John & Anne Wiley

2014/05/16

Small, Clear, Quiet, Hot

Compared with flying across the Grand Canyon the next part of our trip was small, clear, quiet and hot. Smaller because Marble Canyon doesn’t loom nearly as tall above the river. It cuts a deep groove by normal standards, but it tops out at a wide mesa that’s far from the higher cliffs beyond. Still very impressive though.

6676 Up Marble Canyon

6676 Up Marble Canyon

As you can see, the air is clearer. It also looks even more clear because we’re not required to fly so far above the top, so there’s less air between us and the view. The walls are sheer in many places, and quite beautiful.

6737 Shaded River

6737 Shaded River

I like how it looks at this spot, with sand bar and cliffs accented by the cloud shadow and one lit cliff. I have many more pix of this interesting canyon, but to keep this shorter I’ll skip ahead to our stop for the night at the Marble Canyon Airport. That’s the paved runway beyond the dirt road to the foreground buildings left of the river on this side of the highway. Despite the bridge, we were told there’s no way down to the river. The hotel is just across the highway at the base of the first step up cliff left of the bridge.

6837 Marble Cyn Airport L41

6837 Quiet Airport L41

We circled while Zubair landed, then fought heat exhaustion to help each other roll our planes off the taxiway uphill to the tiedowns. We never saw or heard another plane while we were there, nor anyone at the airport. It was so baking hot here at a relatively low elevation that Anne and I decided to pause for a rest in the shade while Zubair and family checked into the hotel. Even under this shelter we sweltered, with only the faintest hint of a breeze even so close to the river.

6783  H O T !

6783  H O T !

Check in was at the store next to the gas station, and the rooms are beyond the right edge of the pic. We were talking about whether to change plans and pay the extra cost of a hotel in Page, when Zubair came to tell us they’d found the rooms unsuitable and were thinking the same thing. As you might imagine, it didn’t take us long to be back in the air! The moment we turned on the big fan at the front end of Tripp, our mood brightened and we relaxed. Zubair was intent on reaching Page asap, but in our much improved state we decided to detour and tour farther up the canyon on our way. Tripp lifted off, and with the windows open we were again able to enjoy the beauty of this place. Boats on the river below the bridge looked cool and colorful.

6777 Different World

6777 Different World

Such a different world perhaps half a mile from where we’d been baking in the heat. We wondered whether the canyon would be as beautiful further up, and in the next installment you can see for yourself. 🙂

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