Since December 19, 2016, when Anne brought up the idea of hiking at the Grand Canyon, there was a month or two of research, three monthly attempts to make a reservation at Phantom Ranch, and over 60 training hikes of various lengths and durations culminating in the final (and I must say awesome) success of the Grand Canyon hike itself.
The importance of training for this type of hike cannot be overstated. If one wants to hike the South Kaibab (7.5 miles) or Bright Angel (10 miles) trails, one must understand the seriousness and brutality of the “up-ness” and “down-ness” of this hike. If you plan to stay at Phantom Ranch your load will be lighter than if you plan to camp out. In either case practicing with your full load is important.
I suppose the amount of training is relative to age (i.e., the younger you are the less training you need). Okay, I’m sure that’s true, but one should nevertheless take my advice into consideration.
We drove the 2600-mile round trip between Missouri and the South Rim, taking three days going and two days to come home. Driving through Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona is worth the time if you have it. The wind turbine and solar panel farms are incredible.
The volcanic lava fields seemingly springing forth from a desert mesa in New Mexico are mind-blowing. The rock formations across the Southwest United States are not only beautiful but humbling.
But there are cities, small and large, that are interesting too. We stopped for the night in both Amarillo, TX, and Albuquerque, NM. And it didn’t hurt that we had great weather. But oh that wind!!!
On our way to the canyon, we spent an afternoon in Old Town Albuquerque (established in 1706). The area is charming and the shopping opportunities abound. Each locally-owned store has its own story and character. Here’s a link to a bit of history: http://albuquerqueoldtown.com/index.php?page=history .
Our return trip started early the day after our hike out. We grabbed a quick breakfast along the interstate and headed to Amarillo—about half-way home. Anne and Shayna had the perfect place in mind for our celebration dinner. We’d driven past the “no-way-you-can-miss-seeing-this-place” location on our way to the canyon. Perhaps a little over-the-top, but it held a special place in their family history.
We drove from our hotel on the east side of Amarillo a little farther east to The Big Texan Steak Ranch. Nothing about this establishment is small—not the sign outside, the huge dining room, the desserts, nor the 72-ounce steak which is free if you can eat it ALL (including baked potato and salad). (Check it out: https://www.bigtexan.com/72oz-hall-fame )
Certainly one cannot overlook the charm of the roving singers, two men who can perform, without hesitation and in harmony, ANY song that is requested.
Our steaks and baked potatoes were cooked to perfection and delicious. By the way the young man did not meet the 72-ounce steak challenge that night.
Having started our adventure with Margaritas, we toasted our successful trip with the Big Texan’s super-large Margaritas with super-large jalapeño garnish.
And on to the next challenge.