While visiting my dad in Arizona, we took a trip out to the Grand Canyon. Postcards and documentaries don’t do it justice.
Entering the park requires a $20 cover unless, like us, you’re with the natives. Being that the land is on the reservation, Native Americans and guests can enter free of charge. When you first get there, there’s the standard welcome center.
We didn’t hang out there much.
The main attraction, of course, if the massive gash in the earth. And I don’t think there’s anything that I could type to give a justified description of what goes through your mind when standing at the rim of the canyon.
Jennifer and I decided to take the trail that leads down into the canyon. It’s a very twisted route, some stretches not that wide with a steep falloff, loose rocks, relatively worn path, but still something that made you keep your head on a swivel so that you don’t end up taking the shortcut to the bottom. And the further you go down, the weaker your cell phone signal gets and the hotter it got.
We were passed by others riding mules [or donkeys or asses?] and others wearing massive rucksacks who planned on camping out at the bottom. Initially, our plan also was to make it to the river. But around the three mile mark, it became obvious that it wasn’t going to happen.
When we got to a small structure for resting, we saw a bunch of empty water bottles. At first you’d think it was litter strewn about, but they were left there for those, like us, who dared venture into the canyon without water and at that point, three miles down, realized that we were parched, probably dehydrating faster than we thought, and definitely grateful for the litter. We surely were.
Jennifer was pining on making it down to the river. I think we had another 12 miles to go. Everything in me said “let’s do it,” but the sun was dropping quickly, we had no cell phone service, and the walk back would be a bit more than 25 miles. Mostly uphill.
So, we turned around. And when I say three miles downhill doesn’t compare to three miles uphill, it’s not in a good way. The climb up felt like we traveled three times the distance. And four times the amount of time. And when we finally got back to the top, I paid closer attention tot he warning sign the greets you when you first start the descent.
And sure enough, the very moment we made it back, I got a crippling cramp right in the middle of my thigh. Literally, I couldn’t take another pain-free step. Jennifer about collapsed. It was dark, got cold quick, and then we saw my dad who had this look on his face, a bit concerned because of how long we were gone. He tried to call, of course, but we had no signal. He said he was about to send the mules after us. And he wasn’t joking.
And after all that, I’ve made up my mind. Next time I visit, I’ll be better prepared because I’m going to make it down to the river. Even if it means riding on a mule.