The Grand Canyon

April 24, 2010
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My legs burned as we hiked further and further down the steep canyon path. Sweat glistened on my skin as the blazing hot Arizona sun beat down on my tired body. In spite of the harsh environment, my mind was racing with excitement as I thought about how much I had anticipated this two week out-west excursion. I was finally experiencing this amazing opportunity to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

Our hike began at seven o’clock in the morning while the air was still cool and the steep canyon walls shadowed us from the gently rising sun. Excitement pulsed through my veins, pushing me eagerly down the dirt path; we had finally begun our seven mile trek to Phantom Ranch, our final destination. As we continued down the narrow trail we would pause to gaze in wonder at the stunning canyon walls as they seemed to grow higher and higher above us. The sun, dancing on the colorful layers of the rocky canyon walls, rose into the sky until it was almost straight over us. Earlier in the day we had gratefully stopped in shady sanctuaries to escape from the unmercifully intense sunlight, but now those cool havens had dwindled to almost nothing. We persevered down this stretch of trail, fully exposed now to the burning sun and heat as it radiated off the hot rocks and dirt around us. The absolute stillness and complete silence emphasized the fact that we were completely isolated; it was just our family of five and the sheer, rocky cliffs of the vast canyon.

Finally, if we stayed really quiet, we could hear the distant rushing of water and knew we were getting very close to our final destination. As we snaked along the canyon walls, we caught glimpses of the wide Colorado River far below. By this time, my body was begging me to stop and take a long break, but my mind was saying, “Keep on going, you’re almost there, just another mile!” Soon we saw a little tunnel followed by a long narrow bridge, extending the entire distance of the wide river. As we approached the dark opening, we noticed standing water on the dirt floor spanning almost the entire width of the tunnel. My dad willingly took off his shoes; and, one by one, he helped us balance as we cautiously walked on the few inches of dry ground above the filthy water. Once we all finally made it through the tunnel with virtually dry feet, we crossed the high bridge. We could see a group of rafters getting ready to embark on their adventure as we finished ours.

We finally reached Phantom Ranch; and as we entered our cabin accommodations, we felt the surprising, but glorious burst of air conditioning to escape the scorching 100 degree heat. Letting the water rush over our tired feet, we waded in a cool creek, and later enjoyed a delicious steak dinner provided by the Phantom Ranch cooks. Tired of granola bars and trail mix and ready for a relaxing sit-down dinner, we all decided it was the best-tasting meal we ever had. As we ate, we reflected on God’s beautiful creation and the great opportunity we had to experience it in such an amazing way. After supper, we climbed into the soft, comfortable beds and drifted off to sleep so that the next day we would be well-rested for our long journey back to the top of the Grand Canyon.

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