I wanted to write about Grand canyon while it was still relatively new in my mind.
We started on the No. Rim at 4:20. Amie, Andrea and Craig dropped of Kent and I. They drove to the so. Rim to meet up with us later. We met a guy named Lee. Told him of our quest. He took our picture and off we went. The plan was to go easy on our 1st pass. We were shooting for about 8 hrs.
It was raining and cold. I was excited to get going. We headed down the no. Rim. The water and mule piss collected into mini ponds, mixed with the mud, and caked to our feet. It was still light and we were hoping we could make it to phantom ranch before we had to get out the lights. We didn't.
It rained off and on the whole way to phantom. I tried to treat it like a power hike. We were way ahead of schedule by the time we came into the ranch.
We sat outside by the water and talked with some guys who were waiting for the bar to open. I can't remember the exact time, the guys names, or if there was really a bar. But I remember doing the math and i started to realize what we had bitten off.
We took the so. Kaibab trail up the south rim that night. The wind was picking up and pushing the clouds away to reveal a full moon. In the distance I could see giant rock formations illuminated by moon, and completely defying the persuasion of the storm. I started to think of my family and the warm beds they were sleeping in.
We traversed across a spine in-between two giant boulders. The wind was so powerful I could hear nothing over the sound of my jacket trying to fly away. I was insignificant. The feeling, that although I was granted permission to take this trail, I was at nature's mercy. At any point she could change her mind and sweep me over the edge. We made it to the top in 6 1/2 hrs. Much faster than planned.
I was hoping to meet the rest of our party with a warm reception. It was not quite the case. We had interrupted their attempt at sleep. The good part was they got us some spaghetti. The bad part was they didn't get any sleep. It was cold and I wanted to get moving before I got tired.
I had eaten my fill, changed my clothes and was ready to start a new adventure. Most of my crew however took a little more persuasion.
Two miles down from the top of the rim is an outhouse. The wind was still howling insults in my face. The moon was bright enough that headlamps were optional and only used by half of us.
Kent was having problems with plantar fasciitis and decided to turn back before he got too far in.
This worried me a little. Kent had the most knowledge of the trail. This was the first time for everyone except me. Kent was going to take the van to the top of the bright angel trail. This would give us the opportunity to see both trails on the south end.
The conversation was minimal. I think I was in sleep mode and the rest of the crew followed.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw what appeared to be a guy in a white t shirt standing on the side of the trail. I looked up and before my light could expose him, he bolted off the edge. "Holy ****! Did you guys see that!?"
They naturally figured I was hallucinating. As we moved closer I could see something just off limits of my headlamp. Luckily Craig had a brighter light and revealed a mountain goat. Even now Amie questions wether it was there. I could naturally sense his presence cause I'm part goat.
We made our way down through the tunnel, and over the bridge. We were welcomed back into phantom ranch by a heard of oblivious deer. I don't know what time it was, but we were the only ones awake. We ate, filled our water, used the bathrooms, and headed out.
Moving toward the north rim, our pace digressed to a glorified mall walk. Every now and than I'd yell out "puddle" or "water" to alert everyone else. When i got bored I would say nothing, and listen to Amie step in the Grand canyon cocktail of mud and stench.
We hit the ranger station and started the final climb up the north rim. It started to rain and the fog was setting in like a trailer park queen, rolling on her baby ( Nicole told me to change that part, I will when i think of something else... Nope didn't). All I could see was the very next step I was taking. Even though there were few places to stray, my mind still wondered. I stayed focused by worrying about getting lost.
Sunrise was expected at any minute, but it seemed to get darker. Not a lot was said at this point. We came across a few runners going the other way. I wanted to ask "How far to the top?" but I had a good idea and I didn't want to be certain.
Not much after we could see silhouettes of trees. And like a switch that turned on hope, it was light. We could hear the diesel engines of busses dropping off tourists. Before too long people were coming down. The closer to the rim, the more potent the smell of deodorant.
We reached the top, and grabbed our drop bags. Lee was there at the time we predicted we'd be back. It felt like we never left. I drank some chicken noodle soup and coke, shoved some chips in my face and I was ready to go. Naturally we had to pose for pictures.
We headed back down the north rim. For me this was the second time. But this time I wasn't concerned with the journey ahead, I was sad it was almost over. This was my last descent. I started to pick it up. Shortly we were passing some of the day hikers that we saw on our way up. Before too long we were flying by them. Dancing over and around rocks with ease. We got to the ranger station and I waited for the rest of the crew. The water spigot was overcrowded with people. We didn't stop.
The next section back to phantom ranch was enjoyable. We were able to run at a comfortable pace. The trail was crowded, but I didn't mind weaving in and out of traffic.
This time phantom ranch was a busy place. It was fun to hear the stories of other day hikers, and see the excitement for the adventures to come. For a moment I tried to feel like one of them. Then I realized I look and smell like a gimp legged hobo. With a grimy smile on my face and an indescribable stench we headed up Bright Angel trail.
It was our last push up and out. The sun was intense and the cliff walls intimidated me. It felt like distance no longer existed. Miles were only numbers and numbers were irrelevant. Every step was savored and then forgotten when the next was taken. I would go indefinitely.
I reached the top. And like a forgotten debt that went to collections, reality came back... There were two ladies at the top staring into the open void. They asked where the trail started. I told them of my adventure and how I came to stand in front of them. "Your still standing?!" one said. Yup and I already missed the comfort of the desert.
Like a washed up jock, I hold on to the split and finish times; hoping they would carry with them the joy and enlightenment of the actual experience.