Forty hikers explore West Rim of the Grand Canyon

West Rim hikers: Jodi Kreuser, Mary Bubla, Mary Hlushko, Jan Springer, Wendy Berns, Elisabeth Wheeler, Leslie Hawkins, Harriet Pearson. Photo by Elisabeth Wheeler.

Elisabeth Wheeler and Larry Allen

Dramatic viewpoints highlight the eight-mile Rim Trail from Grand Canyon Village to Hermit’s Rest. Forty SaddleBrooke hikers in four groups hiked through pinyon pine and Utah juniper along the South Rim to explore these famous views. Trail Overlook provided the best view of the precipitous Bright Angel Trail which plummets from the village to the Colorado River. Maricopa Point offered a piece of mining history. Just west of the point are the remains of the Orphan Mine, one of the most productive uranium mines in America in the 1950s. Powell Point and Monument are named for John Wesley Powell, the famous explorer who led the first Colorado River expedition through the Grand Canyon in 1869.

Another spectacular view was Hopi Point which extends farther into the canyon than any other overlook. It offers sweeping views that stretch from Vishnu Temple in the east to Havasupai Point in the west. Hopi Point is very popular for viewing sunrise and sunset. Mohave Point was a favorite among the hikers because it offered dramatic views of the Colorado River and a geologic formation called the alligator. Pima Point once held the longest tram in the world. It supplied the luxurious Santa Fe Railroad’s Hermit Camp developed in 1912 at the base of Pima Point, 3000 feet below the rim. At the end of the West Rim Trail many hikers visited the stone building of Hermits Rest designed by Mary Colter and built by the Santa Fe Railroad in 1914. Hikers enjoyed its giant fireplace while sipping hot chocolate and imagining tourists in the early 1900s stopping here on their way down the cobblestone Hermit Trail to Hermit Camp 8.5 miles below the rim.

SaddleBrooke hikers also enjoyed learning about the geology of the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon was created six million years ago. Considering the earth is over four billion years old, six million years seems like a blink of an eye. In reality, northern Arizona was sliced open by the Colorado River. The river has cut downward at a rate of about 6.5 inches per 1,000 years. The Grand Canyon is one of the few places in the world where you can view almost two billion years of Earth history just by glancing up and down. Most of the rocks in the Grand Canyon are sedimentary rocks, which form when sediments such as sand, silt or mud gather in thick layers that, over time, are compressed into rock. It is interesting that the Grand Canyon’s rocks were laid down chronologically, one on top of another. Simply put, it means that the rocks above are younger than the rocks below. When you move your eyes from the rim to the river you are staring back in time.

SaddleBrooke hikers had lots of fun exploring the West Rim Trail viewpoints and learning much of the history of the Grand Canyon. Hike leaders for the West Rim Trail were Susan Hollis, Larry Allen, Don Taylor and Elisabeth Wheeler.