Grand Canyon 2012
Some of you may remember that last year, for my very first backpacking adventure ever, I decided to take on the Grand Canyon. It was one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced. If you’d like to read about it, it took me three lengthy posts to document it.
This year, when my hiking group’s fearless leader, Roger, managed to get another five day permit and asked me if I’d like to participate again, I did not hesitate to say yes!
Cute was also extended an invitation and came along with me this year. I am very glad he did. Not just for his company, but the great help he was to me. My knees have steadily been getting worse and worse. I don’t know what’s wrong with them, I haven’t been to a doctor, but they hurt – especially when I hike downhill. The first two days of the Rim to Rim Grand Canyon hike are spent going straight down. I knew I would struggle, but I had no idea how bad. On the second day of hiking downhill my knees left me practically limping down the trail. Cute ended up taking the majority of the weight from my pack to help ease the strain. Which resulted in my pack weighing a mere 16 lbs, while his was around 56 lbs! I can’t begin to explain how much this helped me and how grateful I was, and still am, to him.
When we reached Phantom Ranch after that second day, I think it’s safe to say we were both exhausted but relieved to know that we would have a full day to recuperate in the cool stream before beginning the ascent back out of the canyon.
When the morning rolled around to begin the second leg of our journey, the one that would lead us back out of the canyon, I felt rested and thrilled to be hiking uphill. My knees do well uphill. It’s the strangest thing!
One of the most magical parts of the Grand Canyon for our hiking group has always been Plateau Point. Plateau Point is an overlook point about a mile and a half outside of our last campsite, Indian Gardens. Overlook doesn’t do it justice. It is the point where you are finally able to grasp the magnitude of just how enormous the Grand Canyon is as well as how insignificant you are in comparison. It is possibly the most spiritual place I can envision existing, ever. From this vantage point you can see the canyon in the most delicious of ways. Laid out before you is the entire journey, from where we started to where we still needed to go. It’s simply amazing. We eat dinner at this point each year. But this year, almost on cue, as we are eating our dinner and enjoying the breath taking views, two Condors swooped past and gave us a show. I couldn’t believe it. There are only around 200 wild Condors in existence and we got to see two of them. Hollywood couldn’t have timed their appearance any better.
Since this was my second time at Plateau Point I knew what to expect. I told Cute I wanted to stay out there and watch the sunset then hike back to camp using our headlamps, but I was not the only one with this idea. While Cute and I sat watching the sunset, behind us a proposal of two of our fellow hikers was taking place. Randy proposed to Breeanna. It was so sweet. We quickly congratulated them and left them enjoy their moment without us there.
The last day in the Grand Canyon we get up before the sun to tear down camp and start on the steep hike out before the heat of the day makes it unbearable. The canyon is so beautiful at this time. Watching the rim slowly light up and darkness slip away is poetic. The darkness before the dawn.
Hiking out is cathartic. As you climb out the view of where you have been becomes more and more clear. The magnitude of what you were a part of is intoxicating. I love the hike out. I am always sad to be leaving but so incredibly proud of myself for completing it and finishing strong.
Once our group reaches the top we always take a group photo and eat an amazing breakfast together (one that doesn’t consist of freeze dried food!). This year my parents met us at the South Rim and were there to take our group photo.
I would like to say a loud, public, “THANK YOU!” to our group lead, and my good friend, Roger Green. He is the sole reason we were able to do this trip. He puts in for the permits, plans the trip, organizes us, and makes sure we are all safe. I love him dearly and am so grateful to him for allowing me to experience the Grand Canyon, twice! When I was saying my goodbye to him at the South Rim he informed me that this trip was going to be his last Rim to Rim Grand Canyon trip. I am so happy to have been on it with him and proud to know this strong man.
To see more pictures from my trip, including pictures of the “elusive” Grand Canyon Pink Rattle snake (we saw TWO of them!) and me being the nerd that I am, check out my Flickr page.
Also, a special “Thank you” to my parents for driving to the South Rim to pick Cute and me up, take us to Bryce National Park, stay in a seedy hotel, watch the solar eclipse, and drive all night to get back home in time to work the next day. You guys are the best!