After birding pretty intensely for the last week, I made some impromptu plans with a friend to explore a national park. She picked the Grand Canyon, and soon I picked her up from the airport in Arizona, and we drove up to the Grand Canyon expecting an adventure... and we found one!

I would have laughed at this sign any other day...

I would have laughed at this sign any other day...

Bad weather caused people to bail on their camping plans, and a last-minute campsite opened up at the bottom of the Grand Canyon at Bright Angel Campground. Hiking the Grand Canyon was on both of our bucket lists, but honestly I was content hiking around the rim of this massive Earth hole, and not actually down to the bottom of it. But, she insisted we do it, and I did what any friend would do: nod in agreement and say, "Let's go for it". 

We began our decent in the rain. Freezing rain, that turned to hail. Then it turned to snow. We both were soaked. Mini falls cascaded down the trail the lower in elevation we hiked. The runoff flowed over the red rocks, staining the water a rich coffee-with-creme color. I was glad I wore my Xtratuff boots. Having an optimistic hiking partner helped keep my spirits up, as I contemplated the actual possibility of seeing a condor in the Canyon.

We made it to our campsite in about 3.5 hours, and made dinner and prepped for the hike out the next day. 

The following morning, we began the hike out at dawn.  More weather was expected, and we set our goal to be out by 10:45, which we accomplished. I stopped many times to scan the cliffs for California Condors, and had one pretty good sighting of a dark bird flying directly at me with wings folded and a noticeable white collar around the neck- but my view through binoculars was too brief to confirm the identification and count the bird, before it dropped below the canyon rim and perched inside a cave. 

What a beautiful world we live in.

What a beautiful world we live in.

Beautiful morning light on the hike out from Bright Angel Campground at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Check that one off the bucket list! 

Beautiful morning light on the hike out from Bright Angel Campground at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Check that one off the bucket list! 

Time for Condors to come out! Vultures, a Peregrine, and Lazuli Bunting all were easily spotted!

Time for Condors to come out! Vultures, a Peregrine, and Lazuli Bunting all were easily spotted!

In high spirits on the 9+ mile hike back to the rim! 

In high spirits on the 9+ mile hike back to the rim! 

A ground squirrel seeks handouts along the trail... it went hungry. 

A ground squirrel seeks handouts along the trail... it went hungry.