Now Is Not The Time To Be Clumsy, South Rim
Trip Start Feb 22, 2006
11Trip End May 2006
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MULE! (you know, like hailing a taxi...)
Really Big Hole In the Ground
So, I have visited one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Jealous?
After a night spent in Flagstaff, (driving on famous Route 66) I drove the 80ish miles to the Grand Canyon.
Yes, the view is spectacular from the South Rim. Yes, it's amazing (so amazing it's hard for me to wrap my brain around). But, to be honest, it looked fake. Like a screen hanging from the sky or something. It was a clear day but the canyon looked hazy. Pretty much what you see on TV, like the Alamo, is what you get from the Rim (see Kanye West's latest music video, Touch the Sky)
I went ahead with the plans that I made pre-Big Bend-to camp in Mather Campground. Because you know, if you fall off a horse...or in this case, a mule...you should get back on (if you didn't fall off the trail and die a painful death. If you did, though, maybe they'll write you into the second edition of "Death in the Grand Canyon," a book on proud display in the gift shop that chronicles all the ways people have died in the Canyon since the first explorers...). So, I got a campsite for two nights at $18/night. The prices here are STEEP (okay, the canyon humor has to stop)!
Camping was fine, despite the cold (a winter jacket, hoodie, long sleeve shirt, tights, jeans, pajama pants and five pairs of socks later...). I got up early, packed water and food and headed to Bright Angel Trail.
Hiking down in two hours, I was dazzled by the views and cheered up by the clear, cool weather. It was 4.5 miles to Indian Garden (base camp) and then another 1.5 to Plateau Point. Despite warnings to the contrary, I headed for Plateau Point (the guide says it's very strenuous...12 miles roundtrip). The view from the point was incredible! I sat and ate "lunch" (apple and cheerios) while watching the Colorado River spin through the canyon far below
Hiking back up gives you plenty of time to think about the meaning of life because you're not playing photographer anymore. It wasn't long, though, before I began to think of more practical things. Sure, it's easy to start off pondering all things spiritual and natural but soon you...or at least, I get bored or twist my ankle on a rock because I wasn't paying attention...wait, that happened in Big Bend.
I thought about things like:
1. I'm not really believing this whole erosion thing. Okay, sure, they say it took places over billions and billions of years but where did all that dirt go? I mean, they don't call it grand for nothing. It's freaking huge! And there were probably mountains on top of it back in the day. Erosion seems like a stretch.
I think that we were messing around with atomic bombs or something and accidentally blew a gigantic hole in the ground. The government fabricated the erosion stuff, made up the history of exploration...and none of the people who lived around here would remember because they've been exposed to radiation or brainwashed.
2. The Grand Canyon needs a mule taxi service. Because you're all good to go hiking down, but coming out is hell. I want to be able to throw out my hand and hail a mule
3. If beef jerky makes me want to ralph, does that mean I can never be a true outdoors person?
4. Why the hell am I doing this to myself??
Obviously, I made it out. Yes, I was crusted with snot and salt from sweat, and, yes, my pride took a beating as I had to sit down and take a rest while a lady passed me and offered me the use of her walker. But I did it! It's an experience that every able-bodied American should participate in at least once...any able-bodied person from anywhere, really, since I heard other languages spoken more often than English while I was there.
Just remember there is nothing wrong with sitting your tired bum on a rock and chilling for a hot minute. If someone gives you a pitying smile as they pass you, I find that shouting "Ain't no shame in my game!" so loud that the mules at Phantom Ranch spook, goes over well.
That's it for my Grand Canyon experience-next stop, Boulder City, Nevada and Las Vegas. Anyone want to meet me?