Tag Archives: Grand Canyon

Day 561 of Life on the Road as a Family, the Grand Canyon

IMG_1157The view of the north Kaibab trail from the Bright Angel  viewpoint.  That huge gap on the left is the canyon that Dan and Nate hiked, all the way out to the end and the Colorado River.  The far side is the south rim of the Grand Canyon.  It’s our last day here and I am cherishing every view we can take in.

IMG_1169We sat for awhile on the back porch of the lodge, enjoying that view!

IMG_1179The front drive and view of the Lodge.  They’ve recently put on a new roof and it’s disconcerting versus the very old interior. When you walk in the front door area under the flag, you go down a funky old staircase to a room that has huge windows and the best view of the canyon on the north rim!  Even when the lodge burned and they re-built it, they kept the floor plan that the original architect had designed.  It’s beautiful. Go visit.  It’ll be as hard for you to leave as it was us.

IMG_1204Back at our campsite, we made the last S’mores of our Grand Canyon week.  They were delicious!  We played board games (Eliza won), laughed about the dogs’ antics, and talked about every fun thing we’d done that week. Truly a dream come true that Dan and I got to take our kids to the Grand Canyon and we won’t soon forget our magical week.

Day 560 of Life on the Road as a Family, the Grand Canyon!

Today’s the big day!  Eliza and I are hiking into the canyon to meet the men, who hiked down to Phantom Ranch yesterday and are hiking the 14.5 miles back out today.  We thought it would be fun to meet them on the trail, instead of just waiting at the top trail head.  Oh, silly us.

IMG_1086Here we are, 7:38 a.m. blissfully unaware about what it going to happen…

IMG_1099Here’s the view down the north Kaibab trail to the canyon, and the operative word is down.  As we were hiking, we kept talking about how far we were going to go to meet the men. Should we stop at Coconino point?  We have to make the tunnel, can we go further?  Could we make it to Redwall bridge?  Could I make it through the Eye of the Needle and walk along the cliff edge?  I wanted Eliza to see the springs, could I make it that far?

IMG_1104Turns out that we could only make it to this gorgeous bridge, Redwall.  It had taken us an hour and 40 minutes to hike the 2.7 miles down, with the last .7 taking us a long time. Too slow compared to other hikes and I was frustrated.  There were small pebbles and huge rocks on the trail and we were both stepping carefully so we wouldn’t get hurt.  We slid many times, but never hit the ground, so that was good.  I knew going back straight up was going to be a slog, and as much as we wanted to meet the men further on, I knew they wouldn’t be happy to hike the last miles of their long day slowly.  So we had lunch on the bridge and headed back out.

It was hot, but not as hot as it had been the week before. We were so lucky!  Only in the 80’s, with an occasional cloud cover that saved us from baking in the stone canyon.  We hiked with a few people heading down, and many of them had no water.  There are huge signs on every trail head stating how much water you would need for how long of a hike, but many people didn’t heed the instructions.  Crazy.

As we were going back up, there were tons of people on the trail and we did a lot of side-stepping of the mules’ leftovers.  I actually had one foot on the trail and one foot on the side of the mountain as one mule train passed, and the rider didn’t keep the mule to their side of the trail and almost stepped on me.  I was able to jump to the side of the mountain with both feet, staying out of the ditch and out from under the mule.  Needless to say, we think mules should have their own trails on the rim, and stay off the hiker trails.  If you’re too lazy to hike this hard, stay on the rim!

IMG_1139Here we are back at the Coconino overlook, whew.  I’m holding the sign to keep me up!  We rested here for about 20 minutes, telling a couple of nice guys about Bend, and the whole time, I was watching the trail below us for the men.  I knew they would have left Phantom Ranch at 5:30 a.m., and it was 14.5 miles out, so they should be catching us any minute.  Eliza had just headed up the trail again when I saw them below us and I hollered to her to keep going, and we’d catch up.  She had been patiently waiting for me the whole hike up, and wanted to see how fast she could do the last .7 miles, so she was going on ahead. As I watched the guys stride, I knew I was in trouble because they were coming up much faster than I’d be able to go.

I’d had my PBJ, so I took off up the trail after Eliza.  I had hollered hello to the men, but they didn’t hear me.  Eliza made it to the top in 15 minutes, while I made it in another 15, and the guys were 15 minutes after that.  So we didn’t get to hike with them as we had planned, but we also didn’t hold them up.

IMG_1148Here are Nate and Dan coming up the trail at the end!  I am “whooping and hollering”, which of course, Nate could have done without.  I was and am so proud of them.  29 miles in 2 days, with a steak dinner at Phantom Ranch, and 100 degree temperatures in the canyon.  Going down, search and rescue had them go around a hiker who had died on the trail, so they knew what a tough hike it was.

IMG_1151Here they are!  Tired, hungry and full of stories of their hike.  Dan told Eliza and I that we did the hardest 5.4 miles of the hike, so that made us feel better.  Well, a little better, we were all exhausted.  Another perfect day on the road and a dream come true to hike the north Kaibab trail with our kids.

Day 558 of Life on the Road as a Family, Widforss hike

We all slept in and I made a huge breakfast of pancakes, bacon, eggs and homemade maple syrup.  We’ve had so many mornings where we are rushing out the door to hike or play that it was nice to take it easier for awhile.  I’m laughing because we think we’re so busy – we’ve been recreating full-time for a month now!  Like being busy is something to whine about while we’re travelling in paradise.  We are all so grateful to be done with online school – forever.  Never again.

