Scrape marks on the slick rock that’s called road, not ours
After the five hour drive over washboard then slick rock road we pulled into a full campground at Toroweap around 5pm.
A fellow camper offered us parking in his large space as rules allow two vehicles per site. He pulled out the next morning.
Had a quick spaghetti dinner then walked the 1 mile (1.6 km) to the Toroweap overlook for sunset.
No disappointment here looking upstream.
Then we boulder hopped along the rim towards the west looking straight down about 3000 feet (914 meters) into the Colorado River.
By the time we got to a good overlook downstream the light was gone, but the view sure wasn’t.
We walked back to camp by flashlight and saw this darkling beetle scurrying across our path. Sure glad it wasn’t one of the many snakes reportedly seen by the camphost.
The next morning after breakfast we walked back to the rim again.
Toroweap sits at an elevation of 4600 feet (1400 meters) on a landform known as the Esplanade, a flat shelf situated about halfway between the coniferous forests of the North Rim and the hot canyon bottom.
A chaparral community thrives in Toroweap Valley with juniper and pinyon, sagebrush and saltbush, Mormon tea and other woody shrubs, and various grasses.
Nearer the Esplanade succulent cacti, yucca, and agave predominate.
At less than one mile across the canyon to the Hualapai Indian Reservation on the South Rim, this is one of narrowest and deepest segments of the inner canyon.
Sandstone bedding planes and erosion
The colorful redrock from the Hermit shale and Supai sandstones to the east…
…contrasts with the black, basaltic lava flows to the west.
More than a dozen times in the last 7 million years lava spilled over the canyon rim damming the Colorado River.
The river eroded these lava dams and continued its downward cutting to where it is now 50 feet (15 meters) deeper than the base of the ancient dams.
As the sun rose higher so did the temperatures.
We just couldn’t hang around during the heat of the day.
So we headed back to camp for lunch in the afternoon shade of a large boulder next to our site.
On the way we saw water pockets in the slick rock. When moisture fills these pools fairy and horseshoe shrimp, tiny frogs and microscopic organisms emerge from the muddy bottoms.
It is important to walk only on the trail as the surrounding ground supports a rare and sensitive crusty black cryptobiotic soil. This complex community of lichens, algae, and bacteria takes years to grow.
After hanging out in camp being lazy all day, we once again headed to the rim for sunset.
I just couldn’t stop taking photos.
Nor did I want to leave.
But in the morning we hit the dusty road for the long drive back.
At least we didn’t end up like this.
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