Hayduke 51, 18 miles

Day 51, 18 miles, at viewpoint over the canyon 
I start hiking at 4 am to make sure that I will make it through the closed trail section before 8 am. I only have to cover about 5 miles but I’m not sure how steep the climb is and how slow I’ll be. As it turns out I could have slept another hour but then I would have been worried. 
The trail goes by roaring springs and the waterfalls across the valley are indeed roaring. So much water! 
When I get closer to the north rim there is a helicopter below. I’m impressed with the ability to fly and land in such a narrow canyon. The work crew is walking down past me now and there is another crew doing trail work about 1/3 mile from the rim. I thank them for their work. 
Finally done climbing I lay out my pad in a sunny spot and rest and snack some. There is quite a bit of snow around but the road is dry. Cheetah shows up and then Brenna and Nicole. Cheetah takes off before we do and I hike with Brenna and Nicole on and off for the rest of the day. They’re great company. 
We follow a tiny bit of Arizona Trail to the Point Sublime road and walk in patchy snow. It’s beautiful up here with big ponderosa pines and some aspen. Melt water is streaming all around. Our feet are getting pretty wet but at least we don’t have to worry about running out of water. 

We are chatting away and wondering if the big footprints in the snow are from cows which wouldn’t make sense since we’re still within national park boundaries. Then we see them. A small herd of bison! About a dozen of them are grazing right in front of us! So cool! They’re not as tame as the ones I’ve seen in Yellowstone as they run off as we get closer. 

We continue our roadwalk and find an excellent place to set up camp. We have a great view across the canyon towards the south rim and mountains in the distance. Dinner is on some cool rock formations while we soak up the views. Good times! 

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