Get your kicks on Route 66; and in Flagstaff. We both woke up on Day 9 excited to see that Grand Canyon and all it had to offer. We found a small local diner, called the Galaxy Diner on Route 66 that we decided to stop at for breakfast. The omelets we had hit the spot, and they kept us full for our trek down the canyon. We drove the hour and a half out to the Canyon, where we were met by tons of cars, buses, and Winnebago’s. Not knowing what we were going to do, or what was worth doing, we first headed over to the visitor center to get some maps, and our bearings.
The heat was something else entirely; it was over 95 degrees and 0% humidity, something we definitely weren’t used to. There were park rangers who were stationed around ready to answer any questions we had about the parks and the different hikes. When we asked which hikes would be worth doing, the ranger looked at her watch, and said that we should be very careful with how far we hike and how deep into the Canyon we go. This was the first day of the heatwave that was coming in, and the heat only got worse as you went deeper into the Canyon. After some hike suggestions, we said thank you, and headed to the rim to get our first look, and let me tell you, it takes your breath away. Pictures honestly don’t do it justice, you really have to be there to get to full effect and really be able to appreciate the sheer size of it. Mather Point gave us some breathtaking views, but then it was on to our next stop.
We hopped on the shuttle bus that took you around the Canyon, and our shuttle driver was sure to give us all some lessons about the Canyon and its history as we went along. When we approached the South Kaibab trailhead (where we were getting off), our driver said “all the smiling faces you see on this hike, is only on the faces of the folks going down. When you’re coming back up, it’s a different story.” As we started our decent into the Canyon, we quickly realized that we were those happy smiling people, unaware of what was waiting for us. The ranger had all warned us that it was going to be a scorcher of a day, and to bring tons of extra water, so we made sure to fill up before we left. We started the hike with eight full water bottles, and ended with one.
When we first started hiking, our goal was to get to Ooh Aah Point, just .9 miles down into the Canyon, but as we approached it, we figured it wouldn’t be a terrible idea to keep going for a bit to the next stop in the trail: Cedar Point, only .6 miles further. We took a quick snack break at the bottom and thankful for our “Complete Foods” purchases, we started heading back up to the top. There was a shack at Cedar Point where the mules could be tied up and rested, and on it was a thermometer, which stated plainly that it was 101 degrees Fahrenheit. With that, we quickly started walking.
The ascent was much more difficult, and both Mike and I were clutching our water bottles and drinking whenever there was a turn in the trail. At every shady area, we stopped for a quick break, as the dry heat was quite overbearing at times. After a total three mile hike, we finally made it back to the top where we could soak in our accomplishment. Knowing there was still more to be seen, we headed over to the shuttle stop where we made a wild friend; an elk was walking around the stop looking for water near the pump. As soon as we started pumping, it got nearer, trying to drink as much as it could before the spout ran dry. Being extremely cautious, we waiting around for a few minutes before the shuttle bus came back around, and we hopped on. The next stop was Yaki Point, which is apparently one of the best places to see the sunset from, but honestly any place around the Grand Canyon is a beautiful place to see any kind of landscape/nature/sunset.
It was time to head back to the visitor center to figure out our next move. When we got there we of course browsed the gift shop for a bit, not only for the memorabilia but also to bask in the air conditioning. Just down the rim was Yavapai Point, where a geological museum of sorts was located. We decided to take the leisurely walk along the rim, stopping occasionally for snacks and water, over to Yavapai. There was so much to see and learn, as there were tons of posters and different models to show what the canyon looks like from every angle. I learned what kind of rock is at each different point in the stone, and I also learned that the Colorado River has been the same depth and size since it first started flowing, and that gravity is the force that has carved the Canyon for the past millions of years.
It’s amazing the things you can learn without even realizing it. At this point it was almost 5pm, and knowing that we had an hour and a half drive back to Flagstaff, we decided to call it a day. As we drove home we saw parts of the sunset, and said goodbye to an absolutely beautiful piece of American landscape. The main thing I took away from the day was that where we were standing at the rim of the Canyon was 7000 feet above sea level. That’s halfway up Mount Rainier, and we were at the top of it, looking down at a river that we could barely see.
I took a long shower that night to really clean off all the dirt and dust that had accumulated throughout the day, before heading to dinner. Although we really did want to try some of the local food, we settled for Chipotle, a safe bet when it was nearly 8pm and we wanted something healthy-ish.
I’ll be honest, I still can’t believe I saw the Grand Canyon; the sheer size alone is absolutely amazing and I can’t believe that it actually exists. A 30 mile Canyon exists in Arizona, and it’s absolutely beautiful. I will recommend the trip to anyone who is even remotely on the fence about going, because trust me, it will most definitely be worth it.