Journal Entry October 19th, 2021
Hiking into the Grand Canyon is not all downhill. We watched the sunrise over the North Rim, it was as breathtaking as the sunset. The day is fresh and new. As we descend the rim it gets noticeably warmer. Sweet relief. I have it in my head we can get to Bright Angel campground in time to swim at the base. I quickly realize that the 14 miles will in fact take all day. The trail winds down the canyon and each turn of the switchback promises another amazing view. Bobby’s recording the hike, I’m suddenly so worried he’s going to fall. “Baby, be really careful” I frantically tell him. He calms me with a look and says, “I’m looking where I step, not at the camera” I take a deep breath to calm my fears. There are parts of the trail that feel scarier than others. A ledge cut into the side of a canyon. I hug the side of the trail and hike with a slight tilt, leaning to the side of the canyon wall.
We hike 5 miles into the canyon and the trail begins to open up. It feels as though we are hiking across the base of the canyon. It’s slightly downhill going but for the most part the trek is hard and hot. The whole world has changed colors down here. The rocks are a deep dark red, the dirt a coppery red to match. “Look baby” I point, it’s the first cactus on trail we’ve seen. Everywhere we look is bare craggy mountains. Dry long tuffs of grass reach up towards the sun standing stock still. We started in pine snowy forests, yet here it is the desert, a promise of what lays ahead on this trail. We pass a river, an oasis in this desert land. “I’m going to jump in” Bobby grins. As he looks for a place to dunk I spot a Ranger hiking towards us. “Baby wait” I’m scared of getting in trouble, though why I have no idea. Perhaps the water is sacred? It’s not of course, when we meet Ranger Emily Bobby awkwardly asks to video her. “Where is this going, on your instagram or something?” she asks, embarrassed and concerned. “Yeah something like that, we’re nobody though so don’t worry” He laughs. We never did jump in the water.
We are at camp when we see runners we saw hiking up to the north rim earlier that day. They are running rim to rim to rim. What the hell. “Can you imagine?” Bobby and I say almost at once. We watch them run until they disappear from view. Seeing them makes me feel inadequate and inspired all at once.
“I want to do that” I tell Bobby. He smiles, “Yeah, Me too”.
The Next Day…
We hike out of the Grand Canyon. I’m nervous about the heat so we leave camp at 6am. They tell you to bring extra water so we each pack 3 liters just to be sure. We’re almost out of food so the water doesn’t feel too heavy. We hike towards the beach. The Canyon opens up to reveal the Colorado river. The canyon is canyons within canyons. I guess that’s why it’s called the… We stop for a moment to catch the sunrise over the river. It doesn’t exactly rise here, its more like everything slowly becomes light. The river is vast and moving gently, the beach spans one side of the bank, the other is a shear canyon wall.
The hike out of the Canyon is brutal but we stop often to take in the views. A caravan of mules pass us, we step off trail, the only place to go being the hill side of the trail. It feels slightly claustrophobic with such a small trail so we sit down. The team of mules is led by a woman and a man with a white bushy mustache takes up the rear. They are dressed in the truest form of a cowboy from the west. A slight dust has settled on their clothes, and the smell of manure follows the entourage. The mules carry canvas saddle bags. They’re old, dirty, and loaded with supplies. From our vantage point we watch the caravan descend the switchback below us. We’re left with the bits of dust as it settles around us and the feeling that not much has changed here in the Grand Canyon.
The rock is still red yet it has changed. Somehow everything looks slightly off. We pass some hikers, “Did they look green to you?” we ask each other. Perhaps something with the red rock and earth makes everything look off but It’s like looking at the world through a very light green filter. It makes our skin look a sickly shade. It is the strangest thing.
The trail out of the canyon is just as intimating as the hike in. A ledge cut out of a mountainside with a view that goes as far as the eye can see. Each time we reach the top of a plateau it becomes only another layer to an even larger canyon. The views are beyond incredible.
Again runners pass us running down the South Rim. It must be the season for attempting a run through the Grand Canyon. I’m only slightly annoyed, “Yeah, that is defiantly going on my list”. We reach the top with a liter of water left, guess we packed heavy. Another lesson learned. It’s frigid at the top again. Our sweaty clothes start to chill us as we hurriedly unpack our jackets and hat. “Now, we just have to make it to Flagstaff” Bobby says.
I answer, “Yes, But first beer”.