Saturday, March 31, 2012

I'll Be Bach - Hiking Out of the Grand Canyon


Heading out in dawn’s early light, ten miles of up, awaited.

Hitting the trail at a good pace, we scurried across The Colorado River, chatting up our adventure. It was still dark in the corners of the canyon when we came upon an Australian family. They were leisurely strolling along, and we hurried to pass them. When what to our wondering eyes should appear, but twin little girls, about five or six years. Holey-moley we said. Good luck with that. The entire family greeted us with a chipper, “G’day.”  We scurried ahead marveling that they’d gotten those little ladies into the canyon, but more importantly, we wondered how on earth they were going to get those girls out of the canyon.

Going up struck me as easier than down and we made excellent time to the halfway point, hitting it easily in just three hours. The mule deer were thick, and the canyon was gorgeous and at that moment in time, there was no place else we wanted to be. When we stopped to rest, we took off our packs, refilled our water, and took some pictures. Then suddenly little girl voices sounded in our wake. Are you kidding me?  It was the Australian family with the Barbie Twins in tow!  Well, we joked, we wouldn’t have to call for the rescue copter when we reached the top after all.

Plowing on, we passed mules heading down to the ranch; they have the right of way. You flatten yourself against the canyon wall, when the mules pass you, and tuck your toes in. We were enthusiastic when we reached the base of The Wall, as it is called. It was straight up from there to the top of the canyon, and it got colder as we headed up. That felt like a perk, jogging uphill. After a couple hours we began to peel layers off, and stopped to catch our breath, rearrange our packs, check the water situation and eat more granola.
“Do you hear that?” Hubby asked with a grin.
“What?”
He leaned over the ledge, to peer at the path right below us. “It’s those little girls, they’re right down there.”
“You have got to be kidding me.”  I peeked over and sure enough, there they were, just wisping along, wandering over the path like cats with no particular place to go. I grabbed my backpack. “Hook me up. I am so not letting those little girls beat me out of this canyon.”
At this point we were beginning to pass people heading down into the canyon. Uphill hikers have the right of way, and as the hours ticked away, the reason for that was obvious. If you stopped, you lost your steam. I decided it was time to break out the spare mojo, and hooked up the iPod. I find that music makes me faster when I run, it’s magic like that. So I had packed it in case I needed that extra kick to get me up that wall. When I paused to secure my ear-buds, I spotted two teens sprawled in a crevice, like they’d melted in there. They looked up pathetically and asked, “Are you hiking down?”
“Nope, I’m heading up from Phantom Ranch.”
“What?!”  They sat up, “So are we!”
I hadn’t even gotten the playlist going when they hopped up and rushed up the trail. They could not let this Mom beat them out of the canyon.
“Cool, Hon!” I told my Hubby, “We’re their Terminator Twins.”
“Speaking of which…” he pointed to the switchback below, laughing.
Really?  What kind of genetic experiments are they doing on kids in Australia? 
We did eventually dust those Princesses, after we hit the ice. We didn’t see them again after we clapped on the Crampons and dug in. The last few miles were long and tough, and when we hit the top it was with a feeling of great accomplishment. I found the experience comparable to labor, insomuch as by the time you realize what you’re in for, it is too late to escape your fate. I’d do it again in a minute.   

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