Sunday, December 18, 2005
Hiking in Grand Canyon
This is really special... Grand Canyon !
People go there, take pictures and come back! Not only we did that, but also hiked all the way down to a place from where you can see the Colorado river. I think it is kewl !!
We had this hike planned way early and pretty well. I have done hikes/trekking before in india in western ghaats of Maharashtra and Karnataka, so have some good experience. As you can imagine there is whole lot of information available about Grand Canyon trails and hikes on the internet and so it was much easier to plan ahead. Going to Grand Canyon for a hike from Bay Area is about 13 hours journey by road and a good night sleep was much needed before we could start hiking the next day morning. We stayed over at a small town, Williams, about 50 miles from Grand Canyon and the plan was to start hiking early next morning.
We reached the starting point of our trail, bright angel trailhead, around 7:30 am. On our way (1 hour drive) to Grand Canyon we saw the SunRise on the horizon of the desert around and by now it was getting a little warmer. But that was not enough for me. It was freezing cold. I had never even been in that freezing temparature. My finger tips, inspite under the gloves, were paining. I realized that my snicker shoes arent good enough to keep my feet warm. and I thought may be we should just take a walk here, get some patel snaps and go home :)
But, I was'nt that unlucky! We got some more information from the visitor center. When we reahced the trailhead, the sight of Grand Canyon was amazingly beautiful. The fresh sun light hitting the huge canyon was a treat to eyes. We could see the Indian Garden from the top and I was now thinking of going there. The days are short in winter so we had to reach back before 5 pm. We knew it was going to be tough climbing back up coz it was too steep. But, all 3 of us really wanted to get to that Indian Garden, about 6 miles. We decided that we will reconsider the decision of going back every hour depending on where we are... engineers, you know !!
We started at around 8:15. It was still very cold. The worst thing was that I was carrying water, food items and some more thing in a GAP carry bag. I know its a crime not to have a good backpack for such hikes, but I just could not manage it. Going down was easy and fun even in cold. I had never done a trek which starts with going down first. I would recommend everyone who is planning to go see Grand Canyon to do this hike there (if they are capable), and thats because when you go down, you can see the Geology of Grand Canyon. The difference in the layers is very distinct and thats not possible to see from the top.
We made a real good progress in a short time and seeing lot of people around us was really encouraging. We had a good company around us. There was also a tour group to the Indian Garden with us. All these people were taken down and back up on mules. We started almost together and we knew if we stay closer to them, we have better chances of completing this hike. There were 2 intermediate points where you can take water/restroom break. Being winter, water wasnt available. As we were getting down, we could see all the plants, bushes in that desert. This kind of plants, I had never seen before. They grow from the top and die by their bottom, so there height is short and almost constant always!
As we were getting closer to Indian Garden, we realized that we can complete this trek. We reached Indian Gardens at abount 11 am and decided go to the Platteu Point which was another 1.5 miles walk. This is the point, from where you can see the Colorado river, the lowest point of the grand canyon. There was also a trail going straight to the river and it was about 3 miles from there. That was too much considering that we have to climb back up.
The walk to the Platteu Point was more fun. We had come down almost 90% of the slope and this walk was much straighter. we were going to the center of the Canyon and the sight of Huge rocks around us was stunning. Platteu Point is almost at the middle of the Canyon. You can see the North Rim valley also from there. Looking at the Colorado river from there, was also amazing. The valley of another 1000 feet and then the small river flowing between that was worth this hike. We were making plans of going down to the river the next time we come here. There are also colorado river rafting tours that can done. These are 6 days tour, because the valley is soo huge that the only way to do river rafting on this river is you start from one end and get to the other end after 6 days of rafting. There is a loong list of people waiting already for this and if you enroll for that now, you will get your chance in 2007 summer, may be !!
We had food there, took some snaps... I managed to get a nice small video of the entire valley from platteu point on my Canon A610. We then headed back to the Indian gardens. We took another break at the indian gardens and started to climb up. It was about 1:30 pm when we started from there!
With lots of food and water already finished, we decided to put the rest of the stuff in 2 backpacks and carry them in turns on the way up. It wasnt about being engineer, it was about survival... :)
I was having a real tough time climbing up. I never imagined it would be soo steep. It was endless... at every turn I thought the distance to reach back up was increasing and not decreasing. I realized, this is my first trek after the accident and am still not fit to do this kind of a venture, but it was too late. It was all getting on to me. I tried so many things... breathing techniques, baby steps, strategy of setting small targets... but the task was huuuuuge. Among the 3, I was really having a tough time there. I was doing it at my own speed... rather I was crawling. The amount of time spent climbing up was decreasing exponentially and the time taken for the breaks was increasing exponentially, as I was making progress. After about 3.5 hours of crawling, I made it.... and made it before sunset.
Hushhh !! I thought my legs are broken, but the pain due to the cramps was ensuring that they are still there. But, it was very very satisfying... It was alllll worth it!
We didnt bother to watch the sunset now and headed home. On our way back, we realized that we were blessed with such a great bright, sunny day today and everything went to the plan.
Nov 25th, the day after thanksgiving day, 2005, I conquered Grand Canyon!