What Goes Down Must Come Up, The Grand Canyon and The Time My Wife Tried To Kill Me
As I desperately tried to catch my breath, I looked up to see my wife several yards in front of me on the trail. She was barely tired and not sweating at all. I had long since shed my jacket, and every step forward felt like it would be my last. The backpack I was carrying with our camera gear, must have weighed a thousand pounds. My hamstrings felt like they were on fire. I faked a desire to take a picture of some random vista so that we could stop our assent. Charise paused, looked back at me and smugly smiled. It was at this point I realized…she was trying to kill me…
Before my wife set her diabolical plan into motion, we were merely on a trip to the Grand Canyon. It was Thanksgiving weekend, and the national park was full of people. We drove into the park and found a spot in the crowded lot. After visiting the welcome center, we headed to a lookout point for our first view of the canyon. It lived up to the name “Grand.” It’s so vast that it's hard to take it in with one viewing. In fact, it’s so large that it kind of looks fake. My brain kept telling me it couldn't be real. The Canyon is 277 miles long and up to 19 miles wide. It would take you two days to hike to the bottom and back. If you wanted to drive around the entire thing, you’d end up covering over 1000 miles. It’s huge!
The Kaibab Trail and The Fight For My Life
After we looked around for awhile, we boarded a bus for the Kaibab trail. It was a trail Charise suspiciously picked out on her own. The trail runs all the way down to the bottom of the canyon. We stopped short, however, and just hiked the 3-mile loop from the top of the canyon to Cedar Ridge.
As these things usually go, the hike down was no sweat. Despite the steep trail and moving over to let mules pass, we made great time to Cedar Ridge. We both agreed that the views from inside the canyon are better than the views from the top. It’s also much easier to get a sense of the scope of the canyon from inside it. Fewer tourists are a plus as well. Plan to do at least one hike into the canyon when you visit. But don't forget, every step down into the canyon is one more step you have to take to get out.
Once we reached Cedar Ridge, we broke out the hammocks and ate lunch. The weather was great that time of year, and it was nice to relax and enjoy being inside the canyon. After we looked around and took some pictures, we packed up and got ready to head out. Because it was such an easy hike down, I arrogantly thought it would be a piece of cake to get back out. It only took about a quarter of a mile to realize I was wrong.
The hike back is almost straight up. You wind through steep switchbacks and never-ending stairs. It felt like it was never going to end. It kicked my butt. I like to hike, and we've done some challenging trails, but this hike back up was the worst for me. I knew that the exhaustion must be showing on my face because out of all the people ascending the trail, hikers would pick me to ask, “Is the climb up really that bad?”. Yes, the climb up really was that bad. Charise probably wasn’t trying to kill me, but I absolutely felt like I wanted to die.
It turns out Charise wasn't trying to get rid of me that day. She's just in much better shape than I am. Oddly enough, being a vegetarian and exercising has left her cardiovascular conditioning in tip-top shape. Who would have thought?!?
I climbed out of that canyon a touch more humble and fully aware of what it takes to hike some of these harder trails. Even though it was brutal, I would do it again. It was a gorgeous hike. I may have survived this encounter with the Kaibab Trail, but I'm still not convinced Charise isn't trying to get rid of me. She has several strenuous hikes planned for our Washington trip in September. I'll need to be in better shape by then. I should put this Big Mac down and find a treadmill...