July 9-10, 2018; Day 16-17
Grand Canyon, South Rim
Lodging: Ten-X campground, Kibab NF
The last time I saw the Grand Canyon I was about 7, over 30 years ago. I don’t remember much, but I certainly didn’t remember the crowds and international destination atmosphere! Campers, cameras, and people from all over the world converged on the narrow path that follows the south east/west rim of the canyon. It took over an hour the next morning to enter the park, catch the shuttle bus, fill water bottles, and find the trailhead for our hike.
As soon as you venture down into the canyon not on a paved surface you lose 95% of the crowds. We hiked down Hermit’s Rest trail- a rocky, steep path on the western tip of the south rim that descends about 1500 feet in less than 2 miles. You end up in a small valley with shade trees. It was hard. It was hot. It took 3 hours. But after sitting for three months I was not going to just look over the edge. Keith saw the determination in my eye and just kept going. It wasn’t about the amazing view or the seclusion from the crowds. It was about touching and feeling the land, about not being intimidated, about daring greatly through Christ. The rest of the day was spent riding the shuttle and looking out at all the overlooks with everyone else. We had planned to watch the sun set over the cliffs, but a thunderstorm sent us home a bit early. Even so, by the end of the day I had walked over 6 miles total!
On Tuesday we opted for a less challenging hike and a few overlooks on the east side. Our campground host mentioned an “off map” lookout that few visitors know about. Even the park ranger was hesitant to tell us how to find it and warned us not to get too close to the edge. Turns out there is an easily accessible dirt road that leads to a small event area. The park rents it out for weddings and other private parties, but when not in use is open to the general public. Once again we left the crowds behind, passing 3-4 small groups on the way. One mile of shady, easy walking opened up to the most breathtaking view of the canyon! It just overwhelms and mesmerizes you. Sitting on a outcropping, looking out over the peaks and deep cracks, seeing for miles and miles was something we will remember forever.
P.S. Did I mention we spotted a collared lizard on the hike, a coyote ran by our picnic table at lunch, and two elk thought the bushes by our campsite made for a good breakfast?!?