This morning there were breakfast police monitoring the hotel dining area, but we managed to hide away a couple of bagels for lunch. What is it with these places? Can’t spare a little snack for their guests?
After checking out, we again crossed the Navajo Bridge and stopped to see if any condors were around. Previously they had just roosted on the bridge supports, but maybe we could catch one in flight this time.
There was a ranger present with his antenna and clipboard, recording the comings and goings of the giant birds. He would wave the antenna around to pick up radio signals to determine which birds were in the area. Now this would be a great job.
The ranger wanted the birds to roost on the cliffs so he scattered them from the bridge supports below. Here’s one taking off.
#02 in flight—I told you he was a wide receiver.
Coming in for a landing on the cliff, just as the ranger desired.
After leaving the bridge we hiked the lower end of Cathedral Wash. This is a dry riverbed (at least it was dry when we hiked it) leading to the Colorado River at its end. There is no actual trail so there’s a lot of guesswork in finding the best route. This results in retracing steps from time to time and trying the other side of the channel. The trail was labeled “moderate” but it was among the more challenging trails we faced on our trip.
These photos will give you an idea of the river bed, narrow ledges, rocks to be climbed, etc.
Watch your step. . .
and watch your head. Yes, that is a drop off to Susan’s right.
Which side should we take? The left?
Or the right? Try one—if it doesn’t work, backtrack and try the other.
Proof that we made it to the bottom—the Colorado River.
Not quite ready for the return trip. Time to relax a bit.
The hike back to the trailhead was back uphill but we were more familiar with the riverbed. Also we were wise enough to leave a cairn or two to mark the best way to go, thus eliminating a lot of backtracking. However, there were still rocks to climb and ledges to navigate. Susan called me a goataneer—I would climb up or down and then give her a helping hand (hoof).
Upon reaching the parking area we met two couples from Tucson who just happened to offer us a cold beer. Although it was not quite noon, we took advantage and enjoyed their hospitality.
From Cathedral Wash we proceeded to Lee’s Ferry crossing where a Mr. John Lee operated a ferry from 1873-1928. Prior to the ferry operation Arizona was virtually cut off from the development taking place in Utah by the Colorado River. The Mormon Church realized that a viable river crossing was needed to support their expanding mission, so they sent Mr. Lee south to develop and operate the ferry crossing. This was the only place for hundreds of miles in either direction where the canyon walls go from sheer to mildly sloping, thus enabling wagons and livestock to get to the river’s edge for crossing. The ferry prospered until the early 1900s, and then closed for good in 1928. Unfortunately, the final crossing ended in tragedy as the ferry capsized and three men were killed.
Today the Lee’s Ferry area provides camping, hiking, fishing, and serves as a launch area for Colorado River rafting trips.
Site of ferry crossing (paved launch area in foreground added later)
The Lonely Dell Ranch was the settlement supporting the ferry operation. Perhaps this was Mr. Lee’s home.
Vermillion Cliffs in the background.
After a great lunch of ribeye on bagel, we were ready for the drive to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.