If I had a single ounce of sense in my head, I would have pushed to leave the Grand Canyon the day after our Rim-to-rim-to-rim. Why? Because I know myself.
I know that when presented with big and beautiful landscapes, all I want to do is to play in them, regardless of my level of sore/tired. One could say that I have very little self control. And one would be right. You know the age-old experiment of giving a kid a marshmallow and telling them that if they don’t eat it for 10 minutes, they’d get two?
I’m the kid who eats the marshmallow. (On a side note, there’s a super-good Invisibilia podcast called the Personality Myth that talks more about that experiment and how the results are completely misinterpreted by our current culture.)
But we didn’t leave. Mostly because I didn’t want to leave. Instead, we moved the Scamp out of our campsite at Mather, and headed to the nearest lodge to Internet some (Quote of the day from some random dude who walked up to us: Is your Internet working? Mine isn’t, and it’s ruining my freaking day. (Seriously, I can’t make this shit up.))
Scott lured me into pedaling out to Hermits Rest, which was at the end of a long road that was only open to shuttle buses. When he mentioned that there was a snack bar at the end of the road, I was all in. He bought me donuts and coffee. I’m easily bribed. Plus, we could put our bikes on the bus for the ride back.
Once back, we took the Scamp to our free camping spot outside of the park and went back into the park so that Scott could hike down Grandview trail for a little bit.
‘I’ll just come and watch the sun set and read my book in the car,’ I declared as I put my running shoes in the van.
FOMO. Freakin’ FOMO. In all actuality, my legs didn’t feel too bad, and we went less than a mile down the trail, so I could make a case for it not being an entirely stupid idea…and it was sooooo beautiful, I don’t regret it one bit.
The following morning, we went back into the Village area to try to find functional Internet again, this time at the research library. Turns out, free wi-fi is very simply shitty at the Grand Canyon. Period. But it definitely didn’t ruin my day. Instead of fretting, we went for a little pedal on the Coconino Rim section of the AZT to see if we could spot any fall colors.
And we may have also hiked down the New Hance trail for a little bit at sun set.
My legs were feeling “recovered” by now in the sense that they weren’t sore. I knew that I didn’t have deep energy reserves, but I knew that I could put in a solid slog if I really wanted to. And I really wanted to get lemonades down at Phantom Ranch. I love the novelty of rides and runs that involve food in cool places. Like riding the AZT to Colossal Cave to get ice cream.
Scott, the more rational and logical half of our duo talked me down to just going to the Tonto Trail. It’ll be new trail, he reasoned. He’s also smart enough to know that I’m highly inclined to do stupid when I know that my time in a place is running out.
We went down late afternoon after a morning of fighting Grand Canyon Internet trying to get some work done. Once again, did not ruin my day.
I’m usually pretty against riding/running the same trails over and over, but I make an exception for the Big Ditch corridor trails. Their wide enough and non-techy enough (most of the time) that I can actually look around while still moving. This is still a rarity when running for me, I tend to end up flat on my face when I start to admire my surroundings.
I knew that this was my time to say goodbye to the Canyon. We were planning on leaving the next morning, and most likely, won’t be back until next spring. Six months is a long time to be away from a lover as passionate as the Canyon.
We cruised happily along the Tonto, seeing no one until we hooked back up with the Bright Angel Trail. There, at Indian Gardens, we ran into a kid (18? 20?) who asked us how much farther the trail went.
‘Well, you can go all the way down to the river,’ I told him.
‘Would that be considered extreme?’ he asked.
‘Umm…yes? It’s a ways down.’
He continued down. We continued up. I guess we could have told him that you could go all the way to the other rim. Or that you could go all the way to Utah on trail if you really wanted.
We emerged from the Canyon with 20 minutes of daylight to spare. I sort of wonder what happened to the kid.
We showered at the campground ($2 for eight minutes, best deal in town, especially when it’s not warm enough to heat up a solar shower) and headed over to a lodge for some grub. Lemon meringue pie. It wasn’t a lemonade a the bottom of the Canyon, but it was a darn close second.
The following morning we packed up and headed out. I waved bye to the Canyon at the final overlooks. The days are getting short, the nights are getting cold. It was time to make miles south.