How I survived the Grand Canyon

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Before flying off to the States, Grand Canyon was part of the plan of the trip. But, I had no idea what to prepare. I did prepared myself with good hiking shoes, sport attires, sunshades, sunblocks, anything that I felt it’s necessary for the prep before hiking. But I wasn’t sure if that’s enough preparation. Was my body fit enough for the hike, am I strong enough to endure the 3/6 miles hike? 3 miles hike down won’t be a problem, but 3 miles hike up back to the canyon, now that’s a different story. With that solely preparation that I had, we went to the Grand Canyon. We went to Cathedral Rock a day before for the Canyon pre-hike. Thought it was enough, but I can’t never be so wrong. 20140127_005800

Due to the pre-hike at Cathedral Rock a day before, we overslept on theday of the Grand Canyon hike. We supposed to wake up at 630am, so we can be at the canyon around 8am. But, fate intervened, we woke up at 9am instead and reached the canyon by noon. What we have prepared ourselves with that time apart from the sports attire was a 1.5 litre of bottled water, cookies, energy boosting snacks, chocolate covered raisin (yummy!) and smartphone that was 80% of battery left at that time. There wasn’t any headlights, sleeping bag or blanket and not even power bank that we brought with us.
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We started the hike at noon, it was pretty hot and less humid. I even can see my skin was so dry that I can see my skin was like cracking. I brought a bottle of lotion with me but apparently, to avoid from us getting exhausted quickly for carrying so much weight, both of us decided to leave the lotion in the car. It’s not really a big mistake but it kinda freak you out when you saw your leg looked like a cracking porcelain. Anyway, it was so hot and we managed to reserve enough water until we reached to the first rest house.

It was 1.5 miles away from the top of the canyon, the spot that you started the hike. Lots of people were at the first rest-house. And you started to see lesser people as you reached to the second rest house. The view was so breathtaking that I slipped several times while hiking down because I just can’t stop looking up, enjoying the scenery of the canyon. Once we reached the second rest house, this will be the major turning point. There was even a sign stating..

“It’s optional for you to go down, but it’s MANDATORY to go up..”

Yeah, they highlighted so much on the mandatory part. Most people will start to turn away and going back up before it gets too dark. But we, as the most confident pair at the canyon, decided to proceed for another 3 miles, with a goal to reach for the cliff. We didn’t feel any exhaustion at all. We were hiking down and we didn’t realize what have we got ourselves into in the next several hours. We kept hiking down until we reached at the bottom of the canyon, before the Indian Garden. It was 3pm that time and we already heard a rattling noise, suspected coming from rattlesnake. More interesting stories to come when I touched about the hike up adventure later.
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Once we reached the Indian Garden, we saw lots of tent were being set up there. This is the place where you’re going to stay if you decided to camp at the Grand Canyon. By the time we reached the Indian Garden, our leg started to feel sore, at least my legs were. We rested about 15 mins, refilled the water and continued towards the cliff. I kept filling my mouth the energy snacks and chocolate covered raisins to supply the energy. I was already hungry at that time and my mind was torturing me by showing the image in my head of medium rare lamb steak with mashed potato gravy and salted asparagus with iced cold Dr. Pepper.

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I was between the bottom of the canyon and the cliff
Before reaching to the cliff. No trees, not even rocks for some shades
Before reaching to the cliff. No trees, not even rocks for some shades

If the weather was so hot for you, you can find some rocks as shelters but not when you’re heading towards the cliff. When we were between the bottom of canyon and the cliff, it was 3:30pm and it was so hot like I can feel like my head was cooked medium rare the same as the image of the lamb steak in my head earlier. I couldn’t get any shelter, there wasn’t any tiny trees or rocks to give you some shades. We had to make several stops for water before reaching to the cliff and finally we did!

The view at the cliff
The view at the cliff
Sitting at the cliff, enjoying the view of Colorado River
Sitting at the cliff, enjoying the view of Colorado River
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The breathtaking view

We managed to take an hour nap at the cliff before heading back up. Now, here’s where the interesting stories started. We started to head back to Indian Garden at 5pm. It wasn’t hot anymore but it started to get cloudy. It was so quiet when we passed the Indian Garden. We didn’t really see a single soul there until we heard some footsteps not far from us. It was so quiet that you can hear somebody’s footsteps heading towards you. It turned out it was an old man around mid 50s who was hiking up back to the canyon much more faster than us. We managed to see a sunset at the canyon and enjoyed the nature, but we did not aware enough the amount of trouble that we’re going to get for ourselves.

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Starting from the location of the photos above, we can hear multiple sounds from the rattlesnakes. Apart from that old man that we bumped into, we saw some hikers were preparing some headlight for the night hike. With all the preparations and timing that we had, we were about to do a night hike back to the top of the canyon. And guess what? My phone was at 70% at that time. That will be our only headlight for the night, shared by two people. Yeah, I was reserving the battery of the phone since I used my camera more than the phone (thankfully!).

We started off the hike without the phone and we felt good because we can see how far more to go to the top. As we reached close to 7:30pm, it was so dark and quiet that I had to take out the phone. Wouldn’t want to fall down from the high canyon, would you? I had some concern that the battery might not last as we can’t really see how close we were to the top. The night was starting to get chilly and windy, and yet, we didn’t have any blanket or sleeping bags to stay at the rest house in case our only light source was running out of battery. We had to hike up back to the canyon no matter what. It’s a race against time and the battery life. We wished we could hike up faster so we won’t have the concern of losing the battery life but we were extremely exhausted.

We were so happy once we reached to the checkpoints such as the rest house and ‘the gate’ as what we called. It was like a big hole between the rocks that we called it as gate and there were two gates to be passed. It’s like Frodo & Sam were heading to Mordor. Tired, but still heading for it. Once we passed the final gate and saw a light coming from the cabin nearby, we were extremely happy and thankful that we made out alive! We reached to the top at 930pm. It was 9 hours and 30 mins in total for the entire hike and while most people are chilling in their cabin, enjoying the comfy bed, we have to endure another an hour an half back to the hotel in Flagstaff. It was indeed such an emotional victory for me to conquer the Grand Canyon!

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