A new adventure defined at the Grand Canyon!

Trip Start Mar 10, 2012
Trip End Aug 11, 2012

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What I did

Flag of United States  , Arizona
Thursday, May 24, 2012

Introduction by Dad…

The Grand Canyon marks the middle of this second leg of our trip, and this is the first entry that I am making because the girls have done such a nice job with their own journals. It also certainly helps that we added a second computer on this trip, which allows them to work in parallel and thus significantly reduces the overall time requirement for everyone to get their work done every day.

The Grand Canyon is a place that everyone has heard of, regardless of whether you have actually been here.  What was really unique as the four of us approached the canyon for the first time is that our initial reaction was essentially the same:  "This is not what I expected!"  Actually, the Grand Canyon at first sight was a bit underwhelming, and it was only after 15 miles of above rim hiking, 6 miles of below rim hiking, 2 sunsets, and one record low cold sunrise that we left after 3 days quite amazed with what we felt.  I think for all of us, there was not 1 specific sight or experience that stands out, but instead it was the cumulative experience that build over 3 days that left us wanting to experience more.

It is this wanting that led the girls to TELL me what our next challenge will be.  My initial reaction was “no way!”, however they persisted until I agreed to look into it.  What we learned from one of the ranger presentations is that there are 5 million visitors to the Grand Canyon every year, and out of that group 95% stay above the rim, meaning that they never venture into the canyon.  I felt pretty good since we are already part of the 5%, but the ranger then went on to explain that only 1% make it down to the canyon floor, and only 0.25% hike from one rim to the other (south to north, or north to south – known as “rim-to-rim”).  The challenge with rim-to-rim is that it is a minimum 25 miles of steep descent, followed by minimum temperatures in the canyon of 110 degrees, and then a steep ascent.  Because the ranger, speaking to a large group, articulated this as a challenge, I saw all three of my girls look at themselves first, and then to me:  “Dad, we are going to do that!”

We debated our ability – or better stated, my ability to do this with a 9, 10, and 11 year old.  I was actually arguing that it was probably a bit too risky, but we finally agreed to go to the backcountry ranger station and talk to them.  To make a long story short, after the ranger looked first at me, and then the girls, and then back to me…his reaction was more negative than mine.  “Girls, this is a dangerous hike.  People die every year doing this hike, primarily due to lack of planning and dehydration.  Even though it might be only 25 miles, anyone who does it says it feels like 50 miles due to the climbs and the heat.”

Well, this all took place about 2 weeks ago.  We have since done a big circle around Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and now back to Arizona.  We are going to be on the north side of the Grand Canyon in 2 days, and after stocking up extensively on lightweight camping supplies, medical supplies, water purification equipment, etc. we are set to embark on our rim-to-rim adventure on June 9.  Avoiding the 110 degree plus temperatures in the canyon is the highest priority because that is where people get into the most trouble, so we will head into the canyon at about 3am and hike 14 miles to Phantom Ranch at the base of the canyon.  We will spend the afternoon there in the shade, sleep in a tent (scorpions infest the area at sunset!), and head up the south rim the following morning.  Any problems that we have will not be for lack of planning!

The girls are all super psyched to do this, and they are counting the days.  We have completed 10 mile practice hikes with full packs (40 pounds for me, and 10 for each of the girls) to make sure we are ready, and with three days left all signs are green.  We will fully document the adventure, and post an update when we surface.  God, please give us strength!

May 23 – by Katelyn

Today we drove to a place right outside of Grand Canyon National Park

Today I had a pretty uneventful day. First we drove from Lake Mead to a place right outside the Grand Canyon.  The drive was about 3 hours and 30 minutes.  On the drive I looked out of the window and I slept.  Once we got to our destination, which was a campsite, we went swimming.  At first I did not like it in the pool because it was so cold, but then Dad let us in the hot tub and I liked that a lot more.  After we went out of the hot tub and back into the pool it suddenly was warmer!  I really liked that!  Once we were done, we took a shower.  Next we ate dinner and went to bed.

May 24 – by Madison

Today we went to the Great Grand Canyon.  As we were driving there I thought that the Grand Canyon was going to be a long canyon where you would be able to walk right up to the canyon cliff.  When we got there I was surprised that the Grand Canyon wasn't what I expected it to be, and in fact it was probably the complete opposite.  There were twists and turns, hills in the middle of the canyon, and I you could walk right up to the edge, but there was a fence.  I didn't walk to the edge because it was really windy and my mom wouldn’t be that happy if we did do that.  After we got settled in our campground we decided that we wanted to walk part of the 211 mile Rim Trail that takes you from the North Rim to the South Rim.  We decided to do this because one of the rangers said that it would be a great view of the canyon and you might spot some California Condors.   These are birds that are endangered, and there are only 400 in the world today.  That is actually a big improvement because at one point there were only 22 of these birds in the world!  After we started hiking I was a little bit disappointed because it was hazy and that makes it hard to take a good picture.   While we were walking we saw a Condor flying in the air!  I was really excited because I really wanted to see one of these and I thought that it was special to see one of these because they are so rare.  Right after we saw the condor we saw a ranger doing a ranger program on these birds.  I learned that these birds have a wing span of 9 and feet!  Also they live to be 60 years old.   Condors usually mate for life unless the park rangers separated them for genetic mating reasons.  I learned that the condors were dying because of lead poisoning from hunting and because people were shooting them.  The numbers got so low that they had to separate the couples and put them with different mates.  That is how they get separated, but there also is a natural way.  If the male tries to lay an egg with a female for a number of years and it doesn’t work, the male will find a female that is able to lay the eggs and have the baby live for the first couple months.   I thought that this was interesting because usually you don’t leave someone because they can’t have a child.  What I thought was interesting was that the ravens can kill a baby condor.  If one distracts the parent condors, then a couple of other ravens will go and push the egg off of a cliff!  I thought that this was sad because the baby dies and I thought that it was funny because I can’t believe that ravens are smart enough to do something like that. After the program we decided to go back to the campground to get a good night sleep so that we can wake up early and complete a challenging 6 mile hike that goes down into the canyon.  I had a fun day visiting the Grand Canyon. I really liked the Grand Canyon because I thought that it was pretty and because there is a lot of different colors in the canyon.  I didn’t like it because I think that it is very dangerous.  One ranger told me that 6-8 people fall off the cliff and die every year, and another 2 commit suicide.  

