January 22-24, 2010
When I post about my Grand Canyon hikes, I end up skipping all the short jaunts along the rim from the time I lived there.
This leaves a lot of nice photos and experiences that would otherwise go unseen from a backcountry hiking perspective, so that’s what I’m showing you here.
Each instance of rim photography doesn’t call for an individual website post, so I’m doing an overview for each calendar year.
This is the 1st of 2 of these posts for the year 2010.
To this day, the most snow I’ve ever seen at Grand Canyon’s South Rim fell in January of 2010.
It felt like a single blizzard, but I recall it as a series of storms that swept through over the course of a week, with only short breaks in the weather. Some snow still lingered from the previous month’s big storm in December, which added even more to this one’s cumulative total.
There was a period of at least 24 hours in the midst of it where all of northern Arizona near the Canyon was essentially shut down. Desert View Drive was closed (of course), but Highway 64 to Williams was also closed, in addition to the I-40 for many miles east and west of Flagstaff – for many hours.
So it was impossible to drive in or out of the South Rim Village for about 24 hours.
The majority of tourists cancelled their visits because of the dire warnings, leaving a relative abundance of employees at the rim with a string of impromptu days off.
And so I was able to explore on foot from Rowzer Hall during lulls in the storm for numerous outings.
Sunset at Yavapai Point
The first break in the storm occurred late in the afternoon on January 22nd. I surmised that (maybe) the clouds were breaking enough to get some views of the Canyon, so I set out toward the rim on foot from Rowzer Hall.
This is the condition of the bicycle trail that leads from the Yavapai Lodge to the main Visitor Center.
I’m easily taken in by the opportunity to photograph snow on a desert cactus.
For all the snow it ultimately dumped on the rim, I never saw much accumulation deep in the Canyon. I’ve witnessed other events where the snow goes all the way down to Phantom Ranch, but even then, the accumulation on the rim was never quite like it was this week.
Some clouds blew through my location that obscured the views for the rest of evening, so I walked back to rejoin the party animals at employee housing.
Sunrise at Yavapai Point
I went back out the following morning for sunrise, but the clouds still proved to be too thick to catch any distant views.
A few ravens were happy to keep me company in the desolate silence.
Sunset at Mather Point
The sun finally showed itself this evening when I walked out to Mather Point for more photos of the scene.
Fellow employees walk the road here from Rowzer Hall at Trailer Village to the General Store (I technically lived next door in Brandt by this by this time, but such details don’t really matter).
It was necessary to walk the roads on these outings because all the walking trails were still snowed in, of course, but it was fine because there was little to no traffic.
I’ll never forget how I slipped on the ice and fell hard on my ass! I was on the road shown above, just minutes after walking out my door, when I foolishly wasn’t wearing traction on my shoes and slipped and fell hard.
Have you ever been here before, where you’re so embarrassed at such a thing where you jump right back up as if it never happened? Well that’s exactly what I did, only to take another step and immediately slip and fall right back down! One of my wrists hurt for a few weeks afterward.
While we’re on the subject, I’ll note that the South Rim doesn’t use salt on its roadways, due to its effects wildlife and the environment. You might notice that it tends to draw elk onto the roadways in winter. Instead the Park uses an abundance of volcanic cinders, which linger for weeks after the snow melts and inevitably get drawn indoors on the soles of your shoes.
A roadway near Mather that was still uncleared.
Sunrise in Grand Canyon Village
Eventually things reopened and I was back at work every day, but I first squeezed in one last photo outing. This time I wandered in and around the Grand Canyon Village.
first sun of the day above Lookout Studio
icicles seen out the windows of the Canyon Room in the El Tovar restaurant