First let me start by saying this post is loooonnnngggg overdue.
To be honest, I've been struggling with some things since I've been back and just haven't been motivated to write. I started a few times and then just put it down. I guess I just didn't have the space in my brain, or in the day... but was definitely an awesome journey that I want to share, so here goes again.
If you've never been to the Grand Canyon, start planning your trip now, it's totally worth it!
A couple things to note before I continue...
This is my first trip to a National Park
I didn't grow up in this country so I don't have much to compare it to, but the Grand Canyon has been on my bucket list since I realized I loved hiking
I'm a dork and I like it
Anyhow, moving right along...
We started our journey in Las Vegas, I had to be there for work and my best friend met me there from Cali. We started our trip on Friday morning, I can't tell you how long exactly it took us because we made approximately 900 stops along the way. Every time something caught our eye we slowed down, pulled over, oohhed and ahhed, snapped some pictures and then kept moving (until we saw something else that caught our eye!) Lake Mead was our first "unplanned" stop. It was so beautiful from the sky when I was flying in, I had to see it up close. It was beautiful and absolutely worth it!! We attempted the to make it to the Hoover Dam just a few miles away, but everyone else had the same idea, and patience is not one of my strong suites, so we kept moving.
After 899 more stops, a couple of hours on the freeway and 30 minutes of dirt roads, cows, and prairie dogs, we made it to our super cute little bunkhouse in Seligman, Arizona. We wanted to break up our trip a bit and enjoy some of the rural beauty that we don't get in our respective metropolises so o this place totally fit the bill!
One of my favorite parts of this trip (other than bonding with my bestie!) was the stars that blanketed the sky at the bunkhouse. It was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. I've lived in one city or another for most of my life and I have NEVER seen that many stars! They were everywhere, almost dripping around us like a dome placed gently overhead. Amazing is an understatement. We sat on the star tower for over almost an hour even though we were poorly dressed for the chilly 32 degrees. We just couldn't stop staring.
After our star staring party we called it a night, because of course there would be sunrise viewing party as well in this magical place, plus we wanted to get an early start at the Grand Canyon.
We hit the road by 6am on Saturday morning. The sunrise was beautiful, but nowhere as epic as the stars the night before so I won't bother with the details.
Anyhow. We made our way back along the dirt and gravel roads back to civilization and hightailed it to Williams and on to the Grand Canyon!
We made it to the park by about 8:15am (go us!) and it was National Park Week so entrance was free! We were anxious to get on the trail so we parked near our lodge, got our gear and hopped on the shuttle to the South Kaibab Trailhead.
Sidebar: Late April, right after spring break is an AWESOME time to go! The weather was amazing and it wasn't very crowded at all.
When got off the shuttle bus we were distracted by the mules in the stable next to the trail. But after a short detour we made it over to the rim of the canyon and Oh. My. God. Seriously. It was amazing. I know I just said this about the stars the bunkhouse from the night before, but this is one of the most amazing things I've ever seen!! We just stood there for a moment taking it all in since it was the first glimpse of the canyon we got.
We finally stop oohhing and ahhing, strapped on our daypacks and start moving down the trail. We initially planned to hike to Skeleton Point which is 3 miles out and 3 miles back. Seemed perfectly doable, but yeah, That didn't happen. You thought we stopped a lot on our drive down? We stopped a zillion times on the way down into the Canyon. Pictures had to be taken. It was phenomenal. So beautiful, so vast, so expansive. It was breath taking.
We took a little break at the first overlook, the famous Ohh Ahh point. We for sure oohed and ahhed. Ever direction as far as you could see was this interesting array of brown, orange and red canyon with speckles of greenery growing in between the rock.
We continued down, smiling and greeting the sweating, tired hikers making their way back up.
Sidebar: One thing I love about hiking is nearly everyone smiles and acknowledges their fellow hikers. There aren’t very many non-white folks and even fewer women of color, but I never felt like I didn't belong. I think we all just felt lucky to be able to witness this magical place.
We eventually made it down to Cedar Ridge, the second marker on the trail. We decided to hang out there for a bit, walk out to the edge, take zillions pictures, have a snack and potty break instead of going on to Skeleton Point.
This was a wise decision. Because as beautiful as it was coming down, we still had make the trek back up to the rim. It was slow and steady, but definitely nothing to blink at. It was mostly heavy breathing and relaying on my trekking poles to push me along. But I didn't do too bad for a plus size, curvy girl's first trip to the Grand Canyon. :)
Once we made it back up to the trailhead we sat on the rim and let our feet dangle over the edge while we chatted and enjoyed the view. I was proud of myself and I was having the time of my life.
We eventually hopped back on the shuttle and headed over to Yaki Point, another beautiful spot on the Canyon. We walked back to the Visitor’s Center from there for a few souvenirs, then headed to our lodge for a much needed shower! We had dinner at the old El Tovar lodge and took in the sunset there as well. We were too wiped and too late to make it to one of the more popular sunset lookout points, but it was still magnificent.