Tag Archives: colorado

12 Hour Trudge

16 Sep

Grand Canyon – Sept 4th 2005

3:30 am
I woke up with a jolt as the alarm rang and realized that today was the day I was gong down the Grand Canyon. For a second, I thought that I must have been completely insane to have undertaken the challenge! Even now, I dont have to do this, I thought, as I remembered those crazy web-sites that completely psyched me out by overdoses of warnings about how people have gotten lost and even died in an attempt to hike down to the river and up in one day. But then, I had gone up and down Half Dome and this was the same – upside down!
4:15 am
Raghu and I left the hotel at 4:15 a.m. after eating our dinner left-overs for breakfast. We then drove to the Bright Angel lodge, parked our car and waited at the shuttle bus stop. The hiker express picks up hikers from the Bright Angel Lodge at 5:00 am. and deposits them to the South Kaibab trailhead. This was ideal for us, as we were hiking down the South Kaibab trail and up the Bright Angel trail. There were a lot of hikers on the bus, some of them first-timers like us and some veterans.
5:30 am
Finally the hour had arrived that we had been waiting for and we started the descent. It was still a good 15 min before sunrise and the canyon did not look inviting. But our spirits were high and down and down and down we went. The trail was pretty well-defined but only wide enough for one person at a time. Then I saw the first warning – ‘Do not attempt to hike to the river and back in one day…..blah. blah….You can even die’. But I was over it now and the canyon beckoned. We stopped to watch the sunrise and it was indeed beautiful. The trail took us round and round and down and down and anywhere you see, you could only see the canyon. It was a photographer’s dream come true.
8:00 am
It was funny that at this hour, we would normally be in bed and today we were half way down the canyon, by choice! We were eager to get our first view of the river and there it was – so near yet so far! There was no water on the trail but we found an emergency phone tucked away in the canyon walls. It was amazing how technology had reached deepest wilderness! When you are walking the canyon, you are a pedestrian and there are pedestrian traffic rules to be followed, especially mule-rules. When you cross a pack of mules, you wait on the inside and let the mule walk by you on the outside. We had to display our new found knowledge, a couple of times. I found it intriguing, how well-mannered and disciplined the mules were, inspite of walking so many miles with heavy loads on their backs.
We finally crossed the black bridge and reached the river-bed at 9:30 am. The Phantom Ranch is nestled in the heart of the canyon and appeared to be in a world of its own. The only contact it had with the human world was an emergency phone. We had our modest lunch (1 banana, 1 apple, 1 snack bar) with our feet in the river and started on our way back at about 11 am.
11:30 am
We took the Bright Angel trail on our way up as it was less steeper than the South Kaibab trail. A signboard near the river had suggested that one should soak their clothes in water to stay cool in the hot sun. It was almost noon and we started feeling the hot sun on us and soaking our clothes helped us stay cool and preserve the body fluids. The sun felt hotter and hotter as we climbed up and miraculously, the backpacks also started putting on weight. We were now taking more rest stops to soak our clothes and replenish body fluids. We reached the mid-way spot, Indian Garden, after about 3 hours. After a nice rest, we started again and to our surprise the trail became very very flat and we felt that something was wrong. Luckily, we had trail maps and soon realized that we had taken a detour to a lookout point and had to walk 2 miles to return all the way to Indian Garden to get back on track. I was really mad at myself for this mistake which luckily did not cost us much as we had enough time to recover.
3:20 am – 4.5 miles to go
The next milestone was the 3-mile rest house, which took awfully long to appear. The last 3 miles were never ending and we felt like stopping at every corner. Luckily for us, the sun had disappeared behind clouds so we did not need much fluids. We had to tackle only the physical exhaustion and the glucose tablets we swallowed gave us some extra boost to reach the next milestone, the 1.5 mile rest house. The adventure was slowly becoming an ordeal and the last mile seemed impossible but as soon as we caught sight of the building at the top, our spirits soared and we knew that we had done it!! We were at the top in 15 min and took a moment to look back at the feat we had accomplished. We had hiked to the Colorado river and back in one day – 12 hours. The feeling was exhilarating and without a word we walked to our car………
Link to pictures:
http://ashraghu.smugmug.com/gallery/792043