After a week of life at the Indian Village, I hiked out with deteriorating health. Assuming I had simply overdone it on the big walk, I tried to sleep it off.
The big flu came to me on Monday morning and I woke up weak. I got dressed for the hike anyway, hoping the feeling would fade with coffee and breakfast. Maybe I’d get a late start. I don’t recall whether or not I got out the door. This was repeated for the next several mornings, and I passed those days looking out the balcony doors or up at Planty, our houseplant.
Finally, on Friday morning, I made it out the door and down into the canyon for an overnight visit at the Point. The hike was uneventful (other than normal feelings of euphoria that always follow a tough illness) but an incredible sight at the Point when I finally arrived! As I walked down the last stretch of the path connecting the Point to the rest of the Tonto layer, I noticed four people and two condors sitting on the rock. As I got even closer, I realized that the people were unaware of the monstrous birds a mere 30 feet away (and practically in plain sight!) As I passed between the groups of humans and birds, I opened with my standard line:
“Good morning! Have y’all ever seen California Condors before?”
“No, we were hoping that we might!” This was a common reply in winter at the Point. Winter visitors into the Canyon seem, generally speaking, to be more aware than the average tourist. A surprising number of these visitors had clearly done their homework before arriving and knew not only about hiking and camping, but also about the river, dams, geology, condors and tamarisk.
“Believe it or not, there are some within 20 meters of you right now! Unfortunately, I will have to chase them away in just a moment, but if you hurry, you can take a look…”
When the Park helos are occupied the contractors are called in – what a job flying around the Canyon!
Western spiny-lizard, Rock Wrens, Condors, and Canada Geese are just some of the birds you can see in the Canyon!
One cool thing about birding while staying still is that you get to observe everything around you more deeply, which increasingly became the case with the condors like 634. Here, she returned from a day spent doing whatever condors do and tucked into a crevice on her favorite cliff to roost for the night.