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I’ve struggled with how to begin writing these blog posts recapping our vacation. Do I start with our short trip to Colorado and move forward chronologically or do I jump right into the Grand Canyon and then back track to Colorado? Do I write bullet points so I don’t bore you or write all the details down so it’ll be easier for me to recall events later?

Well… as you can see from the title of this, I’ve decided to jump into the Grand Canyon first. And if I’m being totally honest, it’s partly because those are the first pictures I edited. :) Oh and you’re getting all the details because that’s just how I roll. I will not take any offense if you scroll through and simply look at the pictures.


Hiking in the Grand Canyon was such a profound experience. I felt like I’ve needed this past week or so since we’ve been back to let everything sink in — to feel everything. I suppose that’s a very “tree-hugger” thing for me to say, but it’s entirely true nonetheless. I put so much heart and soul into training for this trip experience and I was rewarded — big time.

Enough of that big picture stuff (we’ll talk more about that later) — let’s start at the beginning. Because if you can’t exactly find the right way to write it, it’s always best to start from the beginning.

David and I stayed in Kanab, Utah the night before we met up with our backpacking group. We learned from last year’s backpacking trip that it’s best to splurge a bit for a nice hotel the night before the trip. (Last year the hotel ran out of hot water in the morning, so I took a shower that was so cold it took my breath away and David didn’t even get to shower — which was awful as you can imagine and even worse that we were going to go 3 days without any shower at all.) Needless to say, we learned our lesson. This time around we read reviews, seriously looked at every picture, and did not go through Priceline. Everything worked out so well this time! We stayed at Canyons Lodge. It was so nice and adorable!

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They even added a personal touch to the room — a card on the bed with our names on it that welcomed us there and to tell us what the weather would be like the following day.



As we were packing our backpacks that night, we got a lot of use out of having two beds in the room. We ended up leaving a few items in the car the next day, but here’s a overall view of what all we pack (in case you’ve ever wondered).


David’s stuff


My stuff

Remember how I said that we had to bring our own lunch and snack food on this trip? Here’s a closer look at what exactly we brought along.


Believe it or not, we came back with quite a bit of food. We brought back 2 apples, some jerky, at least 2 nut butter packets, and a handful of meal replacement bars.

Once we got everything squared away, we climbed into bed hoping to get a goodnight’s sleep. But with two nervous/anxious people like David and I? Yeah, that didn’t happen.

The next morning as we were making our way to breakfast we ran into Jessica and Rob, two people that were going on the trip, too! All four of us must have been super excited and nervous because we chatted a lot in the short 15 minutes we had breakfast together. We learned they just got married over Labor Day weekend and this was their honeymoon! How exciting and well…ballsy! To tackle this type of adventure on your honeymoon is quite a feat, but as we quickly found out they are both very athletic people and it just made sense for them to do an active vacation rather than lying around a pool or a beach. I also gave them the heads up at breakfast that David is quite the competitor and will likely try to be in the first in our hiking line or as close to it as he could get. As we were about to head out to our meet-up spot, we met yet another person who was going on the trip — Jamie. Kanab is a small town, but I didn’t know it was quite that small. What a coincidence! We all parted ways only to meet back up at Honey’s Marketplace with the entire group.

Look who we found at the meet-up spot

Look who we found at the meet-up spot — Mater!

Remember how David and I were so meticulous about what we packed the night before and how we were packing it, well, we had to unpack everything to show our two guides, Todd and Tom, what all we were going to carry. *sigh* All of us got a brief orientation as to what we should really bring and what we should leave behind. They wanted us to enter the canyon with just 30 pounds on our back (or as close to that as we could get). I say *just* 30 because David and I had been training with 35+ pounds and in Shenandoah we carried about 35-40. This was the first clue that this would not be a walk in the park. After taking out my poncho, swimsuit, a liter of water, and an apple, I got my pack to about 34 pounds. I brought my DSLR camera as my luxury item — that thing isn’t the lightest!

Once we packed everything back up, we hopped in our cars and drove to the trailhead — about an hour and a half away. We had another brief orientation — this time about how to wear our packs — and then we made our way to the trail that would lead us to the Grand Canyon. Yes, we had to hike 30 minutes before we even got to the actual North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Did I mention this was going to be a challenging trip?! ;)

Here's our whole group minus one guide. From left to right: Jessica, Laura, Tom, me, David, Jessica, Rob, Jamie (in pink), and Mick. (Photo credit: Todd)

Here’s our whole group minus one guide. From left to right: Jessica, Laura, Tom, me, David, Jessica, Rob, Jamie (in pink), and Mick. (Photo credit: Todd)

(Side note: It was quite chilly {maybe 60s} when we first started. I had goosebumps! Nevertheless, it was a really bad idea to start hiking in a jacket. I warmed up real quick once we started moving!)

