Seventh Annual Grand Canyon Hike (2002)
Seventh annual Grand Canyon hike -- May 18, 2002. The tradition continues as I dragged 33 people kicking and screaming back to the Grand Canyon. OK so that was stretching it a little. This was our biggest year yet with 33 participants, and not everyone was kicking and screaming. Despite rumors, many people had a great time.
The trip began on Friday afternoon as eager hikers brave the rush hour traffic to leave Phoenix. A few hours later, we arrive in Flagstaff for a quick dinner. Then, it's onto Grand Canyon National Park. (See, I told you this hike is a "walk in the park"!) The weather was clear and sunny this year, making it a toasty day at the bottom of the canyon. Thankfully it wasn't as hot as the record breaking 2000 hike.
This year also marks the first time that I didn't know quite a few of the hiking crew as word apparently spread and friends started bringing their friends. The more the merrier I say! It's always a pleasure to meet new people on the trail. Here we go one more time...
Bright and early on Saturday morning, the troop embarks on the Grand Hike from the South Kaibab Trailhead. This spot has been in the past few years the only place where we can get a group photo of the hikers because everyone goes at his/her own pace. This year we have (clockwise from top left) Russ, Donna, Kevin, Curt, Angie, Joel, Barry, Denise, Erik, me, Jill, Jenn, Sean, and Bill.
Descending the South Kaibab trail we come to Cedar Ridge, a picturesque plateau where you can get some great photos of the canyon landscape. Cedar Ridge is also where you'll likely encounter park rangers whose mission in life is to deter people from doing what we are about to do -- hike down and back up in one day. They come armed with a multitude of speeches on the dangers of hiking in the canyon and can be very persuasive, though never rude. We have yet to heed their warnings and those posted on many "apocalyptic" signs along the way.
The hikers quickly find their pace and drift apart along the trail. You'll likely see photos of only folks that hung out with me from here on. The sky was clear and blue, made for a hot day in the Canyon. Here's a nice photo of Jill next to a perfect blooming Agave, a family of succulents commonly known as century plants.
An interesting bit of trivia is that they bloom more frequently than every 100 years. Depending on rain fall, they can bloom in as few as 7 years. Once one decides to bloom, it shoots up the stalk in a matter of days (sometimes growing as much as 6 inches in a day). After they bloom, they seed and then die, which is a real shame since they are truly beautiful in the desert landscape.
Mule trains routinely take people and supplies to and from Phantom Ranch. Here one such procession passes us along the lower reaches of the South Kaibab Trail. One must take care to stand aside when they pass, not just for the obvious safety reasons, but also to avoid being accosted by unpleasant odors and excretions. I'll leave the interpretation of that statement to your imagination or (if you're unfortunate) your memory.
The gang takes a rest in a rare shady spot along the trail. Clockwise from the top you see Angie, Jill, Donna, Curt, and Erik. Yours truly wielding the lens.
You'll notice everyone's rather peculiar horizontal position. For the record, we are demonstrating the proper resting technique by elevating our feet. According to one of many dire warning signs posted along the trail, elevating your feet at every rest stop helps to prevent fatigue and swelling. It really works too, when you can find a spot that permits such an awkward position.
Wow, there IS a river at the bottom of this big hole in the ground! The lack of winter rain this year caused the water to flow slower than normal. It took on a rather pretty green color from the algae. In a year with normal rainfall (such as 1996), it's a nasty muddy brown color.
My favorite part of the Grand Hike (besides the feeling of accomplishment after emerging from the Bright Angel Trail) is soaking my feet in the stream near Phantom Ranch during lunch. The water runs so cool and crisp that it literally washes the heat from your body. Jill takes a much deserved rest with the stream and canyon wall in the background.
Jill and Angie share a hug along the Bright Angel Trail on the way out. This is a point near the 3-Mile House, the infamous start of the toughest part of the hike. For the last 3.5 miles, the trail is more or less a constant steep climb with tons of switchbacks.
Donna "The Trooper" Marrow shares a smile along the trail. She's really having a tough time with the hike, and her knee must be killing her by now, but never once did she complain. It's fairly demoralizing watching the layers of rock that one must climb through to get to the top. Thankfully, we all made it out of the canyon safely and together.
Next morning, my nephew Carter rekindles his year-old friendship with Ed. You see, these two met on the same trip last year and got along exceedingly well. Ed was also gracious enough to serve as grillmeister this year and prepared dinner for everyone. Thanks Ed!
Thanks should must go out to Jim for bringing his full-sized gas grill along on this trip. We were unfortunate enough to come on the first day of fire restrictions in the Kaibab Forest and Grand Canyon. No charcoal fires! I was prepared to make do with 3 table-top hibachi grills, but the gas grill really came in handy.
Ah the morning-after feeling. It's somewhere between excruciating soreness and rigor mortis. Jill, Erik, and Curt try to recuperate from yesterday's travails.
Hey, this tent is really light!! Byron and Debbie pack up and call it a trip.
Dan seems to be saying "can I raid the cooler?" while Russ, Shaung, and Carter look on.
"OK gang, here's the checklist before we can leave this camp site." Sgt. Charles dictates the clean up duties to the oblivious crowd.
Don't look so sad Annie-Karine! We'll come back again next year, I promise! With that, we conclude another trip to the Grand Canyon. See you all next year.