Journey Down the Grand Canyon: Day 4
I woke up from a surprisingly pretty good night of sleep next to Sebas. We were all up and ready to go by 5:30 a.m. (I told you it was going to be early!) We had eight long miles up Hermit Trail. It is still pitch dark and the sky looks as beautiful as it did every night. It was the first time that we were all going to be hiking in the middle of the night.
What an amazing experience it was! There was something about the view of the light of our headlamps, the silhouette of the mountains and the sky full of stars. Nobody said a word and it was a good and peaceful time to enjoy the hike.
Without realizing it we had already gone up about 2 miles when we reached a stretch called Cathedral Stairs. Here the rocks got bigger and steeper and despite it being more challenging, it did not feel that way. As we went up, the darkness of the night started to disappear and sunrise was about to start. I stopped and got my camera and tripod out, the group kept going without me since I was going to take my time. It is not every day that you get to see the sun come up while being down in the Grand Canyon. Watching the sun shower its light over the canyon was truly a wonderful and peaceful experience.
I have learned that to be able to completely enjoy a sunrise or sunset to the fullest, you have to be there way earlier than it starts and watch it until the very end. This allows you to see all the different stages of it. The colors, the light, the sensations all change with each stage. There is something about a sunrise that is so much better than watching the sunset (No offense to sunsets).
I picked up my gear and started to walk up. Russ was waiting for me just a couple of minutes from where I was. We started walking and I had a much better view of the canyon and the sky was just so awesome I had to stop again and take pictures. After a little bit I continued because I did not want to hold the group up any longer.
After that, my legs started to get really tired but we just had to keep walking. I kept thinking of Dory in Finding Nemo when she says “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming” to keep myself going. We stopped along the way for a quick lunch and not gonna lie, I was becoming impatient. This hike was much tougher than I ever expected especially after Russ said that Day 2 was definitely the hardest! (Not cool Russ!) Despite it all, I was trying to enjoy it as much as I could.
We finally reached the last two miles or so of our hike. To my surprise the rocks here got more and more steep. I had been keeping up with Sebas and Santi all day but it was here that they left me behind. Way behind! I managed to exhaust my right leg by using it way more than my left leg while going up (I would regret this very much.) I had to stop more than I expected but I had no other option, I had to suck it up and “Just keep walking, just keep walking.”
I knew I was getting closer to the top when I started to see different hikers going down. Hermit Trail can be crowded but only when you are close to the top so that gave me motivation to keep going. I tried to take the looks of pity I was getting from other people with humor. People were awesome and even cheered for me to keep going!
I FINALLY made it to the top! My feeling of exhaustion was similar to the one I get after I ran a 400 meter race in track and field. All I wanted to do was lay down and whine about my pain. On the positive side, Sebas, Santi and Josh were waiting for me with some ice-cold Gatorade and Raspberry muffins. About 10 minutes later, my dad and Russ arrived and we get everything in the car before starting to head back. On the way, we stopped one more time to appreciate the canyon and taste the sweetness of being able to say we had been down there for four days (And snapping a group selfie of course!)
What an amazing experience this was. I am thankful that my family vacations always seem like an incredible adventure. It only makes my passion to travel grow more and more.
I recommend this to anybody that is reading this. It takes some physical preparation but it is worth every freezing step. If you do decide to do it make sure to check out Wildland Trekking Company, Russ and Josh were just incredible guides, the equipment was excellent and the overall experience was just priceless. (I know I know, MasterCard right?)
If you are curious to know more about my trip feel free to ask me any questions! Until the next time!