The drive to the North Rim took us across a flat plain at 3210 feet with beautiful Vermilion cliffs on our right. We found out later that it is from a point on these cliffs that the condors born in captivity are launched when they are old enough to go to the wild. Passing the cliffs we turned left and started to climb. The North Rim average altitude is 8500 feet.
In the Kaibab National Forest's North Ranger District just prior to reaching the boundary of the North Rim we passed a large burned area. In the summer of 2006 lightning started a blaze named the "Warm Fire" which the Forest Service monitored and lightly managed for two and a half weeks while it burned approximately 19,000 acres. However, it then grew beyond the boundaries deemed acceptable by the agency, and the Forest Service changed to a suppression strategy. At that point the fire burned destructively hot for nine more days consuming 39,100 more acres before the Forest Service could contain it. Rehabilitation efforts began immediately and continue to the present.
Once within Park boundary the landscape was lush with evergreen trees and the changing aspens, a spectacular sight. At the entrance and also at the campground check-in we were greeted with the sign "campground full". But it really wasn't; we saw many empty spaces night after night. Alan and Gill Sargent, another HitchHiker couple, were there to greet us. The weather was cooler but still lovely.
Over the course of our four days at the North Rim we had some wonderful adventures. One day was a field trip to Point Imperial, at 8803 feet, the highest viewpoint at the North Rim. We stopped at Vista Encantada, then Roosevelt Point, then the Walhalla Glades Overlook. One of the lowest elevations on the North Rim, this overlook has views of the Unkar Delta, a fertile region used by Ancestral Puebloans as farmland. These ancient people also gathered food and hunted game on the North Rim. A flat path leads to the remains of the Walhalla Glades Pueblo, which was inhabited from 1050 to 1150. There are the remnants of six rooms that were common to most structures of the Pueblo period.
The final stop was at Cape Royal where the road ended. We ate lunch by the wedding site where the bride and groom stand on the very edge of the rim for the ceremony. The point is also the site of Angels Window, a hole in the rocks through which you can see the Colorado River.
Gill and Alan and we hiked the Transept Trail from the campground to the Grand Canyon Lodge. We had happy hours and campfires. We attended two park ranger programs: Flashback-a Glimpse of History of the North Rim and Condor Talk. Both were excellent. We also enjoyed The Grand Canyon Cookout Experience, an all-you-can-eat buffet with a live country-western show. The entertainers, Woodie and Cleda Jane, sang songs, told stories, told jokes and did one magic trick. The food was good. Woodie and Cleda Jane were very entertaining. Cleda Jane told us after the show that their material was screened by the park service so they had to do the same show every night. And they had been doing this show from June 1 until the next night, September 30.
While camping there a big Pacific storm blew through. It was very interesting to watch. The sky darkened, the wind blew, it poured, there was some thunder and lightning. And then it got cold. It had been rather chilly in the evenings anyway but this was really cold. We had been running our propane powered heater buddy that was certified for safe indoor use with a window cracked. The third night of use, our carbon monoxide detector went off about 2:30 AM. We actually have 2 detectors and it was the original one that sounded. The other was mounted near the heater but on the ceiling, not a good place, since carbon monoxide is heavier than air. But that one is a digital read-out and it was reading 51 parts per million. One dies at 100 parts. Quick-thinking Richard turned the heater buddy off, turned on the ceiling vents and opened the windows. Then he checked on me. I was still sound asleep even though the alarm was going off right next to my side of the bed. He wondered: "Is she alive?" Obviously I was and am. I am just a sound sleeper. We now have another digital read-out detector for mounting lower in the rv and we won't leave the heater buddy on at night anymore.