You all know I don’t like to be cold yet received a wintery welcome back at Grand Canyon, again. At 8200 feet the North Rim hasn’t embraced spring by the end of April, or May either sometimes. But it’s so good to be back at the canyon.
I spent two days in Flagstaff stocking up on groceries and visiting a friend while parked at Kit Carson RV Park. The pull-thru site was large, easy to access and still had towering Ponderosa pines to provide shade had I needed it plus a good signal.
The Western Bluebirds attacked all the windows, not usually flying into them but instead landing on an edge. I suspect they were eating the bugs that are still plastered all over the rig from the drive to Flagstaff.
Friday morning’s weather predicted chances of rain and I drove through intermittent sprinkles over the mountain pass north of Flagstaff and across the Painted Desert. Looked wicked up on the Kaibab Plateau but still just a few dribbles and delightful puffy clouds. Then on the last mile flurries of snow swirled briefly. But again the sun came out allowing me the two hours it took to set up the 5th-wheel.
The last 45 miles from Jacob Lake driving through forest and meadows is serene. A little more snow left behind this year, not much, not enough, but more patches than last year and the tiny lakes are full with even a few seasonal ponds/puddles in dips across the green covered karst.
Heavy clouds hung over Transept Canyon before a soft pastel sunset. And a few hours after dark I heard a pattering on the roof, graupel or soft hail-like snow. Then it turned into much needed rain overnight.
Saturday early morning light slid below the heavy laden clouds to highlight select areas on the South Rim canyon walls. I slowly unpacked the chachkies and began to settle in.
It never got very warm in the RV between rain, wind and snow which at first didn’t stick but as the afternoon wore on the ground turned white. The canyon view was replaced by fog. After an hour or so of hard wind and white out conditions the clouds began to swirl in the canyon. Sorry this is not the main canyon, Transept Canyon is a side canyon that I see out the RV window, best place to be on this cold windy day. Get used to this view, we’ll be seeing a lot of it. Pre-sunset the world closed in once again and snow fell steadily. Maybe 1/2 inch by 6:30pm.
Sunday morning sunrise gave color to the dense clouds that worked on breaking up allowing the overnight snowfall to glisten and sparkle. Then by 8am fog drifted up out of the canyon sliding across the plateau while patches of blue allowed light to shine through and the trees began to drip.
In fact the trees seemed to be having a snowball fight with my fortress RV under siege as clumps of snow and ice splated on the roof. The kerplunk of pine cones made me jump every time.
A white veil once again obscured the canyon to the edge of the rim. Better than watching a movie when a brief teasing glimpse of a canyon wall suddenly disappears behind a screen of fog. Sun struggled and lost. Up and down, in and out, the clouds drifted and grew, below the rim and above.
It was cold outside. I hovered over the heater yet my nose grew chilled from the glass windows that drew me to the every changing view. The show continued with shafts of light occasionally highlighting isolated rock framed by drifting clouds.
I thought about dressing in multiple layers, scraping the snow off the truck and driving to the end of the road for the big canyon view but somehow couldn’t get motivated for the cold and wet. Then the sun slipped in and out along with clouds drifting about. Snow melting revealed grasses and damp ruddy pine needles. Small puddles developed along the road where Robins searched out water.
The fog disappeared and the damp walls of the canyon were highlighted by the moisture from both the air and melting snow. Big fluffy clouds sailed swiftly overhead accenting the crisp Arizona blue sky. Then low fog returned with blue above but quickly drifted on.
With the weekend over I’ll be driving 85 miles to Kanab, Utah on Monday and return to the North Rim with one of our newest Rangers. We begin work on Tuesday in preparation for the May 15th opening. Unless we get a whole lot more snow.
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