Two weekends ago Aaron and I met in Phoenix to hike the Grand Canyon. After making the acquaintance of the poop-eating dog and watching a stranger blow up Aaron’s ego by telling her friend “Look, it’s Chris Daughtry” we headed north to the park. My all-time record for rim-to-river-and-back hikes stood at something like 4-2 when we started (hiking in the heat is not my strong point), but we set off on the 16-mile round-trip with tons of Gatorade and confidence brimming.
Before continuing the story, for anyone visiting the Grand Canyon don’t try to hike down and back in a single day. The park warns against doing this hike for a reason, but Aaron and I are both in pretty good physical condition, and more relevant, we’re both stupid people.
The route we chose took us down the Kaibob Trail to the Colorado River and then along the river before we started back up the Bright Angel trail. This is where things got interesting. Nature decided that ascending five thousand vertical feet wasn’t enough of a challenge, so she threw temperatures at us that were twenty degrees above normal. Hiking through the desert, uphill, when it’s 105 degrees in the sun isn’t an ideal scenario for someone who likes to vacation in Alaska and the Antarctic. Aaron and I were both suffering by the time we got back to the top, but sadly I was the one in worse shape. Despite having to stop frequently to rest my spasming quads this one will go into the books as a draw, which puts the current all-time record at 4-2-1. Next time, however, we’ll go in March when it’s guaranteed to be cooler, hike it twice, and put two more ticks in the win column.
Aaron & the Grand Canyon.
Grand Canyon, 8:00 AM. The trail is visible in the bottom left.
Aaron, looking beastly, during the Grand Canyon descent.
Did you ever try to take a picture of something nice only to realize you got some idiot, airborne, in the shot?
Aaron and I during the descent. This is before it got blazingly hot and smiling was no longer an option.
U2’s “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” seems to be the theme for this trip, and I had it on repeat for about four hours while driving through the desert east of Joshua Tree. I decided to take the secondary roads instead of the interstate, and it was a good choice — the desert out there is the type of place where time and distance blur, such that you don’t know if you’ve been traveling for one hour or six, and it was a good time to think.
By the time I reached the Grand Canyon clouds had set in, but I still managed a bit of hiking. I’m hoping to hike the Kaibab trail tomorrow, although the forecast is for rain, which wouldn’t be ideal. My eating habits have been abysmal thus far on the trip, but tonight I decided that the possibility of a tough hike warranted a good dinner. Stopping at a cafeteria I discovered that the old Mexican woman manning the “South of the Border” station was totally hooking people up with the portions — plates were literally overflowing when she handed them back. The drool was probably evident by the time I got to the front of the line, at which point a Thai girl stepped in to take my order and made me a burrito the size of an egg roll; the Gods continue to mock me.
In other news, I shaved the dome again today. In the span of four days I’ve gone from being a guy whose hair was thinning at a young age to being a badass who inspires mothers to stand protectively over their children; I’m digging the change.
The Grand Canyon from the South Rim.