On the Way to the Grand Canyon

Posted on March 15, 2016. Filed under: American Southwest, Travel | Tags: , , , , |

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Spectacular scenery of the American Southwest en route to our grand adventure hiking the Grand Canyon!

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Grand Canyon Ascent

Posted on November 24, 2015. Filed under: American Southwest, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Grand Canyon AscentAfter a good nights sleep at Phantom Ranch and a hearty breakfast we set off in the cloudy morning past mule stalls and across the mighty Colorado River.  I was happy to find a few small streams to cross as well since I always like to put my Keen hiking boots to the test again.  It really does amaze me how they do not leak even one drop.

The day progressed fairly quickly and easily.  I find ascending tiring which I tolerate much better than descending which can produce pain for me.  We clipped along for most of the morning enjoying how the bands of rock changed color.  Several times we were convinced we were getting close only to be chastised by the next turn.  After about 4.5 hours we could see people at the top so we knew we were getting there.  The last hour was interesting because we heard so many different languages of all the day hikers on the trail.  I was amused by the Eastern European ladies in all their finery getting down into the canyon.  I was also disheartened, however, to realize that I heard very little English spoken.  It seems few of my fellow Americans venture below the rim.  At Phantom Ranch rangers told us only 1% of all visitors hike into the canyon.

That’s a shame.  We have this world-famous geological wonder right here in our backyard.  I felt I had gotten acquainted with it having spent these two days in the canyon.  I also felt very accomplished to have completed the 5 hours of hiking down and 6.5 hours up!

Grand Canyon Completed

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Hiking the Grand Canyon

Posted on November 23, 2015. Filed under: American Southwest, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

DSC04008The Grand Canyon has been on my hiking bucket list for some time now.  My husband hiked it years ago and I’ve been a little jealous ever since hearing the story.  So this was the year!

We decided on October to avoid the heat and crowds.  I knew I had to call very early for reservations at Phantom Ranch at the bottom.  The Park Service website confused me when it said I had to call on the first of the month, 13 months prior to my desired reservation.  I started calling  September 1, 2015 where I found out I should call on October 1 for any date in the following October.  So, October 1, 2015 I started again.  In this age of technology, I was dismayed at the arcane process one must go through to obtain a reservation.  It is a matter of starting the calling when they open, which one must determine and which is tricky due to time changes and whether or not the call center observes daylight savings!  At 8:00 a.m. my time I started the repetitive calling and calling and calling.  I received busy signals for 90 minutes and I was just about to give up when my call was answered.  I got the last 4 spots for my desired date (full moon night) and the last 4 reservations for beef stew for dinner.  It was very irritating.  I cannot understand why it must be such a painful process.  An electronic queue would make so much more sense.

My group and I were happy to finally have the secured spots, however, and we booked everything else around the Grand Canyon hike.  We did the South Kaibab Trail down to the bottom.  The picture above is me on this trail.  It was breathtakingly beautiful, of course.  We had perfect weather, sunny and about 60°F.  With rain predicted later in the week this was such a blessing.  The trail is wide and easy to follow.  The 5 hours of almost constant downhill steps was a challenge, though, and I was again very thankful for my trekking poles.  Sometimes people wonder if they create more work than they are worth, but the answer is no.  They help provide stability and extra support especially going downhill.  I would never want to do a hike like this without them.  Anytime we have significant elevation gains and losses I want my poles!

Nevertheless my knees and hips were talking to me by the end and I was ever so glad to reach Phantom Ranch.  Our dormitory was clean and comfortable considering it housed 8 women for the night.  That’s another oddity:  no co-ed dorms.  In European mountain refuges this wouldn’t be a requirement, but we had no choice.  We missed out on the private cabin reservations so this is what we had.  I must say it was better than I expected.

That stew was fabulous too.  I was glad it was all-you-can-eat because I was ready for a serious refuel before the next days haul up the canyon to the rim again.

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