My Current Thoughts & Ponderings: Grand Canyon Edition

Philip and I haven’t even been back from our vacation to the Grand Canyon a week yet and I’m already wishing we could go back. Heck, I wanted to go back as soon as we stepped on the plane to come home. Guys, it was seriously that amazing and that much fun!

I didn’t even realize hiking down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon was on my bucket list until Philip mentioned 6-ish months ago that he kind of wanted to go to the Grand Canyon. After looking into it more, I realized if we were going to do the Grand Canyon, we were going to do the Grand Canyon. If there’s an adventure and challenge to be had, you better believe I’m signing up for it.

So, that’s what led us to signing up for a packaged trip through Arizona Outback Adventures and it was the best decision we could have made. If you decide to go on any trip in the Arizona area, I highly recommend using their services. I’m not getting paid to tell you this, we just truly had an awesome experience with them. Our two guides were fun and gave us just the right mix of freedom and guidance we needed. All the planning was pretty much taken care of and even though we were hiking, I swear they had everything and anything we could possibly need – from tape for preventing blisters to nail clippers to ear plugs. This definitely wasn’t their first rodeo!

I could go on and on about our trip, but I thought I’d do another episode of “My Current Thoughts and Ponderings,” all things related to our trip.

During our trip, I was…

In awe of: The Grand Canyon. Enough said, right? Like everyone says, the pictures just don’t do it justice (although I still tried. :)). It’s vastness was incredible. To put it into perspective, it’s a full one mile deep and 18 miles wide. Seeing the canyon from the rim was impressive, but I really feel like I was most in awe of it when we started hiking down farther and farther into the canyon. It completely changed my perspective of it. Not to mention, it was awe-inspiring just seeing the many layers of rock displaying millions of years of history.

Thankful for: Walking poles. Did I mention it was a mile down to the basin? You’d think going downhill would be the easy part. Uh, not so much. I was definitely feeling it in my calves the next day (and the next day…). We hiked down the South Kaibab trail, which is 7 miles (dropping about 5,000 feet in elevation) and having those poles saved our joints and knees from more pain. Going up, we hiked the Bright Angel Trail for 10 miles and by that point, the poles were almost a necessity. They were pretty much an extension to my hands the entire trip. Haha.

Avoided: Mule poop. Or at least as much as possible. By mule, foot, or raft are the only three ways to get to the basin of the canyon. Sooo, that means mules are going up and down the trails daily to bring down food, people, and supplies and to bring up trash, people, and mail. :)

Relieved: To see the Colorado River. Once we finally could see the raging Colorado River, we knew were getting close. Hallelujah! Haha. To get over the river to our lodging, we had to cross the long Black Bridge, which was created in the 1920s. Everything to build it was brought down by, you guessed it…foot or mule. And I thought my backpack was getting heavy…

Falling asleep staying awake to: Snoring. And no it wasn’t Philip. The only negative part of our trip were the sleepless nights. This vacation was…rustic. Philip and I stayed in separate, same-gender cabins with 5 bunks to a small cabin. They were actually really nice and it totally brought back memories of going to camp when I was little. The downfall? I was sleeping with 9 other ladies…all of whom were quiet sleepers except for one. Blurgh. I’ve never been more excited to get out of bed to start my day. :)

Loving: Being unplugged. This may have been one of my favorite parts. With no cell phone reception in the basin, I was completely disconnected from the rest of the world for three days. And you know what? I survived. And actually, I loved it. When we got back up to the rim of the canyon, I waited until we were well on the road back to Phoenix before even looking at my phone. Not having my phone as a distraction gave me that much more time to be in the moment, be in awe of the canyon surrounding me, and to enjoy the people I was with. It was a good life lesson I hope to continue with on occasion. :)

Gazing at: The stars. What is it about stars that pulls you in like a trance? Out of all the things we did on our trip, this may be what I will cherish the most. Because there was little else to do in the evenings, Philip and I spent one evening after dinner talking on some benches in a small, completely empty outdoor amphitheater used for ranger talks. We talked about everything and anything until it was dark enough to lie down and gaze at the many stars above us. Seriously, talk about putting things into perspective: Gazing at the millions of stars above you while being in the basin of one of the largest canyons in the world. It boggles my mind just thinking about it.

Surprised by: Stellar food. Food is my jam (as you may have guessed). I set my expectations for food low on this trip. Which may have been the reason why I was so surprised by it! Our guides whipped out this amazing picnic lunch on our hike down. Who packs smoked salmon, fresh veggies, fruit, and a legit charcuterie board for a picnic lunch in the Grand Canyon? I’m telling you, our guides were amazing. We had dinner at the Phantom Ranch (where we stayed) for the two nights we were there and for being carried down by mule, it was a delicious feast! Beef stew one night and grilled steak the next night with all the fixings. All served family style, it was like a comfortable family gathering that we had while we were there, passing bowls around and yelling down the table for someone to pass the butter. Loved it.

Enjoying: The companionship with the group. Okay, maybe this is what I was most surprised about. The people. You never know what you’re going to get when you go on a group trip full of strangers, but Philip and I agree that it made the trip more fun being part of a group than if we would have done it on our own. And that’s saying a lot coming from two introverts! There were 9 others with us, including the guides. All of us varied in ages, coming from all over (including the UK), but we connected on one thing or another and bonded over the course of the trip. It was honestly sad to say goodbye.

Craving: A long shower and clean clothes. This is going to sound obvious and I should’ve guessed, but man is the desert dusty! Our clothes and legs were completely covered in red dust. While we had showers during our stay in the basin (we really weren’t roughing it all that much), it was nice to come back home to a long shower and a clean pair of clothes to change into. Oh, and a bed with a quiet night’s sleep. :)

That’s our trip! I’d definitely go back in a heartbeat. We’re already in search for our next adventure destination…

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