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Monday, October 14, 2002

Sunset Crater and Wupatki

I was sore today. I have been so lazy the last month or two about walking and can really feel it. I decided that it would be better to take it easy today as I knew I would be walking tomorrow. I went north on US-89. There's a lot of buildup since the last time I drove this way, which was about six or seven years ago.

I first stopped at Sunset Crater. The drive to the visitor center was very nice and quiet on a road through the trees. Since I also planned to visit the Grand Canyon and Joshua Tree I decided to go ahead and get the pass, besides it's for a good cause. I stopped several times on the drive to Wupatki to take pictures of the amazing lava flows. I walked some of the short walks but was still too pooped and sore to take the longer hikes which looked very interesting.

Further on I stopped at Wupatki. I had on my Food Conspiracy hat and the ranger at the visitor center recognized it, she'd even been there. It's always fun when that kind of thing happens. I'm not a Jung coincidence junkie but it is fun even though it's also pretty much inevitable with the constant flow of people across the country that we now have.

The view ahead changed from lava a pines to high rim country with great views across the pink landscape. Wupatki had some very nice ruins. There was a pit house and several buildings. Such small rooms. We live in such luxury now compared to how people used to live. I just visited the one ruin because I wanted to get to the Grand Canyon and set up camp well before dark.

I returned to US-89 and drove north twenty miles to AZ-64 where I headed west on AZ-64 to the Grand Canyon. I asked for a site close to the front and could nearly see the entrance station from my campsite which was nice as I could walk out in just a couple minutes.

I walked down to the visitor center only to find that it was no longer the visitor center. They've built a huge new one near Mather Point. You can't drive to the visitor center but have to walk or take the shuttle. They've designed it for the mass transit they have planned for when they close off Grand Canyon Village from all cars except for those who have reservations. I rather like the idea and thought the new visitor center looked nice but it swallowed up the dozen people there late on a Monday in October.

I walked over to Mather Point. You have to cross the highway but they have stop signs and a nice crosswalk. It was nice to look down into the Grand Canyon again. I walked toward Yavapai Point enjoying the shadows of the late afternoon.

The ranger talk that evening was about Shakespeare at the Grand Canyon and while creative, wasn't the best one I've ever heard. Just a little too forced. I went there with a lady I met who had come with a group to hike down to Phantom Ranch. She woke up this morning and just couldn't do it so she stayed on top while the rest went down. All that money she paid and she was too afraid to go. She said she enjoyed just walking around the top though.

Rachel Aschmann 2002.
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