10 miles down the red dirt trail, followed by a few hours at camp, and continuing on for another 10 mile hike back up in less than 30 hours — WE MADE IT!!!!
This is just one excerpt of the most recent excursion that my boyfriend and I went on. Monday, June 13 was the day to be exact – where I found myself carrying 35 pounds on my back in the 101 degree, dry Arizona heat. Now, one may think, “How is that possible?” – The answer: Gallons of water, dry food, sugar and energy gels to get the job done. One of the 7 wonders of the world: The Grand Canyon is where this adventure took place. It has always been my dream to vision the Grand Canyon and breath in that steep-sided, smooth canyon air. My previous envisions of my time spent at the Canyon was just at the top; with my camera and a coffee; with my eyes being the storage camera for my brains remembrance. But – that was not the case. My boyfriend and I decided, well, if we were going to take the trip all the way across the country (clearly, we’re from the east coast,) than why not HIKE down, into the canyon to camp and than take the hike back up? So, with all of this being said – that is exactly what we had done. The moment my two feet stepped foot onto the Bright Angel trail, my body filled with deep, deep serenity. My eyes glistened from the shining sun – and my body strutting along the trail. From the start of the first mile, and continuing on to the fourth, fifth and sixth mile marker, my body began to not only slow down – but hate me.
Now, I’ve been on hikes a million different times, have been to the tallest mountains in various states and backpacked around Canada – BUT, this particular trail, in that particular heat was something that I never had done – it was a feeling and sensation that I will never forget. The times that I felt my Merrell’s melting into the red dirt, or feeling like my voice was taken over by the canyon walls – I never gave up. My boyfriend and I are very motivational people, especially when it comes to pushing and motivating each other. So, in this case, in our times of need and desperation, we had to be there for one another and not let either of us fall – we constantly were picking each other up from the rough patches of ‘My feet are killing,’ ‘I wish I had a steak right now,’ I can’t wait to get to camp,’ and so on. In those moments, we would just stop in our spots, and take a deep breath with widening eyes to look at our surroundings. We were actually IN the Grand Canyon. Only being surrounded by those steep canyon walls, we were THERE. Yes, of course, we passed several people within the first 3 miles down, but after that, human life became less and less common. We would see frequent mules pass, lizards, squirrels and deer but other than that – human life was not so common on the trail we had took.
Honestly, by the last mile or so, the thought of setting up camp sounded like an all inclusive, 5 star hotel in the middle of the Caribbean islands. Camp seemed like it was something so far out of our field, that we would never,ever make it. I always remember my boyfriend in my ear saying, “We’re almost at the Colorado River, I can almost hear the rapids.” We had decided to camp on the Campsite directly behind the River – GREAT IDEA, being that at this point, we were SO close to the river – I could smell the campgrounds. As we had gotten closer and closer to the bottom of the canyon, I was already dripping of sweat, grumbly stomach, tiredness and soreness, but the only thing that was running through my mind and body was complete gratitude. Although my expensive Merrells started off as cloud like hiking boots, by the time we had seen the River, I felt as if my feet had fallen off – left at Indian Gardens (a mid-point stop on the trail.) My body and mind were both filled with utter joy and admiration. I still could not believe my eyes – it was as if I had jumped inside a postcard of the Canyon. The views from the top of the Canyon were spectacular but inside, especially the very bottom, the views and sensations were completely euphoric.
Furthermore, as we found our campsite, I’m sure you can guess the first thing that I had done was – Yes, RIP OFF THE BOOTS. And the red dirt at the bottom of the Canyon was my savior. After heating up our dry food, drinking tons of liquid and playing many games of war and palace – it was time to watch and wish on the many stars. My boyfriend and I laid in our tent, looked through the top and still – at that very moment, could not believe our eyes. The most breathtaking, picture perfect memories of mine came from that one night and those moments under those stars. Quickly, falling asleep besides my boyfriend, there I lay dreaming about how my feet are still throbbing, (how would I get up at 4am and do it all again?), and how I am sleeping at the bottom of one of the 7 wonders of the world – Pretty amazing, huh? I think so, too.
Well, continuing on, our alarm is set for 3:30 am, just giving us enough time to pack up camp, eat our breakfast bars, fill up on water and head to the top. Apparently, most individuals who do hike to the bottom of the canyon, usually camp for a minimum of two nights, – but Kyle and I, we decided one night was enough – there were other places we planned on hiking in AZ and we had to do allllll before we headed back to the east coast – besides, we were only staying in Arizona for one week. So, as we packed and were ready for hike #2, it was on. We strapped up our packs, tightened our boots (ouch!) and were on our way. Interestingly enough, we were rejuvenated and feeling ready for this 8 hour hike. Our adrenaline must have been drastically high because we were running on minimal sleep, and food that we really just had each others presence and motivation pushing us.
Kyle and I had started the hike so early that morning because we knew that if we waited any longer, the sun would rise and the heat would start beating (it was supposed to be hotter this day, so the hike up would have been 20x more strenuous). It seems as if when the miles were becoming less and less, and the sun was rising higher and higher, the more times I felt myself stopping and taking looks around and deep breaths in. I didn’t want this experience to end. I didn’t want to have to leave the gorgeous pit of the canyon. This was our home for the night – this is what we have been waiting for. Looking up, down and around every half hour or so made the emotional Tarra sprawl out. I actually felt my body melting into the red dirt this time, I felt my arms and hands grasping onto my Osprey pack – I didn’t want to get to the top – I wanted to stay. The more physical and mental pictures I took just wasn’t enough in that moment – I kept craving more and more. The further up Bright Angel trail we got, the more humans we started to see. Almost everyone we passed seemed to have asked, “Are ya coming from the bottom?” and every time our answer became louder and bolder, “YES!” Their answer back, “God Bless….”
After meeting various people on the hike both down the trail and back up, Kyle and I successfully made it. We saw the T O P! My feet, and toes were doing the happy dance, my shoulders and back were kissing me all over and the only thing I wanted to do at this point was give my boyfriend the biggest smooch and take a look at all that we have just accomplished within the last 26 hours. Feelings of my feet hating me, my eyes too tired to cry, and my fingers swollen from the heat – I only wanted more. We had flown to Arizona not only to accomplish the Grand Canyon, but everything else Sedona had to offer – so that is what we did. For the next 5 days, hiking was all we had preceded to do (aside from the many beers drank and rounds of mini gold played). I wish I could relive that moment again and again because still, I am amazed at the beautiful canyon and all its beauty has to offer.
Here to follow, are some pictures of the Canyon that I took in order to bring you back with me to those moments. I hope you enjoy.