How I Fell In Love with the Grand Canyon

Coming back from vacation is rough! It’s rough because you’re sad it’s over and reentering real life is such a bummer. I though everything was supposed to stop when you go on vacation but, it doesn’t and then you come home to a long queue of emails and responsibilities that need attention. Being grown-up stinks sometimes.

About 4 months back I was wrecking my brain trying to come up with an idea for OB’s 40th birthday and finally one day it hit me, the Grand Canyon! Mind you at some point early in our marriage I may have said something along the lines of, “Why would I want to visit a big hole in the desert?” Little did I know I would fall in love with this “big hole” in the desert.

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OB and I spent months preparing for our trip.  Make sure we had all the equipment, clothes and food we needed.  Finally, the day had come and we were Grand Canyon bound. We flew into Phoenix, AZ and drove 3 1/2 hours north to the canyon. It also happens that a cold front decided to arrive with us and on our way up to the canyon we had to pull over in Flagstaff because it started to snow so hard it was a total whiteout.  I knew it could snow but, I wasn’t expecting a storm.

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After a long drive and some appropriately junky road trip snacks, we finally made it to the Mather Campground on the south rim. As soon as we arrived at our campsite we were welcomed by a lovely long-legged lady.

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The itinerary for day one was set up camp, build a fire, gear up for our day hikes the next day and make dinner. Contrary to what it may look like in the picture below he does know what he’s doing.

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The first night was pretty chilly, in fact it got down to 25 degrees and snowed. But, we came prepared and stayed warm and toasty in our tent and sleeping bags. The challenge was getting out of out sleeping bags in the morning.

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Our first day hike was on the South Kaibab Trail. We were told that the South Kaibab Trail has some of the most impressive views and that the trail takes you straight into the canyon. It’s an easy hike down but the steepness of the trail makes it challenging to come back up so, plan on taking twice as long to hike up as it took to hike down.

The description of the trail did not disappoint. The view from the trail head is breathtaking. I couldn’t wait to see what waited further down the trail.

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On our way down the trail I looked over my shoulder to see this amazing view!  Hands down this is may favorite picture of the landscape.

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One mile down we reached Oh Ah Point, the most popular point on the trail, since it the closest to the trail head.  From this point you can see Cedar Ridge, just another 1/2 mile down. This part of the trail was the toughest for me, not because of the trail it self but because it’s on a ridge. If you look you can see people down on the trail. It doesn’t look scary but at about that point there is no canyon wall on either side.  I suffer sometimes from what feels like vertigo when looking down from heights. I paused, took a deep breath, put my head down and just kept chugging along.

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Finally we reached Cedar Ridge, a relatively flat open landing of red dirt, just in time to settle in for lunch. For lunch we packed Pro Bar Meal bars graciously provided by the amazing people at Pro Bar.  These bars are perfect for a hiking trip, chockfull of nutritious goodness, tasty and packed with the calories you need on a long hike.

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Cedar Ridge is full of  not so shy squirrels that used their cuteness to beg for scraps. This little guy came right up to me as soon as he heard my wrapper crumble. I found a whole almond in my bar and shared with the little guy. After that I read a sign warning not to feed the squirrels because they bite and could have fleas that carry the plague. Oh well!

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The next day we planned a day hike on Bright Angel Trail but, about 1/2 a mile down my knee decided to freak out on me and we had to turn around. I can’t express how disappointed and frustrated I felt. We hiked our way back up to the rim and decided to see some sites from up top.

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Even if you’re not someone who is interested in hiking into the canyon there is plenty to do on the rim of the canyon. The park is full of look off points, museums and exhibitions.  There is also a smooth paved trail that runs right along the edge of the rim where you can take in the view without straining yourself.

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On the far east side of the rim is Dessert View. The tower looks like a prehistoric Indian tower but it was built in 1932. From this point you can see the most amazing views including the Painted Dessert and a peak at the Colorado River.

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It also provides the best view-point for the ultimate sunset.

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No matter what you see in these pictures justice can not be done to the spectacular views in person. For the longest time I thought the Grand Canyon was just a hot desert canyon in the middle of nowhere, but it’s so much more.  There is no doubt that we will make a trip back.  We are even hoping to get a backcountry permit and do a hike from the North Rim to South Rim.  I have definitely caught the hiking bug and I’m in love.

 

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