The average visitor spends 15 minutes at the Grand Canyon. They pull up, take a picture, then leave. They probably go find Navajo tacos but we’ll talk about that later. Our Grand Canyon journey starts a little differently, mostly because we are badasses, and a little because we don’t know what we’re doing.
The most epic girls trip of all time started in Williams, Arizona. You’re about 40 minutes outside of the Grand Canyon but this little town comes complete with bright neon lights and even a Starbucks (so I could survive). For some reason we have bought enough groceries to feed the offensive line of the Steelers for a week but think it will only last us for a few days. We fill our camelback, make our gourmet PB&J’s and head to the canyon for orientation.
I like to think that I’ve had some pretty awesome adventures in my life, then I met the rest of our group that I have affectionally nicknamed with the exception of Susan. Mostly because Susan is badass and doesn’t require a nickname, also I couldn’t think of one. As we go around introducing ourselves we get to Asian Deb (aka Deb) who I now aspire to be. This woman has been everywhere and done everything. She raced for Ducati, hiked Machu Picchu and did all this while looking flawless. Sleeper Mary (aka Mary) who is relatively quiet, lives in Vegas and enjoys weekend hikes; and also just did Kilimanjaro. Mary is a badass in flannel disguise! Susan is in her 60’s and decided to do this trip alone. I’m in my 30’s and will not do this alone. Then there’s our guides. These women have done it all and on top of that, they know everything there is to know about the canyon and backpacking. There were two points to orientation: to go over what we would be doing and to bring our packs that the mules would carry down. Only we didn’t bring packs for the mules to carry down. Why not? I for one, did not read the syllabus. I saw the words hiking and yoga and thought, “this’ll be easy.” Also, upon hearing that mules would carry our stuff down I was like, “down? down where?” Once again, I did not read the syllabus. All this time I was thinking we’d go hike for a hot minute, do some yoga, then go back to a cabin located around the rim of the canyon. No. It’s at this time that I am happy that I overpacked because it turned out to be just right.
Our guides said they’d be wearing shorts, so I’m wearing shorts. It’s 30 degrees out with 20+mph winds and I’m in shorts. I am not in a good place. As we hike down I think of many things; is the wind going to blow me off the trail, should I have brought pants, do I really need this much camera equipment, those salmon biscuits taste awful and OMG this view is amazing! Every switchback down shows you a more breathtaking view than the last. With each step you get a deeper appreciation for the canyon (no pun intended) and a greater sense of accomplishment.
By time we reach Phantom Ranch we are exhausted. If I can recommend anything, go to the cantina, buy a lemonade and stick your feet in the river, this will feel like a 5 star pampering experience. Dinner is at 5 and it is announced like a cattle call. Everyone rushes into the cantina and passes around a salad bowl and whatever happens to be for dinner that night, beef stew and vegetable stew. We are given roughly 45 minutes for dinner and when finished we have to pass our plates to the end. This place is a well oiled machine, get people in, get them fed and get them out. We are so used to having everything at our fingertips but down here, there is no cell service, no wifi, no “I’d like to request a vegetarian entree,” there is only what the mules can bring. Think about that. This place was built on the backs of mules! Literally! Every plate for dinner, every shred of beef, every bag of potato chips, all carried down by teams of mules.
I’ll admit, I was the first one in bed that night. At 7:30pm I set my alarm and crawled into the top bunk and passed out. At 3:30am I woke up. Do you know what’s a bad idea at 3:30am in a pitch black cabin on the top bunk? Putting in contact lenses. Why? Because it’s dark and everything is covered in dirt, including my contacts. After I regain my sight, I grab my mini tripod, camera and water bottle (because its the desert) and go outside. I’m in shorts, it’s cold, bad idea. Do I risk going back inside and waking everyone up in hopes I can find something warm? Yes, I do. Do I find anything to keep me warm? I find a towel. So now there’s a sleep deprived woman wandering around the canyon with a vans water bottle and a towel. It looks worse than it sounds. I was hoping to get shots of the Milky Way but due to the full moon there was a bit too much light. On the flip side, I got to watch the full moon from the base of the Grand Canyon so that’s a win. I click a few pics then back to bed, fully clothed, contacts in. #worldslaziestphotographer
Day 2? Inner Canyon and I get more play time with my cameras…