Published: October 9th 2007July 2nd 1994
In the beginning of our hike, the sun was about to set.
As a child, we stopped briefly at the Grand Canyon. I remember how grand it was. The canyon seemed to go on forever, but more so, I knew it was deep, and I couldn't see the bottom. It seemed beyond life like to me, and I retreated to the safety of our car.
Fast forward, it was summer of 1994, the year of my 20th high school reunion. Part of my vacation was to see old high school chums, the other part of my vacation was to tackle the Grand Canyon. I wondered what it would be like to hike this canyon. Could I pass the "test", or would it test me?
I told friends and family that I wanted to hike the canyon. I didn't know North Rim from South Rim, all I knew is at the end of the day, it was all part of the Grand Canyon. Everyone thought I lost my marbles, but I wanted to prove to myself that I was capable of a nice hike.
It was settled, I decided on the South Rim. After researching the Canyon, I knew why I was scared of it as a child, the South Rim
Wider than the eyes can see
Wide angle view of the Canyon before our descent.
is only a mile deep. We decided that we would set up camp at Indian Garden. To get to our campsite, we'd hike down Bright Angel Trail. The hike from the top of the South Rim down to the Colorado River would be 8.5 miles.
I'd never backpacked with a full pack (weighing about 35 pounds). A full pack did not include all of my clothes, rather it was dry food rations and camping gear that would sustain us for a day and half. My friend carried the water.
We began hiking down the canyon before sunset. Armed with our backpacks and flashlights, we began the easy part of our journey. The hike seemed to go rather quickly and our trail was lit by a full moon. I was in awe at the shadows of the canyon, they seemed to tell their own story.
Even though we carried a small tent, we opted for camping out underneath the stars. The sky was full of stars, something I'd not seen in awhile. I was praying that snakes and scorpions would not share my sleeping bag, so I slept rather light. One of the requirements I had, was a
potty of some sort. Thankfully, our camp ground had a potty.
After a good breakfast, we began our hike to the Colorado River. On the way down, we saw a wild Turkey. My first thought was "Thanksgiving in July". I couldn't believe how skinny wild Turkeys were! They bore no resemblance to "Butterball".
I was hoping to see Big Horn Sheep, but no luck. There are bats, coyotes, skunks, and ringtails which are more common. If you're having "one of those days", you may encounter a bobcat, mountain lion, or a gray fox.
We reached the Colorado River. The cold water felt so good, I sat in the water for awhile, it was like a day at the spa. After an hour or so at the river, we began to head back towards camp.
One thing we knew is not to hike in the middle of the day. Down at the bottom of the rim, it was like an oven.
The next day, we broke camp at 3 a.m. and began our hike up. We would pass by mules, which of course have the right away.
It dawned on me, that while on our
Thanksgiving in July
I caught Tom in the act. What a turkey!
way up, how narrow the trail was. I couldn't believe that a day and half before, we hiked down the same, narrow trail. I really thought we lost our minds! The last 2 miles of the hike, I felt as though I was doing a Grand Canyon shuffle. Hiking became one step at a time, and every 15 minutes, it was stop for a second or two and catch some wind.
By this time, I was having Diet Coke withdrawls, as well as real food withdrawl. I also wanted some real coffee, not the instant stuff. What kept me going was knowing at the top of the rim, would be real food and real drink. One thing I noticed on the way up, bottles of liquor, as well as camping gear were dumped aside. I guess some folks packed too heavily. Lucky my, my friend was an expert hiker, he made sure we packed right, yet light.
It's a great hike, rather breath taking (in more ways than one). The moral of the story is to pack light, drink plenty of water, and wear the best of hiking shoes. Hiking down is a cinch, but hiking up is
The water was cold, but it felt good to take a dip!
a whole other story.
There are more photos below