For months, my brother Matt had been planning, preparing and convincing others to join him for a Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim in the Grand Canyon. The R3, as the experts call it, entails starting at one rim of the canyon, running down to the river, up the other rim and then turning around and running back. It ends up being about 48 miles with over 10,000 feet of climbing. He talked my dad and our two friends, Will and Geoff, to join him. They picked a weekend in April, late enough that the water spigots along the trail were turned on but before it got too hot, and we planned our trip around meeting them at the park and hanging out with my mom while the guys went on their adventure.
The grandest of all canyons
Apparently, the way we hang out in my family is by going on 18 mile hikes. Not wanting to seem too lazy compared to the others, we decided to hike down to the river and back (a Rim-to-River-to-Rim if you want). Although there were many signs warning against doing the hike in a day, we felt fairly confident we could make it, especially considering it was well under half of what the rest of the group was doing.
One of many signs warning us against going to the river in a day
We woke at 4 the morning of the hike and headed to the South Kaibab trailhead. The guys needed an early start to beat the heat and the mules and, with nothing better to do, we took to the trail then as well. The first hour was dark; we stumbled along with our headlamps before we were blessed with an amazing sunrise. Zach and I had arrived after dark the night before so this was our first sighting of the canyon (excluding the previous times we had been to the park.)
The first glimpse of sun
The way down was so pleasant that we even decided to run some of it. The canyon itself is the major draw for the park but seeing the Colorado River was amazing. It was absolutely beautiful and I felt very accomplished for getting myself there (and soon to be back up) on my own two legs. Millions upon millions of people have seen the Grand Canyon but not many have crossed the Colorado River within.
Crossing the Colorado!
After getting some coffee from Phantom Ranch and filling up on water, we headed back up via Bright Angel Trail. As expected, the way up was much more exhausting than the way down. It was also much more crowded, as it was now a reasonable time for hiking. We took lots of breaks, ate plenty of snacks and tried to keep a lively conversation going. It got pretty rough near the end but we all made it up in a decent state of mind.
Looking back at how far we’ve come
We had just enough time to take the shuttle to our car, shower and eat some food before we headed back to the trailhead to wait for the guys to finish. At just about the time I was starting to worry, they made it back. All were in great spirits considering what they had just accomplished. We celebrated the successful day with eating pizza, watching basketball, and going to sleep early.
Happy to be done!
The next day, as my family headed back to Phoenix to fly out, we headed to Coconino National Forest. On the way, we stopped to pick up the essentials for our camper – some plates, bowls, cups, a broom, a trashcan and some beer. We spent the week at a campsite smack dab between Sedona and Flagstaff. Although it had no electricity or water, it was a beautiful, secluded site that allowed us to become acquainted with our new home.
The road between Sedona and Flagstaff
Zach succeeded in backing it into the spot in less than ten attempts and we managed to set it up without it rolling away or breaking anything. We took the next few nights to move our things from the car to the camper and figure out how everything worked.
Our first campsite with our camper!
While we weren’t working, organizing or sleeping, we were able to fit in a hike and try some of the world’s best chile relleno (as recommended by Zach’s mom). Before we knew it, we were heading to the Las Vegas airport. Staying in Sedona had been a spontaneous decision (we were originally supposed to spend the week in Las Vegas) and we look forward to returning to enjoy more time among the beautiful red rocks of Sedona.