Having said good bye and hello to the past few years at the Grand Canyon, I spent many 2017 mornings dreaming about a return visit.
In keeping with tradition, on the first day of 2018, we took Highway 89 through Kanab, Lee's Ferry, and over the one bridge that crosses the mighty Colorado River and, finally, leads to the Grand Canyon. We descended the Kaibab Plateau at dusk and were greeted by a massive wolf moon rising over the vibrant red Vermillion cliffs. I'm sure that's a sign that 2018 will bring more amazing adventures for the J-B pack.
And then,...the long, moonlit drive through the dark desert to the South Rim.
The next morning we voluntarily skipped showers and drank coffee out of paper cups instead of Mimbreno China. A pump had broken and, in the desert, water is more important than coffee cups. Besides, this was not just any pump, this was the one pump that pushes Grand Canyon Village's only water supply up from the bottom of the canyon, after it is piped across the canyon from a spring on the North Rim. We did not complain as we sipped yummy coffee and hot chocolate in the historic dining room of El Tovar.
We took the South Kaibab Trail down into the canyon. Thankfully the weather was great, trails were dry and wind was minimal.
We passed two mule trains... or did they pass us?
One crew of mules was lugging heavy loads of rock back and forth for trail maintenance. Two strong and dusty cowgirls were managing the monotonous walk, dump, turn and start again process. Mules do not complain. The cowgirls weren't complaining. We should all stop complaining!
As if the Grand Canyon isn't a religious experience by itself!
We hiked more than three miles down and then another three back up. The kids skipped ahead as I put one foot in front of the other, one step at a time, all the way back up. Now who's complaining? These kids are old enough to be interested and capable of big hikes, but maybe I'm too old?
It is a lot of switchbacks, though...