The Grand Canyon. It’s almost indescribable, because words don’t do it justice. It’s definitely grand, huge, impressive, and breath-taking. I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of it, but it’s really something else to see it in person. It made me realize how big the world really is, since it’s so huge and still only takes up this one little corner of the Southwest. Although it does take four hours to drive all the way around it, from the Southern rim to the Northern Rim. I definitely think it’s a place everyone should see at least once in their lives, and I’d love to go back one day and see it again.
L. Smith and I found a great campsite just four miles down the road from the Southern Rim park entrance. There’s a campground inside the park, but it books up a year in advance! We used this national parks website to look for available campgrounds, and while the page navigation isn’t the greatest, I do recommend using it to plan your camping. The Ten-X campground, where we stayed, has first-come-first-served sites which you can’t reserve in advance, so we got lucky and got a great spot. It was our first camping adventure of the roadtrip; and it was great. We had fun setting up the tent and campsite, and made friends with some other campers who were on a two week trip of the National Parks in Arizona and Utah. We’ve been following along on their trip, and it looks like we’ll need to visit Utah. It’s got a ton of amazing landscape and National parks we’d love to visit, including Zion, Bryce, and Arches. They look just as incredible as the Grand Canyon.
After we set up camp, we headed into the park to get a sunset view and our first glimpse of the vastness of it.
As it started to get dark, we headed back to our camp. There is a little village just outside the park entrance, called Tusayan. They have some restaurants and a general store, so we picked up the necessary provisions – pizza and beer. hah. The funny thing is the pizza place was called, get ready: We Cook Pizza and Pasta. And we thought the Northeast was unoriginal.
It got super cold at night, down to 45* F, so we bundled up in layers for bed. Then next morning, we woke up early, and got a great view of two elk that were eating breakfast near our tent.
It was super cool to be that close to nature (says the city slicker) and such large, wild animals. Thankfully, they were calm and didn’t want to make me run for the hills (as the thought of bears did, later in the trip). As we headed back to the Grand Canyon for a morning run, we saw some amazing handmade signs on the side of the road: “Jerky”, then a few hundred feet later, “really really good jerky” and finally, “pull over meow, you know you want jerky” haha. Okok you got us! We ended up stopping and chatting with the guy who was selling buffalo jerky. His name was Brady, and he let us try some (first time food!), and we thought it was pretty good, so we bought a couple of packs, including original and peppered. We even got a selfie with him, because it’s 2014 and that’s what you do.
At the Grand Canyon, we geared up for run down into the canyon on the Bright Angel trail (you can take a mule ride down into the canyon on this trail. Pretty cool.) Apparently, a ton of people have died going down into the canyon, from dehydration or heat exhaustion, and there are tons of warning signs letting you know that it’s not recommended to try to get down to the Colorado River at the bottom of the Canyon and back in one day. The descent is over a mile straight down, but with the zigzags of the trails to manage the steep grade, it’s over 9 miles down walking. Most of the trails are exposed to the sun with not much shade. It is also about 20 degrees hotter inside the canyon as it is at the rim, and it was probably about 85* that day. Given all that (since I can be a bit of a worry-wart), my “run” was more of a jog, and given that I had a camera, I stopped every 3 feet to take pictures of the view and the wildlife (plus selfies!).
L. Smith did a longer run, but had lots of water with him and went to a safe half-way point, the 3-Mile Resthouse, before turning around to run back up the trail. Obviously the way up is harder than the way down, as the trail is pretty steep. I stopped and chatted with a lot of the hikers who were making their way back up after having camped overnight at the River. They all looked wicked tired, so I can only imagine how hard of a hike it is. Pretty impressive. The crazy thing is that the trail doesn’t have any guardrails, so there is the danger of falling off into the canyon. Since I’m scared of heights like fire is scared of water, I made sure to stick to the inside edge of the trail. We later found out that friends of ours ran from rim to rim, which is just over a marathon’s worth of distance. They started at four in the morning and ran all day to get to the other side. Again, pretty impressive.
All in all, the Grand Canyon is “grand” (my punny joke I sent to everyone who got a post card, man I’m clever). I highly recommend that if you get the chance to go, you go and check it out.