A new adventure defined at the Grand Canyon!
Trip Start Mar 10, 2012
85Trip End Aug 11, 2012
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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.
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.
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.
My Review Of The Place I've Seen