The Stories We Could Tell

Grand Canyon

After a 9.5hr drive from San Diego to Williams it was great to have just a 2hr to the Grand Canyon. One of the coolest things about the arrival to the south rim is that you cannot see the canyon until you actually take a 1/2 mile walk from the camp site. So, giddy with anticipation we walked the path and just a few hundred feet before the rim you start to see glimpses through the trees. Then you see it…speechless, breathless, and unable to fully process what lies before you. You are like a computer without enough RAM to process what you are seeing. As many have said – words cannot do it justice. This canyon is most definitely “Grand.” Day one was just a stroll around the rim and plotting our descent for the next day.

Note to future travelers – the Grand Canyon can still be really cold in May (more on this later too). It was 40 degrees with the chilly breeze. Layers, campers, lots of layers. We left Tucker at a kennel (no dogs below the rim) and took a shuttle to South Kaibab trailhead. South Kaibab is one of the maintained trails but a bit less crowded than Bright Angel and offers more of a 180 degree view. The first few steps down the trail elevated the heart rate as there are no handrails or any real safety features (probably to keep it as natural looking as possible). I (James) am not a huge fan of heights so being close to the precipice of a several thousand foot drop produces some unease to say the least. Bria wasn’t much more relaxed, and the signs with the directions on how to deal with the mule teams passing were no help. We took it very slow and deliberate to ensure our first major destination would not be our last! The hardest part was focusing on the steps ahead while the beautiful views of the canyon unfolded before us.

There are several turnaround points on this hike so we decided to play it by ear. We got to the first stop, Cedar Ridge, which is about 1.5 miles down and were feeling a bit more confident about our footing and descending abilities so we decided to keep going. At this point most of the hikers turn around and head up – most of the literature warns you not to go too far since it’s “easy” going downhill (not my words). The ascent is supposed to take twice as long as the descent so most people get into trouble thinking they are fine but start going uphill and realize they have a long steep climb. Now we are not the most physically fit folks but looking at the people around us we felt pretty confident that we could go a bit further.

After another 1.5 miles down we made it to Skeleton Point. We had only seen a few other people this far down and since this was the last major turnaround point we decided a 3 mile uphill hike would be sufficient to completely wipe us out. And it did. Uphill was physically much harder but way easier on the nerves. Falling down means your hands touching the ground to catch your balance not launching downhill trying to skid to a halt before you go over the edge (like we saw one lady almost do). We took several water breaks but made it back up just as fast as we went down. We loved it!

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May 13, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized |

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