Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Two Granola Bars and a Handful of Raisins Isn’t Enough

I’ve been to the Grand Canyon a few times. The last time when I was 20 with my friend Phil. Back then, we hiked down to the river and back in one day despite the many signs warning against it. Machismo or stupidity? At age 34, the answer is clearly stupidity. Kristi had never seen the Grand Canyon before and was blown away by how ‘grand’ it actually is. That evening we set up camp, we walked the south rim trail at sunset and caught a glimpse of two different groups of elk literally crossing our paths. After I snapped a picture, the big bull elk let it be known he was none too keen with us getting in his way, so we were happy to back off asap.

On day two, we decided to take the Bright Angel Trail as far as our legs would take us. We made it to the relatively lush Indian Gardens towards the bottom of the Canyon, but thought twice about hiking the extra 3 miles to the edge of the plateau, where there’s a clear overlook of the very bottom of the Canyon. While the statistics would say we hiked 9 miles and over a vertical mile, it doesn’t begin to capture the sheer agony of the hike. On the way down, we stopped regularly for pictures and to admire the breath-taking scenery. But once the slog back up began, the pictures sorta stopped. When we were a third of the way up, it became clear that our meager rations did not add up to the “twice as much as you would eat at home” requirements of the hike.

The last 3 miles are rough—it’s steep switchbacks the entire way, with the very last portion filled with flip flop wearing tourists who just wandered down to take a photo—and we really felt wrecked then. We also began reflecting on this trip of ours for the first time in a while, possibly because this was the first part of our trip where we ran into all kinds of tourists from around the world (sorry guy from Pittsburg at the Carlsbad Caverns!), and started to feel far from home for the first time.

1 comment:

Leslie said...

I'm impressed with how far you made it - I've not even tried making it that far. Beautiful picture.
Just so you know my 48 year old friend Ray hiked from South Rim to North Rim in a day - 3 years in a row now.
Maybe we will get our second wind in our 40's!!