Whelp, I’ve slashed off another item off my bucket list. Before I go into the details of the awesomeness, let me tell you about where we camped. Man I’m glad we have the means to disperse camp, because the campgrounds around here are pricey and fully booked! We camped right outside of Tusayan in the Kaibab National Forest. We drove up Forest Road 302 a mere ¼ mile before we found a bunch of nice options to choose from. It was the perfect spot, only a 5 minute drive to the entry gate of the Grand Canyon National Park AND we were able to pick up wifi and cell service since we were so close to town. The only thing, (as there always is one thing) were the helicopters constantly flying to and from the airport. They make quite the business from paying customers who want to see the Grand Canyon by air. However it wasn’t a big deal because we spent the days out and about anyways.
When we approached the gate there were 5 lanes filled with cars. It felt like going into Disney World. Once again our America the Beautiful pass got us in for free, otherwise you have to pay $25 per car/7 days. The park attendant hands you a worthless map and you proceed to the visitor center. I say it’s worthless because it doesn’t give any detail about roads or trails. They pretty much herd all tourists to park at the visitor center and utilize the buses to get around. I guess this is efficient to prevent traffic jams within the park. At the visitor center there is information about the trails and which bus to take to get to the trail heads. The trails range from easy paved ridge walks to extremely difficult. Tim and I agreed on the Bright Angel Trail to Plateau Point. A 12 mile round trip classified as extremely difficult with a projected 8-12 hour finish time.
So now the climatic moment of my first view the canyon. We took the blue bus to Bright Angel TH. As I ascend up the hill, my eyes eagerly focus ahead for the first glimpse, my foot steps carefully approach the railing and then….it’s there, stretching to the horizon. I initially had to hold on to the railing to fully take it all in. It was so beautiful it didn’t feel real, it seemed like I was looking at a large beautiful painting on a projector screen. After a few moments I said, “okay lets go” and we descended into the canyon.
Down, down, down we go, passing by heavy dry-mouth breathing, red-faced hikers of all ages and sizes coming up. I started to dread the return trip. I pushed the thought behind me and focused on my footing. Two hours later we reach the campground where we had lunch in the oasis. Beware of the squirrels! They are cute indeed but they are very aggressive. While Tim and I snacked on Cheeze-Its, they creeped up and stared, expecting us to throw one. Tim had to stomp to make them run away, otherwise I’m sure they would of jumped us. After lunch and evading the squirrel attack, we proceeded to plateau point. It…was….hot…. No shade, no water, be prepared if you plan to do this hike. It was very rewarding as you get a spectacular view of the roaring Colorado River. They are plenty of opportunities for cool pictures if you are brave enough to stand on one of the rocks that jut out into the canyon. Ascending the canyon was a grueling 3000 elevation gain. It took us 8 hours to hike the whole trip. I must say this was probably THE most difficult hike I’ve done.
The next day we were both sore and exhausted so we did the easier South Rim trail. It’s paved, easy, has many awesome viewpoints of the canyon, BUT – this is where all the tourists come since you can access the trail from the visitor center. If you walk a mere 100 feet from Mather Point, the tourists thin out significantly. Dogs are allowed on the South Rim Trail, so Marilyn got to enjoy the view too.
We have officially hit our one month anniversary for full-timing (que applause). We’ve had a few hiccups, but we are still truckin’ to Seattle. Next stop, Sequoia National Park.