Waking up at the Grand Canyon to start our first full day in the park meant getting up early for some sunrise shots. The forecast was iffy, so we weren’t sure if we’d see any sun that early, but I was willing to try in spite of the snow showers lingering from the night before.
The best part of shooting sunrises in winter is getting to sleep in a little later than you would for a summer sunrise. Yay short days and long nights! Sure, the cold isn’t fun, but that’s the trade-off. I also find the cold scares a lot of people off, so I have a better chance of shooting what I want, from an angle I want, without crowds.
On this particular morning, my impressions of the Grand Canyon started to improve and line up more with my expectations. The weather wasn’t ideal, but with a hint of sunlight brightening the clouds of the snow squall moving through just before the sun broke the horizon, I had a funky blueish, moody light to start the day. If nothing else, we could see a lot more of the Canyon than I could the previous afternoon when we arrived!
Knowing I’d have 2 more mornings to hope for better weather, we didn’t stay out long. What started as snow showers turned into a wind-driven snow/sleet combo that stung as it hit your face. It also meant a lot of lens cleaning, so that was it for the day’s sunrise shooting session.
We bugged out and warmed-up over breakfast, then set back out to check out trail conditions and ease our way into whatever we were going to make of the day. All it took was a few hours after sunrise for the weather to start clearing and yes – the angels finally started singing and the Canyon looked like what I had imagined, and far surpassed any expectation I had of it!
Our day found us keeping it simple by hanging out and taking a long walk around the trail along the South Rim. It seemed like every few feet when I stopped to take a peek, my jaw dropped further and further in amazement of the geological feat in front of me.
Though I took a fair number of pictures that morning, when I got home and sorted through my shots, I realized that so many of them looked the same. Then it dawned on me – even though we walked probably 3 miles or so along the rim, the Canyon is just so big that changing your viewpoint by a mile or two doesn’t drastically affect the perspective in a picture! The only things really changing were the clouds in the sky and the shadows on the ridges in the Canyon. Still, I couldn’t complain because it’s just stunning to see.
After our morning spent along the rim, we wandered into the woods and walked some of the greenways that cut through the park connecting different parts of Grand Canyon Village. Under normal circumstances, when the government is operating (argh shutdown!), you can rent bikes to cruise all over the Village along these pathways through groves of ponderosa pines and junipers. It made for a nice wintry walk to bookend our day.
As we wandered back to our lodge, we passed the Grand Canyon’s train station. The Grand Canyon Railway has a long history – predating the establishment of the park itself!
We didn’t ride the train, but it was parked at the station, having recently arrived for the day’s trip up from Williams, AZ about 65 miles away. Maybe next trip to the Grand Canyon we’ll go for a ride ourselves.
With our first full day at the park nearing an end, we called it a day. Tomorrow was shaping up to be a long one since we planned to get down into the Canyon as long as weather and trail conditions cooperated.