The Grand Canyon

A short drive out of Vegas, the landscape couldn’t have been more different.

The high rise buildings and neon lights were replaced by desert plains and cacti.

We pulled into the campsite as Zev snored in the car beside me, so I ran in to check in. We were staying in a privately owned campsite just under an hour away from the Grand Canyon. We spent a little time putting up the tent, and jumped back in the car to catch an afternoon at the canyon.

More than just a really big hole

Although it's hard to believe, the Grand Canyon was carved by the Colorado River. It's 446km long, up to 29km wide, and up to 1857m deep.

The unusual thing about the Grand Canyon is that, despite its enormous size, as you pull up, you can’t see it (for obvious reasons). So as we got out of the car in the carpark, we weren’t too sure what to expect. I’ve been to the Grand Canyon before, and had been dying to go back ever since, but I couldn’t remember exactly what it looked like. Zev on the other hand had never been, so REALLY didn’t know what to expect. 50m from the carpark, our jaws dropped.

It truly is enormous, which I know is a stupid thing to say about something called the Grand Canyon, but you can’t imagine it until you see it. We walked along the rim, glancing down into the canyon and making ourselves sick.

As the evening wore on and the sun started going down, the colours in the canyon changed. Slowly, the walls turned red, orange and purple, and we sat for a while and watched a lightning storm on the other side of the canyon. While we waited for sunset, the cloud from the storm looked like they were going to make for a disappointing sunset, but at the last minute, the sun made a stunning appearance, making hanging around to see it all worthwhile.

No thanks sunrise

We ummmed and ahhhhed about heading back to the canyon for sunrise in the morning, until we looked at the sunrise time: 0515am. No thanks. Instead, we headed back after a bit of a sleep in, arriving at the canyon mid-morning.

We started to walk to the trailhead for Bright Angel Trail, about 45 minutes from the carpark. We later discovered that there was another carpark at Bright Angel, which we bitterly regretted not knowing sooner as the heat increased throughout the day…

We headed down the trail into the canyon, aiming to make it to 1.5 Mile Hut before it got too hot. We would have loved to spend more time at the canyon, and spend a night camping at the bottom, but we just didn’t have the time or gear to make it happen, so this would have to do.

The further down into the canyon we went, the hotter it got. We’d left our hike a little late in the day – most people we passed were already on their way back up. Regardless, it was cool to be down in the canyon looking up at the rim. We made the hut with only one minor wildlife incident (I got bitten by a squirrel, just minutes after reading a sign saying not to pat the squirrels because they’re aggressive and bitey, and apparently, carry the PLAGUE????), and stopped briefly to refuel before turning around to head back up.

Back up was far less fun. It was hot and dusty, and uphill sucks. Along the way we passed some deer, but mostly we were spotting hot, sweaty, miserable looking tourists. I was a little disappointed when at one point, I stood to the side panting and sweating in the sun, wearing my soloman trail running shoes, lulu lemon shorts, and sports singlet, and was passed by a 60 year old Chinese woman carrying a clear plastic handbag who was wearing platform jandals and jeans.

Finally, we made it back to the top, with only my pride injured and a single finger nibbled. We stopped for a hard earned ice cream, and started walking back to the car. Out of nowhere, the heavens opened. Our walk turned to a run, and then a sprint.

As we drove out of the park, it was raining so hard that Zev could hardly see the road, and before we knew it, it was hailing so hard that it looked like snow on the side of the road. The temperature dropped 15°C in a matter of minutes. It was unbelievable!

What was more unbelievable was getting back to the campsite to find that we’d left our tent window open, and we’d flooded it… In the end, we spent the afternoon in the laundry room, washing and drying our bedding (and some clothes for good measure). Lesson learned.

Again, we ummmed and ahhhed about returning to the canyon for sunset, but the weather was so bad throughout the afternoon that we thought there wasn’t much point. Instead, we headed into nearby Williams in the evening to go to the supermarket. What we didn’t realise was that Williams was on the old Route 66, so it was a funky little town with lots going on.

With our food store replenished, we headed back to our clean, dry tent, and got an early night in anticipation of our drive to Moab the next day.

Lots of love,
S & Z