first off, I was doubtful that this trip was even going to happen. one, our hiking partners backed out. not a huge deal, but nonetheless disappointing. two, we were notified that Havasupai Falls (the hike we were supposed to be going on) was closed due to flooding and would not re-open until next spring. and three, we were under a vicious attack of the stomach flu, which was ever so slowly making its way through the kiddos-- a couple here, one there, then a day with nothing, so you're thinking well maybe this is it. but no, come nightfall another one was blowing chunks. and on and on.
by wednesday, it was looking like maybe, just maybe, we were out of the woods. a day and a half had gone by, and NO vomiting. the trip was back on schedule. after much deliberating, we opted to do a hike off the south rim of the Grand Canyon, preferably going down the South Kaibab trail and then up the Bright Angel trail. but, because this is the most popular hike in the Canyon and being it was so last-minute, Gary was skeptical that we would be able to get a permit. well as luck would have it, by mid-morning thursday I had the permit in my hand, set to leave the next day.
and that night we had another kid ralphing.
by now we were at our wits end. we had the permit, we had already bought all the food and supplies for the hike, our backpacks were set to go, babysitters were lined up. now what? call the whole thing off? after much agonizing (do we stay? do we go?), we decided to seize the opportunity and just go for it. if you were to wait around for that perfect moment, you would never make it anywhere. and we had been looking forward to getting away.
so, a huge, HUGE thank you to my dear aunt and her family for babysitting our brood, making this trip possible. it's no small feat to watch this many kids. plus, having to deal with a couple of sick kids on top of it all, made for an even greater challenge, I'm sure. I can't thank them enough.
bags are packed and ready to go. mine weighed in at around 38 pounds and Gary's was close to 50. here we are on the shuttle, heading over to the South Kaibab trail head, looking somewhat fresh. I was plagued by a mix of emotions: nervousness, anxiety, excitement. I had not trained for this type of hike at all. and unfortunately, Gary had woken up that morning with the Hershey squirts. but hey! here we were! and the weather was gorgeous!
11:00 AM: getting ready to take off down the trail. it's all downhill from here, baby. all.seven.miles. at this point, all Gary could see was chocolate-covered cliffs.
on the left: the top layer of the Canyon, known as the white wall. on the right: we made it into the second layer, the red rock. and hey, there was even a toilet! so we make our first potty stop and chow down a couple hunks of beef jerky and dried mango. mm-mmm. the legs are still feeling great! and the scenery was spectacular!
break number 2. one of Gary's co-workers had recommended bringing two sets of footwear that you can interchange while hiking. so, the second you start to feel any burning or rubbing with one pair, simply change into the second pair. worked wonders. this was the first Canyon hike (out of 6) that Gary didn't get blisters or lose any toe nails. this had him grinning from ear to ear.
the super-highway. possibly the only semi-flat stretch. good time to stretch the legs. and look like a dork while trying to explain to my husband how to work the camera. at least tell me when you're going to take the picture, yo!
tonto plateau on the left. and the first glimpse of the Colorado River on the right. so close, but yet so far. waaaah! my legs were definitely feeling the constant braking. good thing I had a license to complain; signed and dated March 23, 1996. remember, honey? for better or for worse? well, this is one of those "worse" parts. heh.
finally! the Colorado! to get to the Bright Angel Campground, you have to first do a death march across the Black Bridge.
awesome view from the bridge. to the right and around the corner is where the campground is located.
hallelujah! 5 hours (and many picture stops) later we finally make it to our destination, where I collapsed and didn't move until the next morning. kidding. good thing for ibuprofen, though.
the Bright Angel Creek, which winds its way through the campground. we spent our first night here. there were toilets (that flush even!) and running water! and the place was crawling with people all doing the Canyon shuffle.
it's a good idea to hang the backpacks and put all food in metal boxes, otherwise the mice and ringtails will gobble it up. and those ringtails are smart. even if your food is zipped up inside your backpack, they'll just chew right through your bag. they don't care if you paid $300 for it.
that evening we attended a talk on nocturnal animals at Phantom Ranch. actually it was quite interesting, and humorous as well. (I'll spare you the details.)
I could have fallen asleep on a rock, I was that tired.
thus ends day one.