We left the warm California coast with its refreshing salty breezes and were assaulted by a wall of heat. Welcome to the desert. My car doesn’t have AC, and that made this part of the trip more than a little rough. I think I sat in a pool of my own sweat for a week; it was beyond disgusting. At least in California when we rolled the windows down we got hit with cool air; once we crossed into Arizona, Utah and Nevada there was no such relief. The air blowing in through the windows was hot, but if we rolled up the windows we effectively created a sauna, so it was really a lose-lose situation. Thankfully I’ve put enough sunscreen on my left side throughout this whole trip to avoid the half and half tanned look, because ultimately windows down won. After spending a night in Jacob Lake in the car (there was much debate on where to park for the night, the woods suddenly become a lot more menacing when darkness falls), we drove the remaining 30 minutes to the Grand Canyon National Park.
We spent our Grand Canyon time wandering around the North Rim, which included taking on the Kaibab Trail – the only trail on that side of the canyon that actually goes down into the canyon. Since we tend to be late starters we couldn’t go much farther than about two miles in, which was at first a little disappointing but ultimately a good thing. The hike down was a piece of cake, and as we were joyfully trekking in it didn’t feel like it was that steep. Within an hour we had dropped about 1,500 feet into the canyon, at which point a ranger passed us with a thunderstorm warning. He said that the day before it hailed and then rained heavily for about 3 hours. We weren’t too keen on being stuck in the canyon, but we didn’t want to turn around either, so we continued on down for another 20 minutes before turning around.
Turns out, hiking back UP 1,500 feet in two miles isn’t as easy as hiking down it. Due to the impending thunderstorm, the temperature dropped about 25 degrees and instead of the torrential downpour we were expecting it lightly drizzled, which was quite rejuvenating. We trudged back out to the booming echo of thunder rolling through the canyon, which was quite cool. With the drop in temperature our hike was only about 3.5 hrs round-trip. I ran into the park ranger at the top and got to talking to him…he’s 73 years old and does the hike to the bridge (not much more past where we ended up) at least 2 or 3 times a week. Sometimes he has to help people with injuries back up the canyon about halfway down and has to repeat the whole hike at least 2 times in one day. He’s 73!! I’m 23 and that hike almost killed me even with the temperature drop! I don’t know if that’s more a testament to how bad ass he is or how much of a fat ass I’ve become. 🙂 We said goodbye to my new hero and drove around to a few more lookout points before making our move to Utah to check out Bryce Canyon.