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And It Burns, Burns, Burns

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A 17-mile hike through 100 plus degree weather doesn’t sound very pleasing to me. Yet, it is one of my most major accomplishments. My family and I hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon from the South Rim and back up the next morning. It was very special to me, and probably more so to my dad. His fiftieth birthday came on the day of our hike out, so now he can brag, “I turned 50 in the bottom of the Grand Canyon,” and hold that over basically everyone. But still, don’t let me underestimate. It was very, very special and it is one of my fondest successes due to the accomplishment, the scenery, and the feelings I felt going through it.

The hike itself was about 17 miles. We went down the South Kaibab trail, which was about seven miles or so and took us about three hours. We came up the Bright Angel trail, which was about ten miles and wasn’t as steep. It also had water, so we could refill our water packs every time we reached one. Those ten miles took us about eight hours. The reason for the time jump was the slope of the trails. From top to bottom, elevation changed a whole 4,380 feet. That adds up to an average grade of about ten percent. Going down, you’re with gravity. Going up...yeah, it burned.

Another thing that burned was the sun. For the whole hike, it scorched us and toasted us like an oven. At the very bottom, the temperature read out at 140 degrees in the sun and 115 in the shade. On the hike up, thankfully, there were clouds constantly roaming the skies. They occasionally blocked out the sun. That provided a moment of reprieve which me and my dad would use to jump from one shaded area to the next, out of the heat of the sun.

Contrary to the actual hike, the canyon itself was absolutely gorgeous. It was huge, but the whole thing was beautiful. It was orange, red, brown; all of the rocks combining together to create a perfect image. All that was needed was a little green, which was given later in Indian Garden and down by the campground. About two thirds of the way down South Kaibab was a viewpoint with a stunning view of the Colorado River. It took my breath away. (There was also a drop off a few feet in front of me, which probably took some of it, too.) It’s impossible to describe it truely, but believe me when I say it was downright spectacular.

Along with the feelings of wonder and shock and awe that I had while looking at the canyon, I had obvious muscle soreness and mental tiredness. My muscles were burning, tired of fighting gravity. My mind and body were exhausted and wanted to curl up into a ball and sleep. I wanted to stop so badly, but I didn’t. We all didn’t. We kept going. And after we reached the trailhead, I looked back and thought, “I just hiked the Grand Canyon.”

This hike sticks in my brain not just because of my burning sore body the next day, but also because of the canyon itself. It was painful to go through (understatement right there), but it’s fun to look back at (kind of). It wasn’t special to me because I turned fifty, like my dad, although it felt like I aged quite a few years. It was special to me because the feeling didn’t go away.



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