Want to read Day 1? Click here.
Before we knew it, one of the guides was calling out, “Good morning.” Turns out we had gotten some sleep after all. In a sleepy daze, I stumbled out of the tent toward where the group was gathering for breakfast. Looking out across the canyon is quite the way to wake up — rejuvenating enough that I mostly forgot how lousy I slept the night before. It was Day 2 and I was excited to see what the day would bring.
Breakfast consisted of breakfast burritos with mashed potatoes and sausage — a meal that would stick to our insides.
After breaking camp, we hit the trail to continue our steep descent into the canyon. By the end of the day, we would cover about 7 miles and drop 3,200 ft in elevation.
This descent was very similar to Day 1: rocky. There are just SO MANY rocks of all shapes and sizes in the Grand Canyon. I was methodical about each step I took so I wouldn’t fall. (I’ve been known to trip on flat ground every now and again.) I was still huffing and puffing a bit, but my body was starting to adjust and adapt to the exertion I was putting it through. As the day wore on, I had more confidence in my steps and my overall ability — a change I was happy to see.
Our first fun stop of the day was at “photo-op rock.” I mean, how could you not take a picture standing on top of this perfectly placed rock. ;) I, of course, was closer to the base because of, you know, the height thing.
Before we made it to our first big rest stop, Thunder River, we took some pictures at a spectacular look-out point. (If I had a dollar for every time I said spectacular in this series of posts…)
I also snuck in some cactus photos — the quintessential desert vegetation I was expecting to see.
After we tore ourselves away from the view, we made yet another descent (I’m sure you’re sensing a theme by now) and a mini ascent to Thunder River, one of the steepest and shortest rivers in the world.
The first thing I loved about this spot was the cool mist coming off of the rushing waterfall — a welcome relief to the 90-degree weather we were hiking in (a sharp contrast from the temperature we started at at the rim of the canyon). Although the mist was nice, the clear river water was unbelievably COLD, maybe 50ish degrees. I could only stand to put my toes in for a couple seconds at a time.
One of the optional activities at this particular spot was to climb up and sit where the waterfall started. And once you made it to the top, you could also check out a cave. I was interested in seeing the cave, but I didn’t have the confidence to tackle the difficult climb to get up there. As Tom, one of the guides said, “If you aren’t comfortable with climbing or confident enough, you could injure yourself or worse.” Or worse?! No thanks. I could just picture myself being a liability if I attempted it — freezing and not being able to move up or down. I opted to sit at the bottom and relax. Because he is up for much more than I am, David attempted. He didn’t get very far until his feet started sweating in his sandals. He also faced the realization he would have to come back down, which would be even harder. He, too, stayed at the bottom of the waterfall and hung out with me. The only two people who made it to the top were our two guides, which says a lot about the difficulty.
After pumping some more water into our bladders (a way to carry water in our packs, so we can drink as we hike) and water bottles, we hit the trail again. It was interesting to see the changes in scenery as we continued our descent. Some rocks were large, but then 20 minutes later they would be much smaller. And among all the rocks, we saw lots of green — plants and trees. I had no idea the Grand Canyon was so green!
One of the many things that made our guides absolutely wonderful was the fact that they gave us so many breaks. They understand the Grand Canyon is a challenge. We only had to think about taking a break and they would know the perfect space to stop before we had to say anything. Before we hit our lunch spot, we took a quick dip — fully clothed.
David and I were learning it was beneficial to jump in with all of our clothes on because it would keep us cooler for a bit longer. (Although I will admit it was hard to get used to the idea of walking around in soggy socks.) Right before this picture was taken, I slid off a rock (on purpose!) that was close to Rob’s feet (he’s the one behind me) and the current of the stream carried me a couple of feet — a mini water adventure.
We put on our packs and continued on.
After lunch, we hit another fun water stop. I don’t have the pictures to prove it was fun, but trust me, it was. Our water adventures were getting grander in size. This time I jumped into a waterfall that was gushing water on three sides (if that makes sense) and was about 5 to 8 feet tall. The water at the bottom was only about 3 feet. And like the current before, I was carried a couple of feet after I jumped in. Someone has video of me jumping in — I can’t wait to see it!
As you can guess, we continued hiking on toward our campsite for the night. Before we reached the campsite, we took off our packs to go to a look-out point. This was the scariest part of the trip for me. Hands down. When you go on these trips, peer pressure is built in automatically. If the group does it, you should, too. So, because everyone was going to this look-out point, I followed along, too.
I was OK until I saw the trail get narrower and narrower. It got to the point it was only about a foot wide at most — and then a huge drop-off to the Colorado River below. My hands started sweating and I could feel the anxiety rise in my chest. Every once in awhile, you could hear me say, “What?!” in a soft, but high-pitch tone. I kept thinking: you have got to be kidding me. Sometimes I couldn’t see the full trail until we rounded a bend. We walked on this crazy narrow trail until we simply couldn’t go any farther because the trail stopped. Rob even said he saw my leg shake as I was walking. Talk about facing your fear of heights head on! Holy moly.
We sat down to take in the sights. But really, I was just trying to get through it. I told David I couldn’t take any pictures. I scooted as far back as I could against the rock wall and found as stable a spot as I could sitting on the equivalence of gravel.
At one point, Jessica was holding my left hand and David was holding my right. I needed support so bad and I am so so thankful everyone was accommodating to me. I got several: “Girl, you are doing great.” Even though we had only known the group for a day and a half I knew they would have my back and help me if I needed it. Words cannot describe how appreciative I was of that.
It’s at this point, I coined the quote that will forever be remembered when we all think about this trip. After taking the above group shot, Todd says, “Now, do something crazy.” And my response? “I’m already doing something crazy!” The truer-than-true words just spilled out of my mouth and everyone cracked up. And that, “What?!” I mentioned about earlier… yeah, that got used a lot more during the trip and soon became as quotable as “I’m already doing something crazy!”
Soon after the above silly shot, we headed to where we camped the second night.
We had officially made it to the bottom of the canyon! We camped within a stone’s throw of the Colorado River — talk about some beautiful white noise that night!
Night 2’s dinner was my favorite of the whole trip. We had pesto tortellini with sun-dried tomatoes and goat cheese and some pine nuts tossed in (I think).
Once we finished dinner, we chatted a bit, but then quickly hit the hay. It was hot that night. Do not bring a mummy sleeping bag. Why in the world was I worried about being too cold in the canyon?! Even just having it on top of me was too hot. If I had to do it over, I would only bring a blanket, no sleeping bag at all. Unfortunately, I slept about the same as I did the first night. Not great, but drifted in and out. But again, I couldn’t complain too much the sound of the Colorado was wonderful and to catch glimpses of the rocks at night was beautiful.
And that wraps up Day 2. There’s even more adventure to cover in Day 3 — keep an eye out for it!