Published: July 26th 2008July 25th 2008
We survived the 900 mile drive from Austin to Tucson (with a night's stop in El Paso), but just barely. I kid .... but West Texas was a boring, hot, scenery-less ride. Beth slept through most of it. We arrived in Tucson on Saturday night and stayed two nights with Beth's relatives: Aunt Debbie, Uncle John and cousin Chris. It was great to eat some home-cooked meals and relax a little. We did tour a cave outside Tucson, but the highlight of the trip was playing cards with Beth's family on Sunday night. We both had a great time there but more than anything Beth loved getting to spend a few days with her relatives.
On Monday we left for the Grand Canyon. On the way to the Canyon, we decided to have lunch at Sedona. We didn't know much about it, but someone had recommended it. What a pleasant surprise: incredible red rocks surround the town and it has great views everywhere you look. On our way out of Sedona we stopped at Slide Rock, a park Beth had gone to as a kid with her Dad. It has a naturally formed rock water slide in a river.
We both went down it a couple times and it was fun (but a bit painful). Then it was time to head to the Grand Canyon.
That first night at the canyon we went to our campsite (a beauty, #144), set up camp, made dinner, and went to bed. It wasn't until the second day that we actually got to the rim. We were up early and decided to hike into the canyon. After 1.5 miles, we turned around and hiked out before it got too hot. After our hike we went to one of the famous viewpoints then to the visitor's center to listen to a ranger's talk about the geology of the park. After that we rested before going on a driving tour of the best viewpoints. The canyon is really amazing and no words or pictures can do it true justice. We decided to watch the sunset over the canyon and I got lucky beyond just the view. We sat next to a man who was a park regular (and retiring teacher) who talked to me about hiking into the canyon. I was planning on going in the next day and this talk helped me decide to
do the 12-mile Plateau Point hike, which is what I really wanted to do. The park lists it as the most challenging day hike, but he convinced me I could make it. They were both right.
The next day I was up at 5:30 and hiking on the Bright Angel trail by six. The hike starts with 7.5 miles first downhill then flat out to the Plateau Point, but finishes with 4.5 miles uphill out of the canyon and by then the heat is almost unbearable. It was, along with running a marathon, the most demanding physical challenge of my life. The last three hours were pretty much miserable, as I was starting to suffer from heat exhaustion despite drinking what I though was a lot of water. I made it in a little over six hours and then the real fun started. I took the shuttle bus back to our site, and Beth was out touring the park as planned. I laid down and started to get chills, muscle cramps and a headache. I knew from reading that these were the early signs of heat exhaustion, so I just drank as much water as I could. It took a
couple of hours for Beth to return, but I have never been more glad to see her. She said I looked like a ghost, made me lunch and generally took care of me. I didn't feel right again until eight o'clock that night. It was quite an experience, but at least I can say I hiked (almost) to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Beth had a much safer (saner?) time hiking six miles along the rim of the Canyon. She said there were no crowds, great views and opportunites to tour several historical buildings along the way. She highly recommends the Rim Trail. I am not sure what to say about the Bright Angel Trail except drink more water I did or you will suffer. We were up and out of the Grand Canyon on Thursday headed 500 more miles to Anaheim and Disneyland. More later...
There are more photos below