Deanna and I booked a 3 day hike with ‘Just roughin’ it‘, down the North face of the Grand Canyon, across the width, and up the South face.
To use the vernacular of the kids, it was awesome. Three days carrying everything we needed to camp, eat, hike and generally survive. None of this would have been possible without our awesome (there’s that word again) guide Craig.
Did I say carry? That’s right, carry.
Deanna was weighed down with 30 lbs and I had 45 (mostly because of the camera equipment I lugged to the bottom of the big hole).
But we were happy to be there, and even happier that we’d spent a few very enjoyable months training.
Now I’m aware that this is supposed to be a photography blog, and I did as I mentioned, carry a freakin’ tonne of equipment to the bottom of the canyon. However, I hardly used it. In fact I used it just 3 times. Twice at night to capture star trails and once to capture a waterfall. The waterfall will appear in a separate post later. The star trail pictures have been deleted, stamped on, crushed, and then burnt – yes they were that bad.
So, what follows are a bunch of snaps that we took with the new Nikon V1. Deanna’s sported a nice 10-30mm lens, mine a simple 10mm pancake. The photos are pretty cool, or at least all the ones that Deanna took are.
Here’s the photo journey of the three days. Read on dear friends…
We start at the North rim, a place lush with trees, vegetation and very few tourists.
The road for the first 2 miles is shared with mules taking the less-able down a ways. It’s narrow, twisty and quite spectacular.
That that label on Deanna’s kitbag says “Deanna”. I assume it’s there in case anyone walking behind her forgets her name.
(Actually, Just Roughin’ It loaned us all the equipment we needed for the trip and it all looked the same, so labels made a lot of sense)
At the bottom of the rim is a campsite called Cottonwood. I’d love to show you pictures but the hike took so damned long that it was dark by the time we got there. Let me paint a mental picture for you. Image a hole in the ground toilet (a nice one), a standpipe for water, a picnic bench and a river. It was secluded and just perfect.
There was a small group camping spot just behind us and we got to witness the warming sight of a bunch of young Christians singing praises to their lord while holding hands in a circle. Fortunately, they shut the **** up pretty quickly and I didn’t have to kick their asses.
Day 2 and the weather is a tad warmer; the walk almost as green; the views just as spectacular; and there’s a waterfall to play in.
I should mention that Deanna, Craig and I were not alone. Our tour group consisted of us 3 humans and 3 Wannabe-Kardashians. I don’t want to say too much about them because without giving them a right to reply it wouldn’t be fair. But anyway, here’s the 3 of them and the tour guide looking at a waterfall.
The second day ended with us camping at Phantom Ranch.
An amazing place. There’s a shop that sells hot chocolate and sausages, delivers postcards by mule to your mom (hello mom – hope you liked the card), and most amazingly of all, a beach. Yes a beach. A warm, soft, white, lovely beach nestling up against the Colorado River.
Craig was an amazing host. He carried all our food (apart from the snacks we ate as we walked) and he carried all the cooking equipment. In fact, his pack was so heavy that he declined a tent and sleeping bag and instead just slept under the stars, while we were snuggled in our tents, bellies warm from the food he’d cooked.
The third and final day started atrociously early – 3am. For those of you that don’t know, the South rim is unlike the North. It offers no shade, no cooling breezes, just the beat of a relentless sun. There were places we were walking at over 100 degrees. By starting so early, we were trying to avoid the worst of it.
About a third of the way in to day 3 you arrive at Indian Springs. A cozy little campsite with wild deer and splash pools. Those on the 4 day hike stay here and relax. We ate lunch and trudge onwards and upwards.
For the rest of the walk the scenery is just brown hot dirt. There’s more people than before as we get closer and closer to the tourist trap that is the South rim. Fortunately, every couple of miles there’s a shelter and cool water.
We spent months training not because the down is hard (it isn’t), or the across is long (it isn’t), but because the up is relentless.
Turns out it’s not. As long as you’re not a fat bugger who never gets off the sofa, it’s easy. In fact, we met a few people that looked like they shouldn’t ever walk, sweating, mumbling, moaning softly, but clearly on track to make it to the top.
Easy. So easy in fact, that we’re thinking of going back in Nov and doing the whole thing in one day. No stops. No sleep. 5pm to midday. One 26 mile long hike through the cool night.
I ran (well walked briskly) the last few yards to get ahead of Deanna so I could capture her crossing the finishing line.
She was of course, grinning. Just like she had been for the entire 3 days.
Thank you Craig. You’re awesome.