I was huffing and puffing during that short 30 minute hike. It was quite sad. I was in for such a rude awakening.

The views from the rim were breathtaking, enough so that I knew right then and there that a camera would never be able to fully capture the beauty of the Grand Canyon. The colors would never look the same as I was seeing them right there with my very eyes and a photograph would never fully capture how I was feeling right there in the moment being surrounded by this beautiful scenery. I was already feeling small (which is what I wanted!); my journey was just beginning.


As we all approached the canyon trailhead, you could tell what we were all thinking: we’re going down that trail?! It was steep. It was rocky. And for a moment, I didn’t know how I was going to take that first step. I made David help me, which seems a little silly looking back. I had to tackle harder obstacles the rest of the trip. I wish I could completely recall the first part of the hike, but all I remember is slipping on rocks a lot — almost as if I was surfing on rocks.

Once I somehow completed that, we scrambled (or maybe that was just me!) down a rock and sat and took a snack break in this large inset rock that gave us a beautiful view of the canyon.

The rock we had to get scramble or climb down

The rock we had to get scramble or climb down

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Next up was hiking down the “50 switchbacks” — a task that was much easier to do than when we tackled it hiking back up the last day. The place we stopped to have lunch was pretty stinkin’ cool.


There were pictographs/petroglyphs (not sure if those are the appropriate terms for them) drawn by Indians on the other side of this rock!


Do you see the big horn sheep? (It looks like a deer.)


After a leisurely lunch, we hiked across the Esplanade — the flattest part of the Grand Canyon you can find — to arrive at our first water stop and to simply just stop and play on the rocks.


I love this picture to show scale. Look at little David compared to the gigantic rocks.

I love this picture to show scale. Look at little David compared to the gigantic rocks.

I did it! I actually climbed up a rock -- a small feat compared to what was ahead of me.

I did it! I actually climbed up a rock — a small feat compared to what was ahead of me.

I had what felt like a mini panic attack trying to climb back over a rock to get back to the side where I “started from.” Both David and Todd kept saying you have to move your knee but I couldn’t move. It was as if I froze. I couldn’t make myself move. A minute or two passed and I somehow got the courage to take David’s hand and he pulled me enough that I could scramble on all fours up the rock. I was going to have to face my fears of heights… and quick.

Once our play break was over, we hiked the rest of the way to where we’d be sleeping that first night.

It was only the first night of the three we’d be out sleeping in the backcountry, but OMG. At this point, I knew all the sweat and physical exhaustion was going to be worth it. Look. at. that. view! I can’t even describe it. Amazing doesn’t seem to cover it.

(Photo credit: Todd)

(Photo credit: Todd)

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David and I chose what Todd referred to as the “honeymoon suite” because we were so far away from the rest of the group. Ha ha! He joked that we were in the ‘burbs. Even though they poked fun at us, I loved the small part of the canyon we called ours for the night. You can’t see in the picture directly below, but there’s a huge dropoff right behind David. I don’t sleepwalk, but I definitely wanted to be away from that just in case!

David waving from our "terrace" -- ha ha!

David waving from our “terrace” — ha ha!


Here’s a picture that shows that big drop-off/crevasse right behind him.



Dinner was nice and wholesome that night. We had couscous with chicken and golden raisins, tomatoes, and pistachios (I think). Sadly, we had to eat it in our tent, though, because it was starting to rain. I was not expecting it to rain at all while we were there. I wonder if David and I jinxed everyone. We told our pouring rain story from our Shenandoah trip last year.

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I will say it was very cool to see the rain coming in since we had such a spectacular view of the canyon. The weather turned the sky a beautiful shade of pink and orange.


After being in our tents for a little while, we heard: “You can come out now!” We all re-emerged to get some cherry cheesecake the guides had made. And what do you know… it starts to rain again. We all take cover again. This time David and I climbed up into this little rock space so we could see the storm, but not get wet. It was very cool. If I wasn’t scared about spiders, I would have probably enjoyed it even more.

We crawled into bed shortly after we finished dessert. I was thinking I would be so exhausted I would fall right asleep. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. I blame the storm. The wind was so fierce you could hear it whipping around the rocks before it hit the tent. And boy did it hit the tent. The wind made all four of the tent walls shake — not exactly conducive to sleeping. Somehow we slept off and on and woke up ready to take on the next day.

That concludes Day 1; stay tuned for Day 2!