Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Day 10: Grand Canyon

 I know this national park is called the "Grand Canyon" so we all get a little accustomed to the term, but let me tell you this is one GRAND CANYON.
It may even be the grandest of canyons.
By the end of the day I was the sweatiest of hikers.
And had the most sun-burnt of legs.
But I digress...
We drove up to the Canyon from Flagstaff in the morning, not really knowing what to expect. We were headed for the South Rim, the more popular of the two visitor locations because of its easy access. After navigating three parking lots, two visitor centers, and two shuttle buses we finally arrived at the trail head. The park ranger had given us a recommendation for a day hike and we took his advice without doing much research on our own. When we arrived at the top of the trail, the hike looked much more difficult than we expected. It said that it was "for expert desert hikers only" and the sign gave warnings about a women who died in the canyon of dehydration. Joey and I stood at the top in our sneakers, prepared with a couple bottles of water, and a meager ration of snacks. After riding shuttle buses and navigating crowds of strollers and tour groups, we were ready to get away from people, so we started down the trail despite our lack of experience and supplies.
 The hike took us 2.5 miles down into the canyon with switch backs on the steep side wall. The views of the inside of the canyon were incredible, we had a completely different perspective than from the top rim. The hike offered no shade, and after about an hour in the heat we started to wonder when we would turn around to go back up. It dawned on us that every step we took down into the canyon was another step that we would have to go up on the way back. Glancing up at the top rim was intimidating, we had made it so far down, it was hot as blazes, and the altitude was doing work on my cardio fitness.
 The hike was on the Hermit's Rest trail head and took us to the Santa Maria spring. When we finally arrived at the spring, it was just a little hose draining into a bathtub-like trough. Not quite a bubbling brook, but I don't know what else I expected in the middle of the desert.
The hike ended up taking us exactly three hours, we made it up to the top in exactly as long as it took us to get down. This was probably due to the fact that we were in survival mode and just wanted to moter back up.
The Grand Canyon was completely worth it and we were glad that we took a challenging hike. I wanted to feel like I truly experienced it. If I were ever to go again I would want to backpack and camp on the inside.
This day was a highlight of the trip for sure. 


  1. I'm so jealous of all your vacation photos! They make me think of my time in Arizona. Great posts!