Thursday, September 4, 2014

Hiking the Grand Canyon

What a beautiful sight!
It has been a busy past few days in Arizona and I have been too busy soaking up the rays and hanging out with my sister to have properly updated the blog.  It does seem amazing to me that we are already in September.  Where has 2014 gone?  Doesn’t each year seem to fly by faster and faster as you get older and older?

We last left off after my lovely acquisition of three pairs of shoes and staggering jetlag.  My sister and I woke up the next morning and headed for the open road, driving nearly three hours to get to the Grand Canyon.  I had never been before and thought that this would be a good chance to squeeze in some prime sightseeing.
The singular thing about the Grand Canyon has to be its sheer size.  It is simply so large!  It’s breathtaking.  It’s also such an unusual landscape. 

I can’t say that this was the view I was expecting – I think because many of the posters and pictures of the Grand Canyon (at least in my mind’s eye) seem to be taken from the floor, looking up at the curves of the stone.  This trip was more about the macro view.
We decided to hike the South Kaibab Trail, which was a relatively steep three mile hike, descending into the canyon past the Ooh Ahh Point and stopping at Cedar Ridge.  If it had not been summer, we could have proceeded to the next point, Skeleton Point, which would have added six miles to the hike (round trip).  The problem is, the further down you descend into the canyon, the hotter it gets. 
Skeleton Point was not suitable for a day hike given the brutal sun and barely-there shade.  And on my way back up (a very steep uphill), I was pretty grateful we kept it to a nice three mile trek.  The tricky thing about hiking in Arizona is how dry and arid it is.  You barely sweat.  It’s hard to remember to keep drinking water.  When we returned form the hike I realized that I didn’t drink as much water as I thought I had (we had fancy Geigerrig devices that pump and squirt water which I quite enjoyed using).

Did you know that the Grand Canyon requires 250 rescues on average a year?  That figure consists of people underestimating the heat, overestimating their ability, not drinking enough water, not bringing enough supplies… craziness.

Here we are at the start of our hike.   We look so nerdy with our huge hats...
There are some quite steep descents on this trail.

Here we are at Ooh Ahh Point.  I admit I was a little shaky while standing on the rock.  I could barely bring myself to peer over the edge.

Here I am marching steadily on, on the way down to Cedar Ridge.
Cedar Ridge provided a nice panorama of the valley.  It was a good place to stop and rest and catch our breath.  There are some hitching posts for horses.  Thankfully there is a bathroom here.

 We made it!
 Woo hoo look at that view!  These are pictures taken on our way back up.

Pretty steep huh?
After we hiked the Grand Canyon, we drove to Cottonwood, a little town with boutique wineries, to stay the night.   We tasted some wine at Arizona Stronghold Winery, a really charming place that played live music, served a nice varietal of cheese, and had a most unusual spit bucket.
 My sister and I both opted for the combo flight, a mixture of white and red.  We ended up buying a bottle, the Mangus, a light and fragrant red, to bring home for our parents.
From there, we went to Nic’s to eat dinner (it was practically the only option in town, as nearly everything else had closed!).  My sister got the fish and chips and I got the eggplant parmesan with spaghetti.  The portion sizes were huuuuge.  After dinner, we practically collapsed as soon as we got to our hotel room.

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