Monday, July 1, 2013

14 hours in the Grand Canyon

So that road trip. I guess I should just preface this by saying there were all kinds of bumps, but it was full of all kinds of awesome. Mostly because I got to spend 4 days with 2 of my very favorite people in this whole world.

We left Wednesday at about 12:30. Since we decided to go to the South rim - because even though it's further, it's got the famous views - we were planning on a roughly 8.5 hour drive. Which it was, until just south of Page, AZ, highway 89 was closed. We should have recalibrated at the first "ROAD CLOSED" sign, but we didn't, because as Alex put it "I'm just used to having all doors open to me all the time." So we drove past 18 miles of ROAD CLOSED signs only to reach the road closure which consisted of an insurmountable barrier across the road. It was really, truly closed. So we turned around and took the 2 hour detour. Plus the 30 minutes we spent at a standstill because an accident closed the lane on our detour freeway. So it took us about 11 hours, but luckily, Arizona doesn't do daylight savings time, so we got an extra hour for free, which got us to our campsite at a decent enough hour.

The next day, we got up early, ate oatmeal, made tea/coffee, and headed into the park. We got to the permit office just when it opened at 8:00 and got a permit to spend a night in the canyon. After that we headed back to the campsite, packed up camp and prepared for our backpacking. Since it was SO FREAKING HOT, the rangers told us not to leave until like 4, so we would have some shade. In the meantime, we took the Hermit Road shuttle around the canyon and looked at all the spectacular views and uttered the sentence "that is grand" about a thousand times.

4:00 came and we got ready for our backpacking adventure. By the time we actually got on the trail, it was about 4:30. This is important only because it shows that it was actually 14 hours we spend in the canyon. So we set off down the South Kaibab trail with 35-40 pound backpacks, 4 nalgenes/person, +100 degree weather, 7 miles to our campsite, 3500 feet to descend, and "I'm just used to having all doors open to me all the time" optimism. And it was rough, but it wasn't that bad. The worst I suffered was that I didn't tie my hiking boots tight enough and my toe nails got bruised. The worst Kat suffered was that she decided to run down part of it, and she fell down and skinned a large portion of her knee. Alex didn't suffer, because she's fit and coordinated.

We got to the campsite about 8:30, made dinner, pumped water, set up camp, and were in bed by 9. But there was one problem. It was 90 degrees OUTSIDE THE TENT. So inside was insufferable  At like 9:30, I finally left to sleep on the campsite table. Because risking scorpions was better than sleeping in that tent. Anyway, by 11, none of us had been able to sleep, we were all miserable, so we decided to take the 9.5 mile, 4500 vertical feet ascent hike back up to the rim. Which, in the sense that we were subjecting ourselves to ramen noodle dinner filled, 16.5 mile hike, 8000 feet vertical change, 40 pound pack carrying, 24 hours without sleep, 14 hours in the Grand Canyon was a very poor decision. In the sense that we were avoiding the next morning hike in 120 degree temperatures which would have inevitably led to heat stroke and possibly to us calling a helicopter to bail us out, it was a good decision. Either way it was the decision we made.

So we started the hike in the dark. The first 3 miles I was a champ. Then I started dying. Kat and Alex held it together for about 6 miles until they started dying. I don't think I can write a lot about my 7 hours from Bright Angel campground to the rim. Can I just say they were reminiscent of Kilimajaro? Can that be enough? I swear, if anyone ever asks me to climb switchbacks in the dark ever again, I will stab them. When we got to the top at 6:30, which we did, despite each of us thinking we wouldn't make it at various times, we were all kinds of dead. I think this picture of Kat encompasses it:


Kat had asthma attacks all the way up. When we got to the top, I said, "Kat, if I could, I would give you a lobe of my good lung." She started crying. We were that kind of exhausted. We got on the 10-minute bus to our car, and all fell asleep immediately. That kind of exhausted. I've honestly never been so tired in my whole life.

So after that, we went to the campsite we'd stayed at the first night, parked their illegally, stole a miserable cold shower, and all fell asleep unwittingly for an unknown amount of time. We woke up, discussed driving 10 hours home, realized none of us had that in us, and decided to take the 4 hour drive to Alex's house in Vegas. We took turns driving while the other two sunk into deep REM cycles despite whatever loud music the driver was rocking out to. We ate funyans, because while they are disgusting, our bodies were like "GIVE ME SALT." We did everything possible to avoid moving out increasingly more sore bodies. We made it to Vegas.

Once we got to Vegas, we waddled into the house. I think each of us was the most sore we'd ever been in our whole lives. Our bodies were just like "what is this shit? You can't subject me to this." We all immediately collapsed on the couch. Intermittently, we awoke to watch whatever tv channel was left on before we fell asleep, to eat, and to bathe. We basically didn't move for 24 hours, because it hurt so much, until the next day when we got in the car to drive back to Utah. We did manage to get take out, curbside delivery dinner that night as well as fancy breakfast on Saturday, because when your whole body is traumatized  you just need good food. None of us could move on the drive home, but it was okay because Starbucks has drive-throughs, and that fueled us enough. And we made it back home  safe and sound.

Moral of the story? I'll give you two: Don't be a dumbass who goes to the Grand Canyon in June and if you are that dumbass don't be enough of a dumbass to try to backpack it OR even hellish backpacking trip can be all kinds of fabulous if you've got best friends as wonderful as mine.

1 comment:

  1. I'm literally sitting in a hotel lobby crying because of how much I love you. That lung will always be the sweetest thing anyone has ever offered me.

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