“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” Helen Keller
When I set out to visit the Grand Canyon for the third time, I wanted to go on a daring adventure, to visit a part of the Canyon that I had never been to, the path less traveled. Knowing I would be accompanied by my father and my brother, both experienced hikers and lifelong outdoorsmen, I was brave enough to make a plan for backpacking a back country trail in January!
I researched trail conditions, weather, water sources and chose Hermit’s Trail for several reasons. It begins at a slightly lower elevation on the western edge of the South Rim, making it less likely to have snow. Initial portions of the trail are westerly facing, making it more available to sunshine (to melt the snow we might encounter). Hermit’s Trail is a back country trail and in January, we were likely to encounter very few people, which appealed to the hermit in me!
Hermit’s Trail would also give us access to see two of the Canyon’s most famous white water rapids, Hermit Rapids and Granite Rapids. At times, these rapids are so powerful, you can hear their roar from the rim of the Canyon. We would also be able to see remnants of one of the first luxury camps below the rim, built by Santa Fe Railway in 1911, closed in 1930.
Hermit’s Trail would take us along the Tonto Platform, which is a plateau at an elevation between the Canyon floor and the Rim. This would give us great views of the Colorado River and the colorful canyon walls surrounding us.
I did have some worries going into this adventure. I felt I wasn’t in great condition and I had gained some weight since my last adventure in the Canyon. I was also worried about the weather, knowing that temperatures in the Canyon can vary greatly from the South Rim to the bottom of the Canyon. Typically, during January, temperatures on the South Rim will be as low as 20 degrees, with a high of 40 degrees and inner canyon lows around 33 degrees with a possible high of 60 degrees. I also knew it was likely we would encounter snow and bitter cold on the South Rim at this time of year. I wanted to be sure I had enough clothes, and food and water and warmth but I had to be cautious in loading my pack! Weight adds up fast and I did NOT want to carry a 60lb pack out of the canyon!
I pushed past these worries and tried to plan for all conditions and situations. I chose to embrace the definition of adventure as an exciting or unusual experience, a challenging undertaking, with an uncertain outcome. Uncertainty can be hard for me sometimes, not knowing what will happen or how it will turn out.
In Part Two, I will tell you about the lessons in adventure that I learned in the Canyon, and how my adventure really turned out!