1673 Grand Canyon

Trip Start Jan 06, 2007
1
8
17
Trip End Jan 11, 2007


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Flag of United States  , Arizona
Monday, January 8, 2007

We had decided on South Kaibob trail. Last time I want on Angel Head trail, which had a lot more descent before it went into anything scenic. South Kaibob didn't go all the way down to the valley, so it had more scenic trails. For the amount of time we wanted to hike, it was definitely the right choice. That and the other trail Randy wanted to do was closed for winter. We took the shuttle and saw our fellow hikers. We had a serious couple who brought poles and were wearing hiking boots and the proper attire. There were also two college girls (back to the college metaphor), and lastly a single hiker guy who had just come from Phoenix for the championship.

Well the college girls just came in to take pictures and leave. Just when we were about to descend into the abyss, some hikers came up and they looked tired and sweaty. It was easy to think, "what the hell are we getting ourselves into", but we went onward anyway. However, we had not known prior to going in that South Kaibob trail actually traverses the canyon so there are some campers who were arriving from the other end.

I have experience hiking. I've done Angel Head, but I also did Rohace on the Western Tatras. I hiked 1km in steps in Thira, Santorini and then I also did a mountainside in Perissa, Santorini, but that one was taken very slowly. Plus there was the wandering around in the forest behind the house and the valley back home in Minnesota. So even with snow and ice in the first few passes, I just took it lightly and was bounding around and trying to stay on the stones (I have better balance on uneven ground) and the sides of the path instead of stepping on the snow/ice. I probably took it a lot quicker than I should have. However, I always believe that descending a peak usually takes more time than necessary because of how controlled our steps are. Therefore I generally rush the descent. Nonetheless, Canyon hiking (and the Thira steps) is different because you descent, then ascend which is different than normal. This makes it more difficult because ascending takes more time and energy than descending. And usually you want to do the more difficult things first.

It was nice to be out in the sun in the Canyon though because the weather was warming up there. However, when we were on the shade side, things were unbearably cold and windy. On the way down, we met a few packs of burros, and it was interesting to see how they manage to get up the mountain and to see what exactly they often transport. Though, it made things slower because we had to wait for them to pass before we could continue. I think a lot of our time was spent waiting for others to pass instead of actual walking. I led the way down, so I barely noticed how terrified Randy was of the heights. I used to be afraid of heights as well, but I think hiking and spending time at great vantage points (tops of buildings and mountains) has made me start to lose the fear. Furthermore, I know how to do pratfalls, so I wasn't afraid of tripping and falling. There wasn't always much space between the cliffside and the fall-space, but I never really feared going over the edge. On the other hand, Randy took his time going down and tried to not look down, but at his feet instead. For him, descending was tough, because it was very difficult to not see the sheer height of the pathways. We took it pretty slow though and stopped at all vantage points to take pictures and just bask in the views. Or at least I did, I think Randy just took the time to recompose himself and lose his fears.

We made it down in two hours to the spot where we wanted to go. So of course, two hours back up and we'll make it in time for the last bus of the night and we'd beat sunset. However, Randy was afraid still and he knew that it was his idea to go hiking. So he led the way. This meant he was going double-time and was going much faster than a pace I could handle. I just couldn't handle the breathing and respiratory aspect of it. My legs weren't a basin of lactic acid, but I did have trouble with the cold air. But to Randy, going quickly meant seeing less of the height. And going up was better because the angle cut off his views to the very bottom of the valley. Coincidentally, Randy made it to the top in only an hour. That means he did a 6 hr trail in 3 hrs with 2 of those hrs going down. On the way up, I took my time and went at my pace. I was quickly reminded of the Tatras and how fun it was to do those. But I was also reminded of how hiking up is so much harder than just going down.

Overall, it was a great experience and we both don't regret it. I remember it fondly, but I think he finds it more of a thing he enjoyed but wasn't a life goal.
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