Caught the 6am “Hiker’s Express” to the South Kaibab Trailhead. About half the riders were American and the other half European (primarily French and German from the rudimentary knowledge I have of continental languages). There is also a 4am and 5am express, but I suspected for the “warm up” hike I was doing it wasn’t necessary to get up that early…yet. The recommendation is that you are either at your day’s destination or out of the canyon by 10am. We were dropped off about 6:30 and I got out of there at something like 8:40. There’s the alternative of hiking on the other end of the day—evening—which I may end up doing if and when I do an overnight trip. I saw at least seven more little lizards on the hike, along with various birds, chipmunks and squirrels.
Going down is deceptively easy; it was hard to stop at the recommended day trip turn-around at Cedar Ridge. I ended up going just below that to a saddle between monoliths. A guy from Rhode Island and I hop scotched for awhile on the trek back up. People on the way down looked breezy (as I suppose I did), almost in disbelief at all of us headed the opposite direction with out tongues hanging out. Their perspective will change!
It’s only 10 miles as the crow flies across the canyon, and about six to the river, but by the time you splash in the Colorado and turn around to go back the heat has settled and going up is NOT the easy part. There are signs, almost humorous in nature, at every trailhead, “What goes down must come back up.”
On the shuttle back I spotted a senior citizen at one of the stops wearing socks pulled up halfway his shins and a shirt that read “Tough Men Wear Pink.” Tough men also built the trail I had just walked upon, tough men were doing some nasty job at the pit toilets at Cedar Ridge, tough men were using shovels and a jack hammer at an archaeology dig along the trail. My lingering question is this, what do tough women wear?
Jenny Gapp, has eighteen years experience as a teacher librarian, four seasons as a seasonal state park ranger assistant, and two summers adventuring with National Parks in an official capacity.