I’ll admit it. Most “historical” places hold my interest only a little. Interestingly, this building has been both restored (in 1994) and resconstructed (in 2000-2001).
I actually spent a night here.  Although the building was inviting, I declined the invitation.
On the way out I ran into some interesting scenery – and more visitors.  They must know something I don’t know.

Grand Canyon

After many visits and perhaps 20 days spent at and in the Grand Canyon, you might think I’ve had enough.  But although I know the main portion pretty well, there was more to explore.  It’s a magical place.  I actually made two very different visits, one to the North Rim and one from the South Rim.

North Rim

Although I had hiked to the North Rim from the South Rim in 2016, I wanted to go back for more.  This time I drove there like all normal visitors do.  I drove the main roads to see the sights that most visitors see and then ventured onto the trails.  But I also took a back road to one of the special places in the Grand Canyon.

Here at Point Sublime, far from the beaten path, the views are, well, sublime. And yet, the views were obscured by smoke and haze. And at more than 180º (far more than you see here), you can’t capture them in one image.  Of all the days to be there. Sob! Wonderful? Who knows? Yet I enjoyed them.  My kingdom for a clear day!


What many may not know is that the Grand Canyon is a long 278-mile, one mile deep gouge in the earth. Here, from Roosevelt Point, you can see the nondescript, flat, green area above and beyond the rim. Who cares about that? Perhaps no one, but note that for many miles it is the norm. Below it is the famous Grand Canyon, visible only due to the tremendous cutting power of the Colorado River flowing unseen from right to left. Leading to it is a small tributary that has carved out a huge canyon. FWIW, Navajo Mountain is prominent on the far upper left.

South Rim

While my North Rim visit was by car, my South Rim trip was backpacking.  (If you’ve only visited by car, you’ve only seen the Grand Canyon one way.)  Although the canyon itself is 277 miles long, I have hiked most of the trials in the middle 20 river miles of that.  Of course, this is by far the most popular area, where the miles are difficult, more difficult and much more difficult.  (The miles that are “wild” are another story.)  But there was one stretch I had missed, from the South Kaibab Trail to Grandview Point, so I had to hike that.

The Grand Canyon as seen from the South Kaibab trailhead. My journey would go down about 2/3 of the away to the green plateau you can see below and then to the right for most of the journey.
Here at Ooh Aah Point (even at noon), the Grand Canyon is incomparable. I would return any day at the drop of a hat.
The South Kaibab Trail is very well defined, but it is never easy. Of course, the views are tremendous.
A short section of the South Kaibab Trail. No, it doesn’t end in the green area below. The bottom is still about 3½ miles away.
After 6+ hours (and many standard yet amazing views) I reach the Tip Off, where I begin my journey into my last unexplored area (more or less) of the popular portion of the Grand Canyon.
While lodging on the rim can be crowded and costly, down here in the canyon it’s silent and almost free. And it’s all yours!
This is a genuine water source in the Grand Canyon. It supposedly gets much better 30 minutes downstream.
Here’s a good view of the Colorado River. The steep walls of the gorge generally make it hard to see to the bottom.
When I arrive at Cottonwod Creek, a reliable water source, I find out that the locals also know about it. Who would have thunk it?
This is a trail.  A rock slide had occurred rather recently. So not only was the trail steep, but it was also seriously rocky and slow going. I didn’t record how long the rocky stretch was, but I guess it was about a mile and took an hour to cross. This had been a short but hard journey when I reached this point, and I was getting tired. Now it became a couple notches harder.