Cross Country Tripping: Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park, July 18-19, 2011

We drove from Las Vegas, Nevada to our campground in the Grand Canyon National Park on July 17th. We were tired and sad because the women’s national soccer team had lost the World Cup that morning (okay, I was sad) but we built the tent and a fire, made dinner and settled in for the evening.

I had a hard time waking up the morning after our Vegas-venture (stay tuned for a Las Vegas post!), but we managed to make it out of our campground with a hiking plan in mind before 9:30 in the morning. I packed our trip’s itinerary with so much driving and sightseeing that sometimes we had to catch up on sleeping. We headed for the South Kaibab Trail, parked the van at a viewing point on the South Rim and walked a mile on the Rim Trail before beginning our descent into the canyon.

Before we’d gone more than a few tenths of a mile into the canyon, we ran into a park ranger. At this point one of the most humorous interactions with a stranger we had on our trip occurred. The ranger asked us how deep we were planning to go. When we told him our destination was Skeleton Point, about three miles away, he literally gasped and vehemently urged us to change our plan. He informed us that we should have started earlier in the day and carried about ten times more water than we had with us. He also told us that 20-30 hikers were rescued from the canyon every day in the summer due to heat exhaustion and sometimes more serious afflictions. and that we should only venture that far into the canyon later in the day.

Well, Brian, perhaps predictably, took this as a challenge. He let me know in no uncertain terms (after we’d left the ranger and continued on our way) that we’d be hiking to Skeleton Point and that we’d be fine. We both felt determined to at least venture past the recommended stopping point, Cedar Point, and then to see how we felt as we continued.

It was a cloudy day, which was lucky, and though the ranger told us it would reach 108 degrees, it didn’t feel too hot. And, of course, going down is much easier than going up (at least in this case… it’s not always so: see my Badlands post). We made it to Cedar Point and rested. Then, despite my half-hearted protests, we decided to continue on to Skeleton Point. It was tough, dusty, rocky, and mule-excrement ridden, but we saw a large lizard and it was a very exciting hike.

AND THEN WE MADE IT!

The hike up was strenuous. I wanted to play 20 Questions for distraction but Brian said we needed to conserve strength and water and all that logical stuff. A half mile from the top I wanted to quit, but we made it!

We had lunch and bought souvenirs; Brian bought me a present, the loveliest little silver ring. I bought some gifts for my aunt and uncle, my mom and dad and my friend Elisabeth. We also bought a pack of cards; we’d been collecting a pack from each place we stopped (stay tuned for culminating photos of the collection).

That evening, we made a fire, drank wine we’d planned to give to friends, had a good talk and a better night’s sleep. The next morning we headed to Grand Junction, Colorado for a stop on the way to Denver!

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