Sunday, March 23, 2008

Grand Canyon 2008

Happy Easter, everybody! Sadly, Spring Break has come and gone for me, and I am off to school tomorrow. But, let me fill you in on this intense, on-the-verge-of-death, 50-mile backpacking trip that I just returned from!

We left Monday morning for the Grand Canyon. My dad and I packed all of our backpacking gear and enough food for four days under the rim. And somehow, we convinced my mom to come with us, even though she has never been backpacking before! The only thing we didn't have was a permit to actually sleep under the rim. When we arrived at the backcountry station begging for a couple of permits, the only nights that were available were two nights at Cottonwood Campground, which is a ridiculous 17 miles from the top of the canyon. But we took them.

Our first day was spent taking shuttles around and looking at all the different sites:

While waiting to get our permits, we decided to take a 10-mile day hike without our packs. We went to Indian Garden and back up the mountain. By the end, my mom was dying; her feet, knees, hips, ankles, thighs, and gluteals were all aching. What were we to do when we had to double the distance and throw a pack on her back????

Here are some of the things we saw while hiking (hieroglyphics, incessantly hungry squirrels, and the like):

Sharing the trails with mules was pretty nasty. Especially the smell. Eck.

As you can probably see, the trails were incredibly icy towards the rim. That was one of the most difficult things for my mom, especially since we were hiking along a shear cliff edge.

This is me tanning. Sorry about the immodesty. At least my pant legs aren't rolled up in this picture.

Here is my dad washing his hair in a stream. This is a ritual we perform on virtually every backpacking trip.

And, it's now time for the long hike out. Look at those switchbacks up ahead!

This was amazing. Here is one of the few condors in the world perched up on a cliff. This is a very rare sight to see, seeing as condors spend about 16 hours of the day flying. Sweet.

After hot showers ($2/8 min) and a night's rest in a nice tent, we headed for the trail with our backpacks. The trails at the top were, again, super icy. But, at the bottom, it was nice and warm (it got up to about 85 degrees), perfect for backpacking.

Look at these crazy trails! But, the view was incredible. This was one of the most beautiful hikes I've ever been on.

Yay! A bridge! That means we only have 9 more miles to hike before setting up camp!

Those cabins at Phantom Ranch looked really nice after all our hiking, but we still had a ways to go...

Now time for a story. We made it to a split in the trail, one way to the campground and the other to Ribbon Falls. My dad told me of a short cut across a stream, and I took it. But, my parents thought it was too dangerous so they headed around the other way. My dad motioned for me to keep going, and so I did. Here is a picture of this amazing waterfall:

After I got done taking some pictures, it started getting dark and my parents still hadn't arrived. I left the falls and went back to the split in the trail, but there was still no trace of my parents. I took out my emergency whistle and blew, yet no one heard the loud, obnoxious blasts. After many prayers and many tears, I felt that I should forget the rules of scouting and head to Cottonwood Campground by myself. So, I wrapped pink duct tape around the trail marker with a note to my parents, if they should find it, and started the mile hike to Cottonwood.

Little did I know that my dad was yelling for me to meet him at Cottonwood before we split up. The rushing creek had drowned out his voice. So, as I hiked down the trail, I found my parents (who were as worried as I was after 2 hours of separation), had a happy reunion, and got into camp at sundown. We set up the tent in the dark and had a quick, freeze-dried dinner before heading off to bed.

The next morning we left our packs at camp and took a day hike towards the North Rim. The scenery was amazing!

We stopped 2 miles away from camp at this ranger's station. They had a bathroom door unlocked with hot running water! Sweet!

What delicious lunch food we had! Olive oil and rosemary flavored Triscuits, topped with easy cheese and beef tenderloins. Yummy...

Here's a picture of Roaring Springs. I personally liked Ribbon Falls better, but it was still neat:

We then headed back to camp and decided to continue to Ribbon Falls (for my mom). I think these pictures give a better idea of how massive and amazing this waterfall really is:

My dad and I then decided to leave my mom and travel to Upper Ribbon Falls (I know, even after we learn not to split up we do it again). We had a mile hike pretty much straight up and over a cliff, but we eventually made it to the falls.

At the falls, there were also a bunch of Anasazi ruins. It was incredible to go walk up to them and take pictures.

After an eventful day, we went back to our camp and got to sleep early. We had a long hike out the next day (17 miles up-hill), so we decided to wake up super early. We got up at 3 am Arizona time (4 am Albuquerque time) and started to clean up camp. After packing and eating a quick breakfast of oatmeal, Ramen noodles, and freeze-dried lasagna, we left for a hike in the dark. Luckily, the full-moon lit the trail with its magnificent light.

We made it back to the suspension bridge across the Colorado River in record time. We were hiking at a 3 mph pace, which is unheard of in backpacking. My mom was leading us, and I could barely keep up with her! I would like to say it was my 65-lbs backpack slowing me down, but I think my mom is just a beast.

Sadly, my camera ran out of batteries after this picture on the way out. I guess my camera's battery power only lasts for 554 pictures and 1 movie. Oh well. I missed some of the best pictures, though. We saw 5 deer in the trail, 3 bighorn sheep jump right in front of us, and a crazy squirrel hanging onto my mom's apple core for dear life. And, most important of all, we made it out alive! It was an incredible backpacking trip, but I have a strange feeling my mom won't ever do it again...


Melanie said...

Holy Cow. The pics are beautiful. I don't think I could do that! Great adventure though!

Celestine said...

Sammy, great BLOG posting of our incredible trip! Next time we'll take TWO cameras so we don't miss any important shots :-).

Question: Who's that fat old hag in the brown coat eating beside your dad at the picnic table in the dark??

That's it! I'm starting my walking program TODAY!! I love you Sam. You're an awesome Eagle scout and

Dan said...

nice pictures sam. you guys are always up to some adventure.