First Trip into the Grand Canyon

By: Moromis

Jun 29 2013

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Category: Posts

Aperture:f/6.2
Focal Length:5mm
ISO:100
Shutter:1/400 sec
Camera:FinePix XP60

Yesterday we took our first trip into the Grand Canyon. In the end it was neither too difficult nor too easy. But we’re not at the end yet. You have to start out with me, waking up at 8 to get prepared and arrive up at the rim at 11 a.m. The walk out to the rim was easy. I was prepared, with fresh socks (a second pair in my pack), sunglasses, a headlamp, and some food. And of course, I had water. About a gallon, to be exact. This was how much I had been told I needed, but would later find out was how much one needs to get to the BOTTOM – 5 and 1/2 miles more than we were going.

So we set out; Opa, Adam, Sarah, Dad and I, all with light spirits. Looking out from the south rim of the Grand Canyon, you can see our destination, Indian Gardens. Sure, it looks distant. I ask Adam if he can see the people at the Gardens, and he pretends he can. I can’t, and I know just by this that it is a long ways down.

Now, let me stop here to say that I have already been surprised by the Grand Canyon’s scale, but I expected that. When Dad showed me pictures, I always thought in the back of my mind that I would probably be surprised by the scale. And when I got out to the overlook near the Visitor’s Center on our first visit, I had seen the Kaibab trail and realized that it was indeed much, much larger than I had initially thought. And it boggled my mind.

But today I was hiking it. I began on the first step. Then I went down a few more, then a handful. Finally, I stepped onto the trail. All this was within only a few seconds, and then I began my descent. We passed one arch over the trail near the beginning, in which some overly tame squirrels resided, lounging in the popular first stop in order to get some handouts. I shooed them away and kept walking.

From then on, we passed the second and last arch over the trail. These were the first sights encountered on the way down, and were the rewarding sights that kept us going on the way up. And so we kept walking. I snapped photos the whole way down, marveling more and more at the depth and immensity of the Canyon. What had seemed like a seemingly quick jaunt down from the top turned into a three and a half hour hike. The whole hike one way is four and a half miles, with rest stops that have restrooms and water spigots every one and a half miles. We passed them by on the way down, as we had enough water and there were many people stopping at them.

At the bottom was Indian Springs. The night before, we had decided to hike down at midday, just before the hottest part of the day, wait down at the Springs till dusk, and then hike back up in the cool of the shade. So we soaked our shirts and bandannas and lay down on benches… and waited. It was incredibly peaceful, and we lay underneath an incredibly large aspen tree which provided shade for us and a group talking around the water spigot.

Then, as the sun fell behind the west canyon wall, we began our trip back up. And we began to climb. On the way up, I noticed the elevation change, which is about 3000 feet on way to Indian Gardens, much more. As I began to tire, soon after the first rest stop, I started experiencing vertigo as I looked at the trail but saw the cliff walls to one side or the other in my peripheral vision. At each rest stop I soaked my shirt and bandanna again, and then trudged on again. Since I haven’t hiked at all since last summer, my steps started slowing more and more the higher we got. Eventually we began to stop every two or three hundred feet of vertical climb. I started tracking my progress by how much the sun had set since I had looked behind us as well as how far up we were as compared to the western canyon wall. And finally, climbing the top layer (the white Kaibab), I began to feel the finish. This feeling wore off fairly quickly, only halfway up from the bottom of the layer. From there on, it was pure effort. I didn’t take any more pictures, as the sun had set enough that it wasn’t good lighting. I trudged on, and finally. After having seen the Kolb Studio around a bend and then going through the first, then the second arch, we arrived at the top. Now after coming home and having a good day’s rest, I think I’m ready to go all the way down to the river and back once I have the chance. And after that, I’ll have to attempt going rim to rim (we’ll see if I have enough time off during the summer to do so). I’m also looking forward to doing the hike we did today again, but at a faster clip and stopping to chat with people at the rest stops and Indian Springs.

And after a 9 mile hike with a 3000 foot elevation gain (not counting going down), I hadn’t broken into my half gallon bottle at all. I decided that just meant that I was training for the full trip.

To conclude this tiring, but not too hard journey, here’s some pictures:

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