Eliza and I headed out to hike the Widforss trail, excited to see what it would be like.  It didn’t disappoint us; it was a beautiful trail and really well maintained so no worries for my ankle/foot.  I had been wrapping it full-time and it really helped to keep moving. I was determined to keep hiking; no way was I coming to the Grand Canyon and sitting around. Another bonus to this was trail was that it didn’t allow mules.  At the trailhead there was a sign instructing us to stay away from the blue grouse that was protecting her nest, and we heard from other hikers that she was agitated.  When we got to the pink tape, Eliza was quick enough to realize that we had to head off to the right of the trail, to a temporary one that they built to keep us away from the grouse.  So all those other hikers had gone under the pink tape into her area!

IMG_0922I keep forgetting to put all my flowers pictures in the blog!  I take tons of them and enjoy them immensely, but haven’t taken the time to find out what they are all called.  My Dad is an expert in wildflowers, so I’m planning to show them all to him when we get home and he can tell us what they are.  The flowers in December in the Keys were beyond description they were so pretty and fragrant, but I appreciate even this tiny flower when we hike.

IMG_0965This was the 5 mile turn around point for our hike and Eliza was brave enough to walk out there for this picture.  Isn’t that an incredible view?!  We sat and just stared for awhile, enjoying it.  Dan and I have talked for years about bringing the kids to hike here, so for me, it’s a dream come true to be on the trail with my daughter.  I did venture out to the point, briefly, before practically crawling back to the flat trail.

IMG_0978You can’t see my heart racing or my knees shaking in this pic!

Day 556 of Life on the Road as a Family, the Uncle Tim hike

Our first full day on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, and we couldn’t wait to get our boots on a trail!  We thought we’d go easy to get acclimated to the altitude, and I’m so glad we did…

IMG_0783Here’s Eliza at the point!  We had hiked the Ken Patrick trail to get to the Uncle Tim hike, so did about 8 miles total.  It was so beautiful to look out over the canyon at this spot.   We could see the trail down to Phantom Ranch off to the right.  For part of the hike we had shared the trail with mules and their tourist riders and it was beyond gross.  The views made up for it.  On the way back, I twisted my ankle right after thinking, “oh, Eliza should be careful right there or she’ll twist her foot on those rocks.”  Ouch!  Re-injuring my Memphis sprain was not what I planned for a week of hiking at the Grand Canyon.

The men quickly hiked back to our campsite and brought the car to the trail head for me.  Eliza stayed with me, of course, because number one, she is the sweetest human being I know, and number two, we live by the hiking rule that you never leave someone alone.  So instead of exploring more trails, we headed back to rig to relax.

IMG_0813We spent the rest of the day hanging out around the fire, reading, and watching the thunderheads build up, and listening to the birds. Another perfect day on the road!

Day 555 of Life on the Road as a Family, the Grand Canyon

It’s the day we make it to the Grand Canyon!  It was 86 degrees at 8:15 a.m. in Page, so we were ready to get to over 8,000 feet elevation and cool off a little…

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I had forgotten how beautiful the drive is to the north rim.  Views as far as you can see, which now include recent wildfires that they allow to burn to restore the forest.  We could tell as we drove through how old the burns were, from very new to at least 15 years old, from the new growth.  It was a lovely day for a drive to our version of paradise.

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And by paradise I mean the north rim of the Grand Canyon, not the south.  It’s not that we’re anti-social, we just don’t like crowds when he hike, and the pure beauty of the Grand Canyon is still on the north rim.  After driving the windy road for what seemed like hours, we checked in to the campground and went to find our campsite. Score! Dan and I choose a good one online, yeah.  We had a pull-through on the edge of the campground, facing a hill of trees – perfect.  We also didn’t have electricty, sewer or water, which was going to be a challenge for 7 days.  The rig needs electricity to keep the batteries charged, and as much as we love dry camping, we had to turn the generator on each day to keep the batteries charged.

IMG_0749We got set up quickly and went out to the 1.5 mile Transept trail to hike to the lodge.  I was so excited to see the kids’ expressions when they saw how big the Grand Canyon really is, and we had been waiting our whole trip to get here.  They were so surprised!  Even when you read about it and see videos, it’s still HUGE when you stand on the edge.  We took a few pictures, then hiked up the steps to the lodge’s famous back porch. Best view in the world!  They used to have rockers, but now they have a row of Adirondack chairs that you can use to just sit and stare.  We didn’t stay long, however, beacause it was too hot.

Inside the main area that has couches and chairs and a view that doesn’t stop,  we sat down to cool off and Dan was able to check his email.  We found out that we had a rental house for when we get home, yahoo!  We’d been working since January to find a home for our return August 1st.  Of all the ironic things, now that the mortgage industry has a few more rules, we aren’t able to buy again immediately because we don’t have jobs.  Details, details.  We found a rental in our preferred school area, and once again, we feel blessed.  I really do believe that if you work hard and trust God, good things happen in your life.  (And when the crappy things happen to us, I still trust Him!)

We hiked back to the campsite on another trail and then just lazed around our site.  Nate built a fire and we cooked brats and corn, toasted our buns and cooked the beans in the can.  So fun to be totally outside and we cannot believe we are really here.  We made it to the Grand Canyon!!!