Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Day Four: Goin’ Down the Canyon

Saturday morning Scott and I were up at 5:30am to take a shower, and pack. We went to Maswik Lodge for a high protein breakfast, and parked our van at the Backcountry Parking Lot. It was 37 degrees, but very windy so we added a few extra layers. We jumped on the Hikers Shuttle, and drove to the S. Kaibab Trail.

We filled our water bottles (100oz/hiker - no water on the trail), and started downward. When arriving the day prior we hadn't even seen the Canyon because we were so busy preparing for the hike, so this was our first view. Stunning, absolutely stunning.

The trail down to the Colorado River was only 7 ½ miles, but the trail was steep; it was well-groomed and there wasn't one second I felt anxious about the girl’s safety as they hiked ahead of Scott and me.

Yes, Annelies and Paradis were often in front of us. Much of that had to do with me stopping to take pictures along the way. My camera bag was actually heavier than my backpack. When we would ask hikers to take our picture along the way, many would comment, “You brought this heavy thing down here?” I would simply say, “Priorities my friends. Priorities.”

Our mule … I mean Scott … was also most often in the back, because he would have to pull off the trail to fill his pack with all the layers we would shed as we reached the bottom. It started at 37 degrees and windy, but was 67 and sunny at the bottom.

At the beginning of the trail we saw a sign that read, “Enjoy your trip. Don’t get bit.” They weren't referring to rattlesnakes, but squirrels. During the summer months, 7-10 people visit the Park Clinic every day for squirrel bites. Idiots. Complete idiots. However, as Scott caught up with us during one of the breaks, he showed us his hand and said, “A squirrel bit me!”

It wasn't from a squirrel, but from him digging a rock out of the cliff for our Collection Jars! But it was our first injury of the trip, and when we sat down for lunch later that day we realized that the squirrels were definitely way too friendly.

As I mentioned, the trail was well-groomed, but it was very dusty. You had to stay a few feet back from the person in front of you to avoid dust in your eyes. Within 15 minutes our pants and shoes were filled with red soil from the trail.

I took over 250 pictures on the hike down. I can’t even describe what we saw. The Canyon may seem amazing from the top, but your perspective changes on the way down, and you get so see more ‘inner canyons’ as you progress downward.

Within four hours we caught a glimpse of the Colorado River, and we were ecstatic. The hike down was much easier than all of us had originally thought, but at the same time we were ready to reach the bottom. Paradis was the first one down, and waited for us at the tunnel referenced in the blog I mentioned the day previous. We all giggled a little; and no, we did not have to listen to the recording of me reading it during our way down.

We hiked another mile or so, and came to Phantom Ranch where we would be staying for the next two nights. We had reserved four beds in the dorms.

We stopped at the Canteen, and had some lemonade. Scott took a nap, Paradis read a book, and I knit. Annelies you ask? She simply walked around the campground making new friends.

I was surprised by the demographic of people at the bottom; I expected it to be filled with ‘20 something’ hikers. Annelies was the youngest visitor we saw during our stay and we only saw three other kids around her age. Scott and I were among the younger adults. The majority of the hikers were 50-60 years old; when I thought about the fact that you had to reserve the rooms and meals 13 months in advance, I guess it made sense. This isn't a ‘last minute’ dream, you have to be organized and have a lifestyle that allows some flexibility based on the dates that are available the month you call.

The girls picked up a Junior Ranger booklet (even Paradis, as the Phantom Ranch patch and badge aren't handed out to many kids), and we attended a Ranger talk on Grand Canyon Trivia. At 5:00 the dinner bell rang (literally), and we enjoyed a steak dinner with baked potato, corn, peas and a green salad. It was a perfect night, as we made new friends and chatted about our journeys to this majestic part of our country.

Day Four: 0 miles (481 total); $0 on gas ($44.65 total); 0 states (3 total); $172.36 Lodging  ($624.96 total); $0 Souvenirs ($339.29 total); $0 Tourist Traps ($155.80 total); $0 Redbox ($2 total); 0 fights (0 total); 1 injury (1 total)

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