A Visit to “Mystery Mountain”

6

October 16, 2020-

It wasn’t a long absence from Home Base, especially in light of a wildfire that may require some attention, this weekend. I did, however, make good on a visit to northern Arizona’s “other” Red Mountain-this one about halfway between Valle and Flagstaff, on US Highway 180.

I began the day with a run to Tusayan, the service town that lies just outside Grand Canyon National Park. That was entirely to get some cash, which I had neglected to do in Williams, yesterday afternoon. With cash comes a gratuity for the motel maid, who has things extra difficult-dealing with the POSSIBILITY that some guests may not be conscientious regarding traveling whilst ill.

Saying good bye to Grand Canyon Inn, I headed southeast and found Red Mountain to be quite popular, on this tail end of Fall Break. An easy 1.2 mile walk, from the trailhead to a short ladder, leads to a mini-wonderland, not unlike the larger area of spires, hoodoos and expansive sandstone cliffs found in Bryce Canyon, Utah.

Red Mountain is a cinder cone, with volcanic ash covering the cinders, thus forming many of the hoodoos which grace its northern base. Slippery volcanic dust and pebbles form the groundcover, making it important to mind one’s steps. It was understood, by everyone present, to stay off the rocks themselves, which are clearly delicate.

Here are several scenes of the trail and of the Volcanic Park.

The 1.5 mile trail begins in this juniper grove.
A southward view of Red Mountain.
Red Mountain is the westernmost peak in the San Francisco Volcanic Field. Abineau Peak neighbours it to the southeast.
This scene points out the rugged nature of the terrain. Volcanic soil is rich, but is not thick.
Kids of all ages may be tempted to go up, and slide down, here, It is a very treacherous ledge and climbing is forbidden.
Cinder hoodoos, covered in black ash.
Ponderosa pines, the tallest trees in Arizona, sometimes have fallen victim to volcanic dust clouds that get whipped up in storms. Fire is also a danger.
Some of the stones evoke elephant images.
This volcanic box canyon is lined with basalt spires like these.
Every path has its guardians.
Sand, piled up in the box canyon, gradually hardened and formed these “busts”.
These crevices, as yet, do not go very far.
Older crevices, though, present a temptation to get oneself stuck.
Here is one end of the box canyon.
Here is a ledge of hoodoos, representing the other end of the canyon.

On my way out, I met a young family who were exploring the approaches to the box canyon, at the child’s own pace. The little girl asked me how to get up “Mystery Mountain”. I told her the ledge she was trying to get up could be the first Mystery Mountain and there were many more. (She was, with Mommy’s help, about two feet up.)

It is for moments like this, as much as anything else, that I go forth to see my own Mystery places.

The Peak of the Canyon-Part II

4

October 6, 2019, Jacob Lake-

I made a silent promise to my long-departed maternal grandfather, whom I never met in this life, but who has appeared to me, a few times, that I would not give in to a more irrational level of acrophobia.  He has been one of my spirit guides, all these years, exhorting me to face life and overcome obstacles.  He and Grandma imparted that message to my mother and her siblings; an examination of their lives bears out  that exhortation’s fruits.

So, as I readied for visits to three of the overlooks at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, there was no trepidation at engaging the heights of this wondrous place.  The North Rim exists at the highest point of the western Colorado Plateau. Had the canyon never been carved, one would face a 2,000 foot increase in elevation, from Tusayan to  the site of Grand Canyon Lodge.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

My first order of business, after looking around the Lodge for a bit, was a walk out to Bright Angel Point.  As today was one of the most gorgeous Sundays in quite a while, there were dozens of people, of all ages, walking about or at least lounging on the Lodge’s patio, which also offers views of the canyon below.

Here are a few of those scenes available to the sedentary.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I then availed myself of a couple of overlooks, close to the Lodge.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Bright Angel Point involves a fairly strenuous hike, mainly due to the elevation.  Those with pulmonary issues do best to stick to the Lodge area. An intrepid woman using trekking poles made it half-way, before concluding it would be a mistake to continue.  There were several of us late middle-agers who made the walk, though, along with folks as young as five.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

It was at the above guard fence that a little girl wanted to climb up, for  “a better view”.  You’d best believe her mother’s hands were firmly on her, for that exercise in bravery!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The various striations in the sandstone clearly show the levels it has taken, to build this most magnificent of geologic records.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

In the next post, Point Imperial and Cape Royal offer a northeastern perspective of the Canyon’s wonders.