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Bright angels and other flying things.
Two of the more outstanding things that can be done at the Grand Canyon are seeing the California Condor (the largest bird in the country), which was once thought to be doomed to extinction, and riding a mule down into the canyon floor itself. One thing that you can not do, from all but a few spots in the park, is see the great river that carved this canyon. You can only catch a glimpse, a sparkle or a patch of green, of the Colorado River, and this only at a few places. The best river view is from Desert View, in the eastern end of the canyon.
Our mules await. It is early in the morning, and these animals are already up and saddled. This is one of the prime Grand Canyon experiences. I didn't go. Most mule riders are inexperienced tourists, so these animals (and perhaps the guides as well) have to be carefully selected for patience, and temperament.
Various views of the Bright Angel trail. The view above is looking down on the trail from the rim above, while the views below, and to the left are taken from farther off, showing how the trail twist and turns it's way down. The one mile descent takes seven miles of switchbacks to traverse.
Looking like a scar on the face of the canyon wall, the Bright Angel trail twists back and forth. 
Stopping along the path from Piva Point to Hermit's Rest, provided this great view of the canyon. Many similar views, and much scenery are missed by those who take the shuttle busses from point to point, rather than using the rim walk. Though perhaps it is not such a huge loss. Scenic views and awe inspiring vistas are hardly in short supply here. 
This is a California Condor. Actually, this whole series of photos is of a condor flying over the canyon. From this distance, particularly at this angle, it is easy to confuse this bird with the very common raven of the area. 
The condor is pretty easily recognized, at a distance, by the white markings under it's wings. Closer scrutiny will also reveal the oddly shaped red head, though this can not be discerned from a distance. Condors are sometimes confused with ravens, large numbers of which live in the park.. Though the condor is a much larger bird, distance can often be difficult to judge. 
My last view of this particular condor in flight. Seen in profile, the proportionally small head, and under wing markings  are obvious. 
Mid day begins to cast shadows, and throw the rocks into relief. Haze emphasizes the distance of some of the far off formations. Unfortunately, some of the haze is caused by fires burning far off in Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. This was a bad summer for fires. 
Down the hard cliffs, little slopes of rubble accumulate into permanant structures. This is called a talus, and is seen all over the Southwest, but nowhere are these as large as at the Grand Canyon. The tiny, spire like peak atop the much broader base to the right of the photo is the result of softer rock on top of much harder substances. 
The typical red stepped faces of the Grand canyon. To the left is the canyon wall. the structures out on the canyon were all once part of the rim, before erosion isolated them.
A view from the over view, shown below, at Hermit's Rest.
The End of the trail, at Hermit's Rest. This is as far west as the busses run, though there are trails going farther. Only a very small portion of the rim is served by busses, facilities, or well marked trails. To actually hike along the entire South Rim, is quite an adventure, and would take days.
More views, in various directions, from the "porch" at Hermit's Rest.
The entrance to Hermit's Rest, with it's huge Fireplace. No, that is not the original hermit in the door way, though he certainly looks the part.
Hermit's Rest.
The bowl of a huge amphitheater forms itself near the western edge of the developed portion of the rim. 
The relief of shade, is a very welcome thing our here. The temperatures are high, but the humidity is so low (often in the single digits, as it was during our visit) that you can become overheated and dehydrated without knowing it. 
A view of a tiny portion of the Colorado River as it snakes through the lower channels of the canyon. This view, near Hermit's Rest, is one of the few places where the river shows itself.
This dilapidated trail, was built in the twenties as a road for automobiles. The occasional piece of pavement can still be found. The road was closed in the forties, and allowed to go back to nature. 
Trees frame part of the canyon floor, and a bit of the river peeking out at me. 
The semicircle of the amphitheater reminds me of a hanging valley, but there is certainly no glacial activity here. 

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