July 5, 2016
Today we drove from Trent’s house in Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim Visitor’s Center. The parking lots at the Visitor’s Center were full, so we continued down to Parking Lot A and rode the shuttle bus back. Jenna had the map the ranger at the gate had given to us, and was leading the way. When we got to the Visitor’s Center, it was the first time the girls got to see the expanse of the canyon. The few overlooks were teaming with tourists taking selfies, us included.
In the Visitor’s Center we watched a short film about the canyon. I say we, but it was only the girls. I took the opportunity to get in a twenty-minute nap. I was SO tired, not having slept much at all during the trip and feeling completely spent. After the movie we walked over to a small coffee shop/deli where I got a Snickers, Red Bull, Gatorade, and water bottle, hoping to get an artificial surge of energy. It worked. We talked to a woman working in the Visitor’s Center about good places to hike into the canyon and decided to hike the South Kaibab Trail.
We rode the Orange Bus to the trailhead. There were many large elk near the road, as there had been when we were driving on the other side near our parking lot. When we got to the trailhead of South Kaibab Trail we filled our water bottles and began our descent. The weather was a comfortable 80ºF with a slight breeze. There was a large group of obnoxious teens from New York with an even more obnoxious and loud chaperone, so we did our best to avoid them, eventually passing them on the trail just so we wouldn’t have to hear their incessant sounds.
The hike was gorgeous! The vistas we experienced cannot be adequately described. The view is too wide to fit into anything but a panorama photo, and the depth is just impossible to capture. It’s an assault on the mind, in the best of ways. The path was well maintained and the hike relatively easy. There were no guard rails, however, and anybody afraid of heights should probably not do it. A misstep off the edge of the trail in most places would result in a fall hundreds or thousands of feet down.
When we’d gone far enough to get the photos we’d wanted, and not so far that the hike back to the rim would be more than we cared to do, we turned around. The hike up, expectedly, was far more difficult than the descent. It was hot and the sun was beating on us relentlessly. We stopped frequently when there was a tree to offer shade, and drank our water. I’m very glad we talked to the ranger about the hike and that Skye insisted we do it. It was breathtaking and inspiring and provided perspective and an anchor, all things I need right now.
When we got to the rim it was nearing 17:00, so when we got to the Visitor’s Center we transferred to the blue bus back to our vehicle. We made a stop at the Pipe Creek Vista for some more photos with the low sun and a clear and wide view of the canyon.
We met Trent, Tyler, and Trenton for dinner at Oregano’s in Flagstaff, which was across the street from Northern Arizona University, where my dad went to school. We waited for nearly an hour in the parking lot, which was fine. We talked and the girls played together. Dinner was delicious and the dirty martinis were fabulously refreshing. It’s been wonderful to reconnect with Trent and get to know the girls’ cousins Tyler and Trenton. When we got back to their house we put in a load of laundry. Skye generously and sympathetically gave me her bed and slept with her sisters so I wouldn’t have to sleep on the couch again. She’s a sweetheart. When I retired, Hayley and Jenna were burning the midnight oil with their cousins down at the dining room table. It was great to see, as we don’t live near any family.