Thursday, August 19, 2010

Day One: Grand Canyon, North Rim, Thunder River Trail

Bucket List item #271: Hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, and be sure to come back up. CHECK. My brother Tom and his partner Todd are backpacking guides (among other things) for REI. They so kindly  invited us on their "research trip" for the Thunder River trail of the North Rim where they will be taking 5 other groups during September. We were thrilled to be part of the 'scout out the water sources, find the petroglyphs and best camp sites, and how hard can we push these people before they want to die' group. People, they do this for fun. And for money, but mostly because they love it. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity to backpack into one of the natural wonders of the world with legitimate professionals. To say the least, it was an amazing experience.

I can say that now, having spent 3 nights sleeping in my own soft bed. Plus I've taken multiple showers, armed with a razor, being sure not to take one drop of shampoo for granted. But trust me. There were a few moments on this trip where my spirits weren't so high, my body was refusing to cooperate, and my mind could simply not grapple with one more switchback. Our last night in the canyon, I recall laying awake at Deer Creek camp, still thinking about the rattlesnake I passed on the trail but didn't see. Which surprisingly was more disturbing than if I had actually seen it. Unbeknownst to me, the commotion in the tent next door was only Todd being stung by a scorpion. It's unimaginably hot, given that it's 2 o'clock am, and if I take off any more clothing I'm likely to scare away even the gnats. But by that point, the gnats have become a welcome friend simply because they are alive. So there I am sharing this profound connection with gnats because we are both survivors of the canyon, and I'm thinking about this whole adventure being just terrible and wonderful at the same time. I am a princess. So shoot me.
Day ONE, at the trailhead. We look excited and refreshed. We are pansies. We know nothing of what is in front of us. Off we go on the Bill Hall trail towards Monument Point, down the 50 switchbacks, past Crazy Jug Point, toward the esplanade where we stay the first night on the edge of the Red Wall with our first view of the mighty Colorado River below. We took time to find ancient petroglyphs and the natural "tanks" where we could collect and filter water. Blisters? Yes. Heat Exhaustion? Yes. Having fun yet? Yes. Tom and Todd prove to be excellent camp chefs. The stars are beautiful and bright beyond words and we spend the early evening dark splayed out on smooth rocks watching shooting stars and identifying constellations. It was perfect. And then Todd busted out the Peanut M&M's. Then it was perfection.

1 comment:

Mindi said...

i am shaking my head at this--only because:

a: i am a TOTAL princess as well

b: i cannot fathom hiking in that heat

c: you are a rockstar for enduring til the end! way to go, lady---