Trek Diary: Day Eighteen (14th July)
Time to get up! Our wake up call was administered by our Trek leader and i heard many sleepy multi-lingual complaints as he ran through the tents trying to rouse us. My face was frozen and i knew the rest of me was going to have to face the same temperature. I had created a cosy micro climate with my many layers and was not feeling inclined to leave it. Having to change in the freezing cold whilst half asleep, in the dark and in a tent, was not the greatest moment of the trip. We were on a tight schedule and were essentially racing the sun to the Grand Canyon. The drive to the park was spent shivering in silence. Well, apart from Anthony who wore his newly purchased fur coat.
This was our second sunrise in as many days. It may have been cold and ridiculous o’clock but it was still a stunning sight. Some of the group climbed down to the ridge below where we were sitting. You can just about see them in the background of the above photo. Elvis Travis is there somewhere too. Oh, and that is a famous tree which has gum all over it – i added my own. Mint chocolate chip flavour! After the sun had risen, we split up in search of our hiking trails with the vans merging into two groups. The mental ones (German’s and single British lad included) opted for the long six hour hike into the Canyon. Whilst us clever individuals chose the short but scenic 2-3 hour hike. We reached the starting point at around 6am. In the middle of July this is something that has to be done as early as possible…unless you want heat exhaustion that is.
The walk down was not too bad at all (more about this later in the post.) Our destination was only the second point on the South Kaibab trail called “Cedar Ridge”. It was still a fair way down and had some amazing views. We took some tourist photos, had some snacks and read our letters from Steve. Down on the trail was also the beginning of the “rash mystery”. As well as being tent buds, Lisa and I also ended up having matching rashes on our legs. It stung like a bitch but did eventually subside. This phenomena would reappear again and we started noticing a bit of a pattern! (Herpes. Lol jk!)
At this point I should probably be commenting on the scenery, but i was too busy thinking about the walk back up to fully appreciate it. A few of our group started discussing about whether to walk down to the next viewing point. One thing you should know about hiking the Grand Canyon is how deceptive it is. The walk down was leisurely…a mere stroll (whilst being surrounded by long drops and potential gnarly deaths.) It lures you into thinking you should continue on. “You have time!” “That walk wasn’t so bad, was it?” “You’re obviously fitter than you thought!” Lies. All of it! Especially that last one. Throughout the park there are warning signs saying, “What goes down, must come up!” along with stories of how people have heart attacks and die out on the trails. I was not prepared to become another statistic!
We started to make our way back up around 7:30am. The combination of the sun getting higher and the unfamiliar physical activity was not much fun. We found ourselves having rest stops every few hundred yards in an effort to break up the hike. We also played games like “eye spy” to take our minds off the pain of using long forgotten muscles. My personal favourite was “Something beginning with “C… and then D” Took a while to figure out. The answer was CERTAIN DEATH and associated with the cliff edge, which was about five inches from where we were stepping.
The trail was eventually conquered with everyone feeling quite giddy from sheer relief and possible heat stroke. We had planned to go see the canyon from different areas of the park but opted to return back to the campsite for a lazy afternoon. I also had ice cream on my mind. When we were exploring the camp grounds the night before, i had spotted a brightly coloured ice cream and frozen yogurt store. Definitely deserved one after that hike! I also used my english accent to my advantage and got free extra toppings. Chocolate brownie AND peanut butter? HELL YEAH.
I was well and truly defeated by this tub of sugary goodness and only managed about a quarter of it. It was an American “small” and probably contained triple the calories that we had burned off during the morning activities. The afternoon was spent doing literally nothing and it was so nice to just chill out for a while.
We did visit the canyon again to see the sunset. We got there pretty early but came prepared with Bible colouring books and Uno. Chang won the Uno games despite never playing it in his entire life. Our gameplay was interrupted by everyone clapping and cheering at the sun disappearing. I think it was an American thing. Steve on the other hand yelled, “Its never coming back!”
The rest of the evening was spent doing laundry and making use of the good wifi. One of my most memorable moments of the trip was meeting some real life Amish at the campsite. Now, i say “real life” but to be honest, i dont know how strict they were with their massive campervan AND a car. I was pretty disappointed with the lack of horse and carriage. We had spotted them earlier on in the day, along with many other gawkers and finger pointers. It wasn’t until i was in just my bra and shorts, shaving my legs in the shower room that we had our first face-to-face encounter. There i was, leg hauled up onto the sink in protest of the (rather expensive) paid showers. When a young girl and her mother entered, both in full length skirt and bonnet, staring at us. I squeaked an embarassed/nervous, “hi” as i promptly removed myself from my unorthodox position. When they returned, Natalie our resident “make friends with everyone” Trekkie, approached them and said, “I know this is rude, but…” It was at this point that Lisa fled. “…are you Mormon?” I sprinted after her.
Following our massive laundry session and our “Mormon” encounter, Lisa and I wandered off to the local general store. After two weeks of additive filled van snacks and a day of icecream and pizza, we were not doing so good. I instinctively walked over to the candy aisle but it was just not going to happen. Instead, I got an apple and a “Nakd” drink. It was green, so i decided it had to be good for me. On our return to camp we couldn’t find anyone and presumed they had all gone to bed.
I think this was also the night of the full moon, where we all went a bit loopy and started talking to ourselves in the mirror.