The Grand Canyon

Trek Diary: Day Seventeen (12th July)

I awoke just before dawn and was surprised to see that people were already up and ready to go. I was excited to see my first sunrise, although half of me wanted to crawl back into my sleeping bag. I did manage to haul myself out as i was not going to miss this opportunity! After all, how many people get to see the sunrise in Monument Valley after a night sleeping under the stars? Not many. Our camp and sleeping bags also seemed scorpion free, and as i roused the rest of the girls i spotted a rodent running past our feet – maybe Willie was joking after all.

The sunrise was absolutely incredible. Ryan, one of our trek leaders, had seen it before on previous trips but commented that with the clouds in the sky, it was the best sunrise so far. It certainly was an incredible sight. Definitely worth the early wake up call.

Back at camp we had an all American breakfast of sugary cereals and coffee. As i sat on the table munching my way through some Fruit Loops, i heard the familiar tone of my text message alert from my bag. A sound i was definitely not expecting! Here i was in one of America’s most scenic parks, miles from anywhere, but with full mobile signal! Not very Wild West.

We were not very good at the jumping photos

Tonight was to be my group’s turn to cook. We were over half way on our trip and our meal ideas were starting to dwindle and repeats were starting to appear. We had planned to have marinated chicken but for some reason there is a lack of poultry in the supermarkets of the Navajo areas. We would have been fine if we wanted Spam – something they had plenty of. We went through a whole list of recipes in an attempt to find something that everyone likes (and that we could purchase!) In the end we went for chilli-con carne, a decision which was met with much stroppyness about having Mexican again. Some people were very close to getting pushed into a canyon that day.

The drive to the Grand Canyon National Park was broken up by a stop at the Betatakin Ruins, which were constructed between 1250 and 1300AD. It was only a short walk down to the scenic viewing platform. The ruins were quite a distance away but i could make out the outlines of man made structures. Nonetheless, the canyon was impressive but we knew it was nothing compared to what we were going to see! We entered the National Park area from the east and got to see the Colorado river outside of the Grand Canyon area, which was grand enough! The road turns away from the canyon after this point, which prevented us from sneaking a glimpse as we were driving. We stopped off at the first viewing area called Desert View and were ordered by Steve to look down at our feet until we reached the edge of the cliff face – apparently other groups were forced to wear paper bags on their heads. Your first sight of the Grand Canyon is something you will never forget. It is too much to take in at once! It almost looks like a painting or an optical illusion, and no photos will ever do it justice.

Our campsite was just outside of the park and was surrounded by shops, restaurants, cafes and the Grand Canyon IMAX was just across the road. No woodland or dirt to camp on today – we had grass! We were also staying here two nights and there was a very relaxed atmosphere within the group. We had a lovely breeze (with intermittent strong gusts!), bearable sun and an ice cream store just round the corner. Perfect! There were also lots of other Trek America groups camping here as the canyon is a stop on a lot of different routes.

Some of our group were scheduled to go on the canyon helicopter ride that afternoon. Although i wanted to do it, i couldnt bear to part with nearly £200, especially when i wasn’t sure if i was going to get my travellers card sent out to me. Whilst the lucky things were soaring hundreds of feet over cliff edges, we started on dinner. Cooking was eventful as usual; Natalie nearly lost her eyebrows when the stove tried to set her alight and everyone found out what a control freak i am when it comes to domestic activities (people meddling in my kitchen area tends to stress me out!) I also spent about 15 minutes trying to work out why the chilli powder was having little effect on the spice levels. Turns out it was paprika…not chilli powder! We also got some more corn bread from the store and I ended up eating most of it myself. People did not agree with the corn bread and chilli combination. Its corn bread – it goes with anything!

The local wildlife

We were to see another sunrise the following morning but this time from the Grand Canyon. This was also our day of hiking and i will admit, i was not really looking forward to it. My reasons for this is that, 1. i am not great with cliff edges and 2. i do not like hiking (or so i thought.) Because we were going to be gone for a few hours, Steve suggested we took snacks along with us. He bought us brown paper bags to put our lunches in and inside each one he wrote an inspirational letter to be read before hiking back up the canyon. I knew i would need as much inspiration as possible for that activity.

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