Saturday, August 20, 2011

Day Fifty-Seven: Down is Optional. Up is Mandatory.

Since we finally decided that we were going to hike the Grand Canyon, we set our alarms for an early start today. It turns out, our alarm was going off for 30 minutes, and we didn't wake up. We woke up to our neighbor packing his tent, and fell back asleep. When we finally woke up, it was like 7:00, which was actually much later than when we wanted to start. And it was another hour to get there. Everything that we read tells you to start before 7:00. Off to a good start!
In the car, we decided which trail we were going to take. One was for experienced hikers (not us) and another was longer, but got you to the same place. We decided to take the shorter one. This was the trail we started yesterday. There was a sign that said "Can you run the Boston Marathon?" (If I qualified for it...) Then it continued with something along the lines of "Well, so-and-so could and she died here". Great...We decided to continue. For the first 4.5 miles, they have water and aid stations. They also have rangers who warned us against continuing today because it was so hot out. At least we were somewhat prepared. We had a gallon of water and some food. There was a family of four from Albania in front of us. They had one water bottle to share between them, the mother and daughter were wearing sandals, and the son kept running down the trail. We told ourselves we would keep an eye on them. At Indian Garden, which is the last aid station, they stopped. They were the smart ones. There was a thermometer that said "This is your brain on sun" and it was at 90 degrees. And we still had another 3 miles to go to get to the Colorado River. We ventured on anyway. This was when we stopped seeing people...We figured that as long as we saw or smelled the mule poop, we were heading in the right direction. The bad part was that you could see the trail all the way down from that spot. It's one thing to know that you have to walk another 3 miles, but when you can see it and tell that it is actually quite far down with all the switch backs, it doesn't look fun. There were a couple of nice little streams along that part to cool off, which definitely helped. We finally reached the bottom, around 12:00. The Colorado River was quite swift today. We took our pictures near it, but didn't want to go in because the signs said that it was dangerous to go in. Don't want any accidents. We spent a few minutes down there and started on the way back. We would've waded in the little spring that was down there, but it was crowded! Go figure!
The way back was not as much fun as the way down. I think we had talked about everything and anything on the way down, so there wasn't much more to say on the way up. We decided that it would be best to just talk in the shady parts and get through the sunny parts. There weren't many shady ones! We passed a couple of people back on the way up. One kid (not really a kid, our age probably) lost the rest of his group. "They were too slow for him." We ended up meeting up with him again back at Indian Garden, so at least he wasn't lost too, but he hadn't seen them yet. I hope it wasn't the couple that we saw farther along and that he was actually behind them... We had lunch there and made acquaintances with another group of hikers. The squirrels are smart there. They definitely knew we had sandwiches! One of them kept trying to jump onto the bench with us. He made it, but we kept startling him when we would jump up! Needless to say, he didn't get any of our sandwiches, or the other group's sunflower seeds. I think the squirrels were bummed about it! Back at the 3-mile rest area, the signs said to wait till 4-4:30ish to keep going since most of the trail is shaded. So we spent some time there, having some snacks and water. We didn't wait quite that long, but knew that we only had 3 more miles to go, so we pressed on. We took short breaks every 10-15 minutes which definitely helped. The trail wasn't really steep, but after 12 miles, it was steep enough! We made some more acquaintances along the way. One group hiked down one side and across the river and back up! Crazy! We got to the point at which we turned around yesterday, so we knew we were close. We basically ran the rest of the way up. Okay, maybe not ran, but were really excited! We made it back to the top around 5:00, so we still had a couple more hours till sunset. We were again going to stay till then, but decided that if we were going to make it to Flagstaff before it got too late, we should get going. We took a few pictures back at the top and went over to the bookstore. I'm glad that we didn't see their best-seller beforehand! It's called: Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon. It has a skeleton laying on the ground of the Canyon, and a nice rainbow going across the sky, as if that helps. Well, we didn't get that book to read.
We then stopped at McDonald's to get some nice salty French Fries. Mmmmm... and headed out towards Flagstaff. Luckily there were only two directions- 30 miles down one road, 30 down another. We did see a bear crossing the road (haven't seen one since Montana, which is a good thing!) We had decided that after that 15 mile hike today, we would get a hotel, which was definitely a good thing, so that's where we are now. Hotel was a great choice! Off to see Annie, Tyler, and Toby tomorrow!

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