When Mary, our fearless Director of Operations, told me she was hiking the Grand Canyon, I immediately became so, so (supportively) jealous. What a bold & brave & amazing thing to get to do! I asked her to write a blog post to give us all a little inspiration - and her words and photographs are even better than I could have imagined. Add this to my to-do list…
Grand Canyon Blog - March 2017
Looking at the Colorado River
I wasn’t on the original list of people in the 10-person reservation to hike the Grand Canyon, and it really wasn’t convenient or great timing, but when your mom calls and says she needs you… you go. And I am SO glad I did! Plus, when is it ever great timing to be away from family and work for an entire week?!? The adventure called, and I answered. Bonus: spending time with my mom and my bro-in-law, two of my favorite people.
Our fearless leader was my mom. This was her third time doing this hike, and she had great insight. The group included retired teachers and health care workers, a truck mechanic, an engineer, and myself. We had researched the gear required, studied weather reports and hiking blogs, and were as prepared as we could be. Let the adventure begin!
After the rain
Day 1: We knew a storm was moving in, but most of us were from the Pacific NW. What is a little rain to us? We have gear for that! The dramatic clouds moving in from the west with the sun from the east made for some fantastic pictures! We settled into hiking pairs/trios as we got into our strides heading down the South Kaibab trail. I stuck with the 29-year-old (I’m sure he slowed down some for me!) and went a bit faster than I thought I would. I had a cold starting up and was coughing, but what could be better medicine that a lung full of fresh air on a hike? There was no way I was going to let a little cold hold me back.
There had been a lot of rain already this year, and the canyon was greener than any picture I have ever seen of any part of The Grand Canyon. The greenery practically glowed – none of the pictures showed how magnificent the green was against the reds and browns of the layers in the canyon! We also saw some wildlife – squirrels and ravens mostly. The squirrels were not afraid of people and you had to watch your belongings diligently! They would dig into a pack with it sitting right next to you on a water break! They were funny and quite photogenic. We also passed some mule strings taking supplies in and out of the Canyon. The mule riders were a friendly bunch who clearly love what they do.
A mule train!
My hiking buddy and I made it to the banks of the Colorado River before the rain hit. It only lasted about 20 minutes, but it was a drencher! It made everything smell so good! Then it passed and the sun came out again. Glorious! We ventured out to continue the trail to Phantom Ranch. We had another 20-minute walk along the Colorado River, then the trail turned up the Bright Angel Creek toward the ranch. The remaining members of our group joined us about half an hour after we arrived, and we were shown our 10-person cabin (5 sets of bunkbeds) and had a well-deserved dinner. The soreness was already setting in by dinner time and we were exhausted, so we all fell into our bunks after dinner – it was barely dark!
Day 2: Our day of rest in the canyon. We took short walks to help loosen our sore muscles and took more pictures, played cards and read. My cold had seriously set in by this point, but I found some decongestants stashed in my first aid kit. Halleluiah!! Always pack a couple of things ‘just in case’ in that first aid kit, folks. It rained a bit that day, but not all day rains like we have in the PNW, so we put on our jackets and ventured out anyway!
Day 3: We were up early, breakfasted, and set out just as the sun was coming up. We knew this would be a tough day coming out. The hiking pants I had purchased for the trip weren’t working as well as I had hoped on day 1, so I wore my Sweet Spot Skirts calf length tights with a Groovy Girl Teal skirt. So comfortable! Why did I think I needed official ‘hiking pants’? The clothes I wear to work every day are the most comfortable, and I know them well. Stick with what you know, and try everything out beforehand when embarking on an adventure such as this!
We hiked out on the Bright Angel Trail, which is a slightly longer hike than day 1, but it takes us through Indian Springs which was well worth it. The trees were in bloom, and it was a gorgeous sunny day. Indian Springs was the perfect place to stop for a lunch break and refill our water bottles. We had the opportunity to talk to some mule riders about their jobs and the mules, which was fun. The mules are well-loved and taken care of! They are mild-mannered and sweet, and, per the riders, smarter than horses.
After lunch, we began the tougher portion of the hike on the switchbacks up the south cliff. Still coughing, my lungs were burning, but there was only one way to get yourself out of the canyon: Keep putting one foot in front of the other! We took more frequent breaks to catch our breath and take drinks of water. We made it out of the canyon by 4:30 and took a group pic before saying our goodbyes and heading our separate ways. First thing my mom and I did was head for baths! There is nothing like sitting in a hot bath when your muscles are that sore!
I know now that I am capable of hard things. Being a wife and a mother, I thought I had done hard things. Nothing can truly prepare you for a physically tough adventure like this other than experience. It was completely worth it, and now I want to plan another multi-day hike! Who is with me? See you on the trails!