Monday, September 22, 2014

Our Grand Canyon Adventure - 1 Year Later

1 year ago today, my dad and I flew to Arizona for the greatest adventure of my life - we went on a 3 day hike into the Grand Canyon.  It was, no doubt, the hardest and most exciting thing I've ever had to do in my entire life.  We've been dying to take this trip since I was 21 and he drove me to LA for my summer internship. We stopped at the Grand Canyon on the way there and had so much fun.  We "hiked" down all of like 5 minutes and knew we had to take the full trip some day soon.

We booked the hike through a company called Wildland Trekking.  They provide a guide, food, some of the supplies and take care of the permits for you.  If you want to read the business-y details of our hike - where we went, how far it was, how long it took, where we stayed, etc. - check out the trip description Wildland's website.

I'll share a few interesting details and then a ton of pictures:
  • I am allergic to the entire state of Arizona.  I'm seriously allergic to the Ponderosa Pines that grow in Flagstaff, AZ and at the rim of the canyon - like eyes watering, nose stuffed up, asthma attack kind of allergic - and I learned this while I was on the trip.  :-/  Also, I could almost say I'm allergic to dry air - the kind of air that sucks the moisture from you.  I used to get really sick when the seasons changed in Vegas because the already dry air was that much drier - I just didn't realize the Grand Canyon was the same way.  I know, I'm an idiot.  So, allergic to everything there - eyes watering, lips chapping, breathing not well - Lord almighty.  I was a mess.  (That is officially the bulk of my complaint- when I go back and tackle a rafting trip, I will be properly medicated, I'll have tons of moisturizing things and saline for my nose and eye drops... and all will be good.  I just wasn't prepared for how I reacted to the environment)
  • While I couldn't breath in the lovely mountain air, my dad was refreshed and invigorated by it.  Good. For. Him.
  • We camped out at two amazing sites - night one at Phantom Ranch and night two at Indian Garden.  At Indian Garden, we slept with scorpions.  No joke.
  • Bringing my Aunt's books (Waiting for Dusk and Call of the Canyon) down to the bottom of the canyon with us was totally worth it.  
  • The squirrels in the Grand Canyon are... different... they want your food and they will pander to you to get it.  It's actually really cute - they don't seem like the evil genius squirrels we have back home.  They also have fur sticking up that makes them look like they have pointy ears.  This is hysterical.  They are so annoying that they drove our pacifist guide to actually attack them in a burst of violence.  I imagine he's not the first.  They were also double-teaming at one point.  One squirrel would distract us while the other would pop up between rocks and try for our food.  So, they might be evil geniuses like the squirrels in Ohio and Oklahoma... 
  • When I finished the hike, I cried and hugged our guide.  I cried because I was proud, excited, overwhelmed, exhausted and so pumped.  Also?  I was back at the top with the Ponderosa Pines, couldn't breath and was mostly glad to be alive.  
  • We wouldn't have made it without our guide, Sam.  He was incredible.  Even when he was annoying me with his energy and excitement, I knew he was awesome.  
  • The other people on in our group (there were only 4 of us and Sam) were cyclists.  They were not allergic to Arizona either.  I kind of hated them a bit.  I mean, not really.
  • It was really one of the most beautiful places I've ever been - with the canyon all around you and the beautiful skies - but it was easy to get overwhelmed by the beauty.  It proved difficult to focus on the hike (not falling, breathing, just putting one foot in front of the other) and absorb my surroundings at the same time.  Difficult, but not impossible.  And definitely worth it.
  • Also?  My dad's awesome.  We took on this crazy challenge together and it wasn't easy.  We could've been fighting and not speaking very easily, but we were a team instead.  I honestly think my very favorite part was the first night when we were alone for a bit hiking in the pitch black.  We'd take breaks and turn off our flashlights (that we were wearing on our heads...) and just be.  It was so quiet and we'd take our rest and then inevitably crack a joke about a wild animal attacking and we'd laugh.  
Laughing at night near the bottom of the Grand Canyon is something I never thought I'd do and turns out, it's one of my favorite things.
Day 1 // We. Are. READY!
Day 1 // If I went out to the peak where that guy is, I would've fallen in.
Day 1 // It takes your breath away!
Day 1 // Literally - takes your breath away (*rimshot* Get it?)
Day 1 // If you look closely, you can see our group mates in this shot.
Day 1 // Trust me.  They're in this picture, too!
Day 1 // There are no words.
Day 1 // I mean, come on.
Day 1 // Doesn't even look like the same place! 
Day 2 // The night before, we crossed this bridge in the pitch black - could only hear the water!
Day 2 // The Colorado River
Day 2 // I trained in sand - I trained in sand thinking there WASN'T sand in the Grand Canyon!
Day 2 // They're like tourists!
Day 2 //Waiting for Dusk
Day 2 //Call of the Canyon
Day 2 // There had to be at least one picture of my Dad!
Day 2 // Lunch at beautiful hidden waterfalls
Day 2 // More sand.  Obviously, I'm excited about that.
Day 2 // Sunset.  I mean, look at that.
Day 3 // The sun is rising fast.
Day 3 // I'm smiling because it's almost over. At least, that's what they tell me.
Day 3 // The sun and the moon.
Day 3 // He's plotting to steal my trail mix.
Day 3 // I kinda look like I know what I'm doing, huh?  It isn't true.
Day 3 // It wouldn't be a trip to the Grand Canyon without the mules!
Day 3 // It's beautiful everywhere you look.
Day 3 // Beautiful, but so allergenic...
Day 3 // I'm not even sure I could see through the tears at this point.
Day 3 // But, so beautiful
Day 3 // This is PRACTICALLY the end!
Day 3 // All I see is sneezing.
Day 3 // We are incredible.  And really tired.

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