May 25 – by Emma

Last night I didn’t have a good night sleep because I had nightmares, and I stayed awake for 2 hours.  Finally I had to go up to the top bunk to see my Dad.   My sister was mad because I disturbed her night sleeping with my Dad, but finally I fell asleep.  When I woke up again it was 10:00!!!  After we were done eating breakfast we took the shuttle to a place called Bright Angel Trailhead.  We stopped there so we could do a hike below the rim of the Grand Canyon. We were planning on the hike being 3 miles down, and three miles up. The first part of the hike was really easy, and there was not great scenery, but when we got down lower you were between two walls that were HUGE!! There was much better scenery there. When we got down to the first rest stop I was not tired at all because we were only 1.5 miles in our hike. On the way when we stopped for a snack break we saw a squirrel that was doing tricks for food. We did not give him any because the Rangers say they become dependent on humans, but when he finally got food he would run away happy as can be, and then he would enjoy his treat. When we finally got down to the last pit stop we sat down in the shade.  I think that the way up is easier because you don’t slip or slide. In the middle of our hike Katelyn wasn’t feeling good and a little later she vomited. When we were sitting in the shade a lady passed by and gave Katelyn a bar to give her some fuel after she ate a bit of the bar we started to head up again. When we finally got back up to the top again I was really tired. After we were done taking pictures we went back to the shuttle bus. When we finally got to the RV we ate dinner.  Next we took the bus to see the sunset. I was not too happy because when we got to the place where we were going to see the sunset it was all smoky. The reason for that is because the smoke was from a fire south of the Grand Canyon. After the sunset was over we took the bus to a place where there was going to be a ranger program.  When we got there we sat down and listened. Before I fell asleep on my Dad’s lap, I learned a few facts.   One fact is that about 5 people fall off the Grand Canyon every year, and 11 people get struck by lightning.  After the program was over we had to walk back to the RV, and it was dark, and cold. We didn’t have a flashlight, so I was scared.  When we final got back to the RV we went to bed.

May 26 – by Katelyn

Today we got our JR Ranger books and we went to a couple of overlooks

This was our last full day in the Grand Canyon.  To start the Day out we went to the Visitors Center and got our JR Ranger badges.  When we got to there, and the Ranger started checking our books he said that there are a lot of JR Rangers in the Grand Canyon, but then he said that we are one of the best ones because we finished the whole book and we did it in color.   When he said that, it made me feel really happy.  Once we got our badges we got on the bus and went to some overlooks. They were all pretty much the same because they were right next to each other.  When we finished going to the overlooks we went on another bus that took us to a Geology Museum.  There, I learned about how the Grand Canyon was formed, and about the uplift.  Uplift occurs when pressure underneath the ground gets really dense and there is no room left for it, so it pushes the ground up.  Next, after we went to the museum we walked a trail called The Trail of Time.  On the trail I saw a lot of the different kinds of rock in the Grand Canyon because there were little rock samples showing you all different kinds of rock in the Grand Canyon.  We walked on the trail of time so that we could go to the bus stop.   Once we finally got there we hopped on the bus once more and went to the Permit Information Center.  There, we got a permit so that we could walk Rim-to-Rim when we come back to the north side of the Grand Canyon in a couple of weeks.  Rim-to-Rim is when you walk into the canyon and out the other side. You start in the North rim and go to the South rim in 25 miles, which is a very difficult hike because the temperature is well over 100 degrees at the bottom.  After we got our permit, we went back to the RV and watched the sunset.  At the sunset I ate a sandwich behind a rock. The sunset was good, but it was not the best.  After that we went to a ranger program called Paper, Scissors, Ice.  At the program I learned about a lady who put paper figures into ice, and then takes pictures of them.  When I learned about how she does it, it seemed very timely and hard.  After the program we went back into the RV and went to bed.

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Coach Dan on

Girls, I've really enjoyed following your trip! It looks like so much fun, and you are getting to see so much! And your pictures are beautiful!

Right now I'm jealous, because I hiked from the south rim to the north rim two years ago, and wish I was doing it again. Hike early, and drink plenty of water. I got dehydrated when I was down on the canyon floor!

(P.S. - I love Yosemite! It was nice to read about your trip there. Are there plans to go to Utah, and Bryce Canyon?)

glenn kinckner on

I llove hearing about all your adventures, what a trip so far! Mr. Bob and I miss you all. Love, Mr. Glenn

Coach Dan on

I almost forgot - I love seeing GRA represented across the country!

Britta on

Fuerza from Argentina!! You will make it. That is going to be one great hike. All the best and good luck. Enjoy! Britta

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