Awoke on Friday am around 5:30. Coffee machine in the room was not working. Not a good start. Got dressed, grabbed flashlight and took off on a coffee quest. Found it in the coffee shop in Bright Angel. After spending $5 for 2 cups of coffee, got back to the cabin where my wife was drinking coffee--she had somehow gotten the brewer to work. We proceeded to get ready for our South Kaibab hike, and got to the shuttle stop around 6:30ish. I knew the hikers express ran on the hour, so we'd have to take the regular shuttle and switch busses at the information plaza. We began our hike around 7:15.
We were only going to ooh-aah point, about a mile down. While it's posted there are no signs when you reach the point, it is obvious when you do. The hike down was uneventful. We took our time taking several pictures and moving out of the way for faster hikers. There were even 4 people I'd guess in their early 20's running down the trail. What idiots--it would be so easy to turn an ankle--or worse. Anyway, reached ooh-aah point. What a view. It was totally worth it. When you're above the rim, you can see the magnificance of the canyon. When down in it--even if only a short way, well, I describe it as feeling it's power. Gives you a totally different perspective. Stayed there about 15 minutes taking pictures. Then, back up.
I wouldn't characterize this as a strenuous undertaking, but for us it wasn't necessarily easy. Many experienced hikers would think nothing of it, but we could feel the effects of the altitude, taking several rest stops on the way. Total hike down was about 1/2 hour, so I figured on an hour out. Took only 45 minutes. Glad when we reached the top, we walked to the parking lot, where the shuttle was just pulling up. Perfect timing. It was a great experience.
Switched busses and decided to see Yavapai Point, since we had't been there yet. Started browsing all the info on the canyon, but reralized it now was pushing 10am and we had to get back to check out. Got cleaned up and checked out by 11. We then drove to the market deli to get something to eat, since we had only had trail mix and water. Pretty hungry at this point, we decided to forgo our planned picnic going out the east rim drive, and found a picnic table and ate right then. Then drove back to Yavapai and finished reading about the canyon.
It was now noon and time to start towards Desert View. Couldn't believe the cars at Mather point. Don't know if it was because it was later in the day or beecause it was Friday, but they were lined along the road (both sides)for 3/4 to a mile from Mather point. I'd suggest an early arrival to the park if you want to visit Mather. Anyway, it took us almost 4 hours to drive the east rim, stopping at all the vantage points. It was beautiful. We still can't decide if we had a favorite point--the were all good.
Arrivedd at Deset View and went up the tower. It had started to sprinkle a bit, and when we got to the top, there was a rainbow. We actually were looking down on the rainbow. What an incredible way to remember your last look at the canyon. On to Cameron. We were not hungry, but stopped to see what was there. Nice gift shop, but not someplace that I'd go out of my way to visit. Fine if it fits into your plans though.
Last decision--do we stop at Wupatki and Sunset Crater or just get to Phoenix. I made the call as my wife said it was up to me. Quite tired and knowing we had 3 more hours to drive, I passed. Sorry we missed it, but have decided that next Sedona trip, we'll do a Flagstaff/Museum of Northern Arizona/Wupatki day. Arrived in Phoenix, ate dinner, crashed for the night and flew home the next day.
Overall, it was our best vacation ever. Never have I been so exhausted yet relaxed at the same time. We had no "pool time" or relaxing an reading--we were on the go constantly. It was so refreshing and relaxing that we have decided we're going back. In fact, we've already started to try and figure just how soon we can make that happen. John (Stlcardfan)