Thursday, March 31, 2011

Grand Canyon (2008)

Here is an original song and slideshow of my hike into the Grand Canyon in 2008 before I started this blog.

It was, and still is, one of my favorite hikes of all time. I was driving across the country at the time, moving from Asheville North Carolina to Los Angeles. I decided to stop by the Grand Canyon, and on a whim, decided to see if I could get a backcountry permit from the ranger's office. I've heard that most folks need to reserve months in advance to hike the Bright Angel Trail, so I wasn't expecting much. My chances were slim to none, I assumed.

I remember walking into the office and the ranger behind the desk was not in a good mood. There was another man in front of me getting his permit and the ranger was grilling him about his preparadness.

"If you get lost, nobody is going to come looking for you!" the ranger barked.

I had done zero research about this hike, and really didn't know what I was getting into. I just knew that my trip had entered a lull and I desired an opportunity to spice it up a bit. Besides, I wasn't sure whether I'd ever be back to see the Grand Canyon again in my lifetime. As a result, I tried to appear as confident as possible when it was my turn to talk to the ranger, and see if I could obtain a permit.

I was amazed when the ranger told me that there was one backcountry permit outstanding. The person who it belonged to had cancelled at the last minute.

"I'll take it!" I exclaimed.
"Do you have crampons?" the ranger asked.
"Sorry, I can't give you the permit. The trail is too icy at the top of the rim, and you need crampons in order to descend."

I walked away dissapointed. When I imagined crampons, I assumed she was refferring to some expensive mountaineering boots which I obviously did not have. As I was walking back to my campsite, another ranger happened to stop his vehicle and said hi. In passing conversation, I mentioned the crampons.

"You can rent them at the store, they only cost 5 bucks." he informed me.
"No way!"

I ran to the store, quickly rented a set of crampons (they were only spikes that you attatch to your shoes) and ran back to the wilderness permit office hoping that the backcountry permit was still available. Sure enough, it was, and I was exilaerated about the good fortune that suddenly came my way. I was going to hike into the Grand Canyon!

Needless to say, the hike was incredible. I began the next day after spending the evening reading as much as I could about it with the information I had. It was very cold at the rim in the morning, but the further I descended, the warmer it got. It was a perfect temperature by the time I reached the Colorado River. My knees and legs had taken a beating though, it was a full day of nothing but descent. When I reached my campsite in the afternoon, I remember setting up camp, and simply enjoyed the warm weather, sunshine, relaxation, and food I brought. Restlessness kicked in however, and I spent the remaining hours of daylight exploring one of the trails meandering through one of the canyons. It was simply spectacular.

The next day, my body was extremely sore. My permit was only good for two days, so I had to begin my ascent up to the rim. A full day of climbing simply destroyed my legs. By the time I reached my vehicle in the late afternoon, I was too exhausted to organize my stuff. I remember simply throwing it into my vehicle where I could find space. Then, continued my journey west, heading for Barstow.

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