This year, August in San Diego was sultry and hot. What does that say about San Diego's "Goldilocks" weather? It was downright blistering. To escape these stuffy and sweltering conditions, Jane and I headed to the higher and cooler elevations of the Grand Canyon's north rim. There we found solace in the peaceful surroundings of the Kaibab National Forest and high altitude of the canyon rim.
Our room could have been a bit more spacious, but it was comfortable and quiet. Not that we spent a lot of time in the room, mostly we were on the go. Up early for sunrise shots and out late for some night sky photography. We also spent time traversing Forest Service roads to explore the Kaibab forest with its great stands of ponderosa pine and quaking aspen. The high alpine meadows were a sea of bright orange, purple and yellow wild flowers.
I had never before attempted to photograph the Milky Way galaxy. But, at the north rim of the Grand Canyon, the galaxy with its milky clouds of stars was so inviting, I had to try. After sunset, the evening turns dark quickly and we could easily see and photograph the Milky Way by nine o'clock. Jane thinks the results were remarkable, and I have to agree that the images exceeded my expectations.
Photographically, my highest hope was to get "keeper" images of the celebrated Kaibab squirrel. This little rodent is found only in the forests along the north rim of the Grand Canyon. The difficulty, of course, is to find the little critters in the vastness of the forest and then to have it pose for a picture. I started my quest by asking several park rangers where I should go for best results and did not receive much encouragement. However, I struck pay dirt with the third ranger I approached. This ranger volunteered, after I explained my objective of photographing the Kaibab squirrel, that she had seen three of the tufted-eared, white-tailed mammals in the tree in front of her cabin and provided detailed directions of how to get to the cabin.
Upon arriving, Jane and I quickly discerned movement in the ponderosa pine in front of the cabin. We maneuvered to obtain a better, unobstructed view and observed a white tail dangling among the dark pine branches. Eventually, we discovered a nest made of pine branches and needles built high up in the ponderosa tree. We visited this pine tree with its nest several times and were surprised to discover that there were three young Kaibab squirrels residing in the nest.
Finding this exceptional place to leisurely photograph these energetic rodents was definitely a high point of our short sojourn to the Grand Canyon. Other memorable experiences included our drives into the lush, dense forest, marveling at the intensity of the stars overhead, and peering into the colorful, eroded depth of the canyon.