On this trip into the Grand Canyon, we took the South Kaibab trail from the South Rim. It is the shorter route to Phantom Ranch at 7.4 miles, but it is considerably steeper. We hadn’t ever taken this path before, and it happened to be an extraordinarily windy day. There were parts of the trail that were terrifying.
Of course, it is still the Grand Canyon. Every turn, each 15 minutes with different light on the rock, makes the view new and breathtaking. (Or, we were just breathing really hard from all the hiking. Either way, you end up light-headed and in awe.)
Look at that crazed, happy man. Have I mentioned how much he loves hiking? (I love it too, but I give him a hard time that when we visited Mexico City, it didn’t hurt to look at art. Or eat good food.)
Top of the trail. Look how innocent and clean we are. Four hours later, we pulled into Phantom Ranch.
I’ve said this before, but it is worth repeating: this lodge is a magical, wonderful oasis at the bottom of the canyon. If you get the chance to stay there—and the process is a complicated lottery because of the limited space—do it! The meals are simple, served family style in the lodge at picnic tables. The cabins have bunk beds that are comfortable and clean. The showers are hot. The rest is fantastic. Plus, you can imagine how interesting the people are who come to sit for a minute, either to stay or just to get a snack from the canteen.
We met people from all walks of life. The runners—just stopping to refill their water bladders before heading to another rim. Those on horseback, many of whom looked like extras from City Slickers, especially when they dismounted and tried to walk post-ride. And then there were those like us, who hiked down to hang out for a couple days. We sat at the picnic tables outside, eating apples and sipping lemonade and making up the back stories of the hikers who just arrived.
My niece loves to play games as much as I do. We played more hands of Rummy and Trash than I can count. We sent postcards (via mule!), ate Oreos by the sleeve, and told silly stories. We also woke up early Saturday morning to watch a meteor shower, stars shooting across inky black heavens—quite the way to bring in my 38th year.
We took the longer Bright Angel trail on the way out, about 10 miles of winding switch backs. The last mile, after you can see the edge of the Canyon but you are still not quite there, is the longest 15 minutes of your life. It could be the tourists toddling by, downward, with their ice cream cones and cups of coffee. It could be how good those tourists smell, and the realization you likely smell like a raccoon. It could also be how heavy your feet feel after 10 miles of up, up, up.
The bar in the Bright Angel Lodge has soft chairs, cold wine, average guacamole, and air conditioning. It is glorious.
It was another wonderful adventure with this crazy family of mine.