23 March 2009

Spring Break @ The Grand Canyon

While all of you guys were out gallavanting across the country, going to New York, Mexico, California, or elsewhere, I went on my own little Spring Break trip this past Thursday/Friday up to the Grand Canyon. It had been many, many years since I last went there, and this time I was able to do more than look at the big hole in the ground. Now that I've gotten into geocaching, there were a few "virtual" geocaches up there for me to find, so I hiked around the west portion of the South Rim collecting my finds.For those who know not, a Virtual Cache is one in which there is no physical box or treasure to be found. Instead, there are usually some amazing views, scenery, or other interesting features which the person who "placed" the cache wanted to share with other geocachers. In such instances, instead of logging a log book, as in other caches, the cache finder has to prove they were at a site by giving some specific information found only at that area and taking a photo at the site of them and their GPSr. The photo above is me at one location, where I had to take a photo and then email the cache owner information found on a US Dept. of Agriculture Survery Disk at "the Abyss" in the Canyon. The disk itself is below. I had to email the elevation of the disk (6,893.52 feet) and the location mark (241 + 28,74).After finding that cache, I went and found two others within a couple miles hiking distance. I never knew some of this stuff was out there! The Abyss (where the survey disk was) has some great views of the canyon and the Colorado river - it's essentially a sheer cliff face with a dropoff of 3000' or so. Near there, there's a monument to J.W. Powell, the first person to explore the canyon itself back in 1869 and then again in 1872 with a group of companions and some river boats. Also near the monument there are two other interesting features. One is a plaque by the Flagstaff Freemason lodge commemorating the conferring of the 3rd degree of Masonry by the Phoenix lodge back in 1913 at the Powell Monument. The other is an abandoned and closed down enriched Uranium mine. Apparently back in 1893, a prospector found copper in the area and opened the mine. After a while though, he found difficulty getting the ore out of the canyon itself, and the mine was closed. Fast forward to 1951: scientists found uranium at the mine, and reopened it to obtain materials for the Cold War arms race. By 1969, the ore had been mined out, and 19 years later, the parks service gained control of the mine. They're currently in the process of soils testing, and if that passes, trails may be routed near the area so people can see the abandoned mine. Pic below is me at Powell's monument.The third and final cache I found at the canyon was a virtual cache at Mojave Point, a jut of rock overlooking the Colorado River, which you can see below. It started getting darker by this point, and windy, so we ended up calling it a night and catching the bus back to El Tovar Hotel.
While I geocache, I like to take time to write my thoughts down to share later on my blog or other assorted social sites. My mom captured this photo of me at The Abyss being thoughtful and relaxed writing.
You know, though, the day after I got home from the Canyon, I found that a new geocache had been published just outside the park boundaries. So now I can't wait to go back and find this new physical cache!


  1. I'm glad to hear you had a great time on your "spring break" Andrew! Geocaching is something I hope to get more involved in one day. It just sounds like so much fun, with enough mystery and excitement to keep you wanting to find or visit new places.