I ate my avocado toast and raised a delicious bloody Mary at breakfast, incredibly thankful I did not have to squeeze my feet back into those horrible shoes.
By the time we got back to the North Rim, we were definitely in a celebratory kind of mood. We grabbed a few beers from the saloon (Dan’s new favorite three words: Cherry Vanilla Porter) and headed out to Bright Angel Overlook to enjoy the view. Of course, as I read (or reread, if you will) in the book after arriving home, a tourist slipped and FELL OFF of Bright Angel overlook, I probably would not recommend taking alcoholic beverages on the hike. Several people commented on our wisdom to bring frosty delights and asked when the waiter would be back. Almost as good of an idea as opening and In n Out next to Phantom Ranch.
It was really fun to chat with other hikers - most were shocked and genuinely impressed we had done rim to rim in one day. Hearing their comments was a nice boost. Had they see us stumble into El Tovar the night before, they may have changed their minds.
The Grand Canyon is magical. There is no other word for it. Simply magical. I have never felt so at peace. I cannot wait to go again.
I convinced Dan to give the brother another try before heading home on Thursday morning, and he eventually gave in (“It’s only a half mile to the overlook! I swear!” He just wrinkled his nose and grunted.) Technically, I guess it was closer to .65, but who’s splitting hairs? I know, I'm pushy. But I love me some Canyon and wasn't quite ready to head back to Real Life yet.
We even got a chance to see the mule train in action again, this time with passengers. I realized the answer to the question I’ve been asking myself for years: what is my spirit animal?
I always thought I was a bunny in a past life; it made sense. Big feet, mostly veggie diet, frightens easily. But now I know, I clearly came from the mule family. They are slow, steady, with a rather large round backside. We may not be the fastest, but we will get there. And dammit if we are not incredibly stubborn.
- Bring real food! We both agreed Dan’s condition was likely due to TOO much water and not enough food. He consumed close to 12L during the whole hike, and based on his size, should have eaten a whole lot more than he actually did. Gels are great for running in a shorter amount of time, but real food like sandwiches are necessary for long, slow hikes.
- Try out all of your gear ahead of time. I’m so happy my pack was well-broken in; I knew how to shimmy out of it quickly, readjust the straps, and put that puppy back on quickly. No chafing on my arms or shoulders, either.
- Bring water shoes! Again, not just for going off trail, but also for the water crossings that they do not tell you about. I can only imagine it is wetter in the spring as the snow pack begins to melt.
- Layers, layers, layers. I was so happy to have gloves at the start; it was freezing (especially for us desert folks who shiver when it's cooler than 64 degrees). My lightweight windbreaker also doubled as a rain jacket, and my hoodie was thin but warm. Compression socks to sleep in is also highly recommended.
- Speaking of socks...bring 3x the number of socks you think you will need. I am still pissed about my wet left foot. (Maybe that’s the title of a future book? “My Wet Left Foot.”)
- I fought with Reinier on this one for weeks, but ultimately, I’m glad I found a hat to wear. For my giant noogin, I found a solid one at REI just days before the trip and it helped keep the sun off my shoulders. I was surprisingly not sunburnt despite being out there for almost 15 hrs.
- Invest in the best head lamp you can afford. I switching out my running head lamps (battery powered) for a super fancy, rechargeable one a few weeks before the trip, and I am SO happy I did. The beam on it was BRIGHT and especially when there is absolutely no light, it will save your life. Charge it the night before the hike just to be on the safe side.
- Trekking poles are a MUST, especially if you have any fear of heights. It was like having an additional two more points on the ground, which really helped my balance.
What’s next? Well, I’m eyeing a 50K race in November in Valley of Fire. If all of the races continue to be cancelled, well, I guess I will have to continue to hit the trails. And camping, though I haven't done it in years...well, the NPS may just receive a permit application from one K. Boschee in the next few weeks for Spring 2021. Because I really, really, really miss my hole in the ground.
Thanks for reading!
...and if you ever find yourself in Hurricane, UT, let me recommend this corn dog stand. Go for the dog; avoid the cacti. Trust me on this one.