Backpacking in the
Land Rover: 1 2003 Disco
Location: Grand Canyon National Park
* put food or food like items in Ammo cans A.S.A.P. (ammo cans are provided)
This is the day I have been waiting for since December. We were finally leaving for the Grand Canyon, for my first backpacking trip. The trip was six hours, a ton of gas and alot of patience. As we got closer I saw a forest, but no Canyon. I looked at the map for one last time to be sure that I was not dreaming. Yup… I was at the Grand Canyon, WAHOOO!!!! We entered the park and looked out the window and saw two elk, and 1 chubby Smoky the Bear statue, and alot of tourists.
Our first stop was the back country office to weigh our backpacks before they closed for the day. My pack weighed around 18 lbs. without water. Next we walked out to look at the Canyon. I was amazed at how beautiful it was. I had only seen it in pictures and videos, but NEVER in real life before. The size was massive, something so big I can’t describe it. Along the path to the rim there were examples of the different rock layers of the Grand canyon. There is some beautiful limestone, that I could only imagine climbing. We walked around some more and saw some elk prints and scat.
It was time for dinner so we, drove around and found a spot to eat. I had bowl of Chili and for dessert I ate cheese cake. I was loading up for tomorrows hike. After Dinner my mom noticed that there was a gift shop next door, so we decided to look around. I saw what I was looking for, a bandana that has a map of the Grand Canyon on it. We bought it and went back to our campsite. We waited for our friends Ella, her parents and her cousin,Tyler. My mom and I went to sleep early since it was so cold. We had to sleep diagonally across the back of the Disco. It was not so comfortable for her, but I did ok.
The first day of Backpacking
The Backcountry Office is where we started at. We left at about 8:15 since the bus was late. We all rode the packed bus to the South Kaibab trail head. The S. Kaibab is a seven mile trail to the bottom and Phantom Ranch, we will be camping there for two nights. I started out pretty strong, excited, curious, and amazed. The further you go down the trail, the more exciting it gets. You can look back and see all of the zig-zags which are called switchbacks. Every time that I wanted to stop I looked around. I was surrounded by beauty, and found enough energy to continue my trek. Somewhere half way down I got so far ahead, I couldn’t see the group.
Once I got a glimpse of the Colorado River I sped up from excitement. I especially sped up when I saw the Black Suspension Bridge (or Mule Train). When we finally got to the tunnel
(that leads right onto the bridge) we stopped, and waited for Ella and her dad, that way we could get a picture and walk across together.
Once we had crossed we saw the livestock barn (A.K.A. the mule barn). We took a smaller bridge across Bright Angel Creek (which is how Brighty the mule got his name). Ella and her dad went to eat lunch while we grabbed a campsite. We found one and put our packs down and went to the bathrooms. We were gone for less then 5 Min. and one of the grizzly like squirrels already got into the small unzipped side pouch of my pack, and had got a hold of my electrolyte gel pack. I had to shoo him away and throw out my electrolytes and put all of the food in the ammo boxes,which are provided for you, by U.S.F.S.. We also found out that the Ringed Tail Cats will climb the posts(where you hang your packs from squirrels at night) and take any food or plastic bags.
After the rest of the group came down my mom, and Ella’s mom, went to get some lemonade. So Ella and I played in our tent. Later in the day we had “Backpackers Pantry” black bean chili pie, it’s my favorite one, but I like the “Mountain House” Macaroni and cheese, most of all. After we ate dinner we went to bed, and as you try to fall asleep, you can hear Bright Angel Creek. You could hear the water rushing and the rocks tumbling. The water was higher and faster then normal, so the large rocks were rolling into one another under the water, and it all sounded so exciting, and yet it was all so soothing it put you to sleep.
No hiking today
Today we were going to just have fun, relax and go swimming, well not actually swimming but taking a dunk or two(in the Colorado River), but either way it’s fun !!!!!! I remember how cold the water was and it was …. 51 degrees F. But I still got in, despite the cold, it was a little numbing, but refreshing. I only decided to go under when we moved to a safer spot, because where we were before, was a parking lot for river rafters. Besides, the new area was much safer and protected from the currents. I submerged myself at least 6 times, including the time that I half dunked myself when my foot slipped underwater. From the new spot we saw about 4 small wooden row boats, called dories, and even more rafts coming around the canyon bend.
