I traveled out to the desert in November of 2009. I went with a group guys (Kevin Mullis, Sean Moore, Ryan Martin, Chris Burkett, Chris M., and a funny dude named Chris Unrue) to backpack the Grand Canyon. It took us all of 15 hours to get to Flagstaff...we lodged one night and ate at this awesome microbrewery called Beaver Street Brewery. If you are ever in town...it's a must. Their seasonal ales kicked off the trip just right...
Day 1: TH elevation 7,268 ft at Kaibob Trail on South Rim to Camp 1 at Bright Angel Campground near Phantom Ranch
Mileage: 7 miles
Elevation Loss: 4,860 ft
The entire trail system in the Grand Canyon is clean...there are signs at every junction, and the beauty of this hike is you know there is only one way to go > down! The views were incredible...but that's obvious. Everyone on this day felt great...energized...and ready to tackle this challenge. For the most part, Kevin, Sean, and I stayed together while the other 4 guys hiked behind for most of the entire trip. Even though we were all together, in reality...it felt like we were two separate groups/teams.
Now, up above...I mentioned that I thought about God's creation at this point...but in reality, I was doing my own thing at this point in my life. I really wasn't thinking too much about God. I knew He was great, I knew he was my Father, and I knew that I had faith in Jesus...so that pretty much summed up my relationship with Him. Let's face it...Life was really good at this point. The man upstairs was blessing me without any thought or work on my end...so I felt pretty good about life. I have a house, a wonderful wife, baby girls...friends, good job, etc, etc, etc. Like many fortunate people in this world, I felt like I really didn't need God in my life. Don't get me wrong, I knew He was there...and I could always turn to Him for backup. But I didn't need it...Just look around...I'm at the Grand Canyon!
What I remember most about this day was that the temperature was 17 degrees at top. We were all layered up and ready for a cold day on the trail. However, within 15 minutes...every single one of us started to shed layers. Our packs weighed 40-50 pounds. Most of it in water weight. In retrospect, I didn't need to pack as much water as I did...but I was very conservative in my packing and did not want to run out of water. Everywhere you looked...was absolutely incredible. Every thousand feet you dropped, the sediment changed and so did the colors. We were all treated to the most incredible vistas any of us have ever experienced. When we got to the bottom, we were met by the Colorado River still carving the canyon away...we crossed this incredible bridge
Day 2: Bright Angel Campground to Indian Garden Campground via Bright Angel Trail
Mileage: 4.7 miles...going up
Elevation gain: 1,320 ft.
This day was the most memorable day for me...not because of the hike up to our 2nd camp, but for our trek out to Plateau Point. I felt like this place was right smack in the middle of the canyon. Half way up/down and halfway out...the best views of the canyon are here. At this point, you can see both the South and North Rim, the Colorado River, and every sheer cliff for miles on end. We also went at dusk...which painted the walls the most brilliant orange you can imagine.
Mileage: 4.6 miles
Elevation: 3800 ft
The grueling trek back up to South Rim will be one I never forget...my legs hated me, my back couldn't stand me, and but my soul was renewed...not because of the views or the fact I was finishing my first backpacking trip into the Grand Canyon. But because I met a man...named Jerry...that I will never forget. He worked for the Park...his job was to control the water pressure down in the canyon. He lives down in the Canyon half the year...working one week on and another off. He lives in Colorado and is madly, madly in love with his wife of many many years. He was in his 60's and has lived a full life...I would say he could have lived 5 good men lives.. He hiked with Sean and I for the majority of the day. He shared with us the history of the Parks system in the Grand Canyon and how he was one of the original crew members to lay down pipe all the way down to the river. His horrific injury that broke his back while on rappel hanging from a Canyon wall. His exploits in the military and all of the helicopter rescues he's been a part of...war stories. He shared with us his days of being a marathoner/ultra marathoner, a mountain biker, and outdoorsman...He told us about his children and how proud he was of them. But more importantly, he told us about his beautiful wife of many years and you can tell how much he cared for her...missed her. That day...this 60 year old man smoked Sean and I up the canyon wall...we could not keep up and were oh so thankful when he would stop. Not for a break, but to tell us another story (but it sure was a welcomed stop for Sean and I). This was an amazing man...and I learned that day that I wanted to be like Jerry. To live like he lives...to enjoy life. To enjoy others...to enjoy everything around. I knew why he hiked so fast...he was ready to go home to his wife. I was ready too!