September monsoons in the Canyon!

by Jean on September 9, 2012

August and September are “monsoon season” in Arizona.  You may be laughing to yourself if you think Arizona is all blowing sand dunes and dried up cow skulls.  Arizona is so beautiful and diverse, the high plateaus of almost 9,000 feet (North Rim) and the high meadows around Flagstaff are simply gorgeous and lush.

We have had a true monsoon season this year, even down here in Phoenix.  There is no soil like the midwest, so when it rains the water just runs.   It runs FAST!  Almost everyday there are water rescues, flash floods and enormous thunderstorms.

I took a road trip with a Kansas friend over Labor Day weekend to the GC.  I had not been up to the high country in these wet months.  Flagstaff, oh my gosh, I had no idea that all the meadows and the roadsides were blanketed in endless yellow flowers.  It was such a treat.

It was DD’s first time up at the Grand Canyon and she was shocked at how immense and impressive it was.  We hiked the rim trails a little, but did not venture below the Rim.  It was raining just often and strong enough that I thought about the flash flood chapter in the Death Book and decided we would enjoy the view from the top.  I think we got a new Rim Wrangler out of the weekend, but the twinkling light at night from the North Rim and the explanation that we hike 7 miles PAST that light put a little hesitation in her voice about hiking R2R2R.  We’ll see, the Canyon has a way of seeping into our thoughts and goals.

I’ll post a photo of a switchback we could see from the South Rim.  The people on the trail were smaller than ants, as usual.  The day after we left a man tumbled 20 stories from the South Rim but survived.  He was off trail, one of the dangerous mistakes that we do not ever do!  I read it took 22 people to rescue him in the dark.  And then, there was a story about some Rim to River to Rim overnight hikers who encountered two mountain lions on the Bright Angel Trail around 4:30 AM.   They locked themselves in one of the resthouse bathrooms until other people arrived.  They must have been scared to spend anything longer than 20 seconds in those bathrooms!!

They say that the GC mountain lions are not a danger to humans because of the large amount of deer and elk for them to eat.  I have read there has not been any attacks or fatalities, but the big kittens do watch the humans sometimes.  Yikes.

So, overnight hiking is not on my bucket list.  I will also continue to hike in my big group (especially in the dark) for safety.  And a monsoon trip to the Canyon just to see all the flowers is a new requirement!

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