I met two girls about my age from North Carolina. We played and we put river mud all over our stomachs’ and our legs. Then, we took some river mud and some sand from the small beach we were on, and mixed the two together and rolled them into mud balls. We made one really big one named Mr.Mudball then we made a Mr. Mudball Jr., then got into a war. It was so much fun. While we were playing,
I looked across the river we saw a big dust cloud, and out from the dust cloud came a mule train with passengers.
They were going to go through the tunnel to use the black suspension bridge and cross the river. I am not
sure but I think the bridge is forty feet above the river, or more.
Our parents decided we had enough sun for the day, and it was time to head back for lunch.
My mom and I went back to the campground to find Ella and her family. They had already headed back before we did. We found them playing games and drinking cold lemonade in the canteen, with other campers. At the canteen there is games to play, postcards to send (sent by mule), souvenirs to buy, and a few food items that were a little expensive. Ella and I played Bananagrams, a Grand Canyon board game, and a couple of other games, all while drinking our lemonade. After that Ella and I went to the ranger station(with our parents) and became Junior Rangers of the Grand Canyon, they give you these really cool patches with a Grand Canyon Pink Rattlesnake on them and you can only get these patches at Phantom Ranch, The Bottom of the Grand Canyon.
They say “GRAND CANYON JUNIOR RANGER , PHANTOM RATTLER”.
I am going to put it on my bright red, OSPREY backpack. We also given a pin and a few stickers. That night we skipped the Ranger talk, and went to bed early. In the morning, we would start our hike up to Indian Gardens campground. We wanted to get an early start to avoid the heat on the way up the canyon.
Second day of Hiking
Today we would hike out, go across the silver bridge, hike along the Colorado River, depart from the river and start heading for Indian Gardens campground. It is slight uphill and a a couple of steep sections, one is called “Jacobs ladder”. I think that was probably the most tiring day of all. But once we got there, it was worth it, because of the beauty. At Indian Gardens there weren’t very many people camping. It was also very quiet, the bathrooms were well kept and clean and so were the campsites. We set up our tent, and took a nap.
It was Easter weekend, so we decided now would be a good time for an Easter egg hunt. I had some in my backpack that I already stuffed. I distracted Ella and her mom while everyone else hid the eggs. We came back from washing our hands and Ella said, “Why is there an Easter egg here?”. She eventually found out that the Easter Bunny came through and set up an Easter Egg hunt. I gave her these cute little sparkly blue bunny ears to wear for her hunt. After we had found all the Easter eggs, Ella Had one more than I did so she gave one to me so it would be even. We ate some candy and then we climbed into Ella’s tent and played crazy eights. It was a little hot, and some dark clouds were coming over the top of the canyon wall, so we stayed close to the campsite most of the day.
Third day of Hiking
Today is the last day, and also Easter Sunday. I cant wait to speak to my dad and Sydney. But, first I need to just hike all of the way up to the top of the canyon. Its about 5 miles and 3200’ of uphill hiking. It would be a long hike considering the fact that I had already hiked two days, and I was sore. Not only that, there was no more shade! This section of the canyon felt steeper then the lower part. We hiked for awhile, took rests and ate gummy bears for energy. I had these “sport beans”, jelly belly beans with electrolytes and sugar for energy. I had a hard time eating them, they tasted a little weird to me. I just kept sipping my water to wash it down.
As I hiked up the canyon, I kept distracting myself from the tired feeling by looking at the amazing view, and listening to Ella sing from her carrier. She makes me laugh by singing silly songs from preschool. Toward the top, we saw more and more people(Tourists too). Some, are running, some are day hikers, and some are backpackers. We also pass another mule train with passengers. The rule is “get off the trail and wait for the mules to pass”, I recognized most from Phantom Ranch. After the mules pass, I look up and realize that the rim is a long way up!, The switchbacks feel like they will never end.
We continued to hike slow, but steady. If you stop for too long, it’s hard to get moving again, so we just go. Then I see the arch over the trail, it’s like a window but the trail goes straight through, we are near the top! At the trail end, we take a picture and look back at our long hike. It felt really good to accomplish this trip. I learned alot and realized how fun being uncomfortable can actually be. I WILL go back again, next time I would like to backpack to the north rim. But now, all I want is a big juicy hamburger and french fries at the Bright Angel Lodge!!!!!!! After lunch we went to buy my board game and also a little something special for my sister, Sydney. We wound up getting a small little mule stuffed animal, who is supposed to be Brighty of the Grand Canyon, which is a wonderful book that Sydney is reading. It was hard to part with such a beautiful canyon, so large and so historic!!!! But yet I managed to do so, finally!!!!