Our first sight of the Canyon from the overlooks on Desert View drive were fantastic. It was great to see the real thing after years of seeing photographs. We settled into our accommodation at the National Park Lodge which is situated among the south rim pine forest. There is a lot of wildlife: birds, squirrels of various types and deer. It was very quiet and after dinner we had a good sleep. We had planned to do part of the Bright Angel Trail which goes down into the Canyon but I woke at 5.30am with a migraine. I got rid of it fairly quickly but it leaves me feeling very tired so I did not think I could do the climb back up to the rim if we did the Bright Angel. We did a section of the Rim Trail instead. Sunday was the official first day of Fall and the temperature had dropped on the rim. This diversion to the Canyon has given me lots of ideas for future visits: the North Rim, on the South – take the bus to Hermit’s Rest and hike back (this is the quieter section) and take a mule ride into and out of the Canyon, staying overnight at Ghost Ranch. I can ride a horse and have ridden Western-style once before in the Appalachians (and Ladakhi-style in the Himalaya) so am confident enough that I can ride a mule. I would also like to hike the John Muir Trail sometime (takes about 21 days).
On Saturday we were up before it was light and had breakfast as soon as it opened. Then a 6 mile drive to the White House Trailhead. We were the first people there and so had the trail on the way down all to ourselves and some crows. The windblown sandstone rocks were amazing and it did not take us long to get to the canyon floor. There were a few Navajo homes as they farm there and some people were arriving to set up stalls in the hope of customers. Despite the recent heavy rainfall there was some mud but no water in the river. We crossed to look at the ruined White House which was built by the Pueblo people who left the area 700 years ago. Then, as we had a fairly long drive ahead of us, we climbed back up the 1.5 mile canyon wall via the switchbacks and headed off towards the Grand Canyon. This was a drive through the Painted Desert and some spectacular landscapes. We entered the canyon via the East exit which leads to Desert View Drive after a stop off at the Little Colorado Canyon viewing are run by the locals.