Hey Team,

I’m back! Long story short: The Grand Canyon hike was incredible. Period.

Long story long (You guys didn’t actually think you’d get away with a short story did you?):

First of all, the permits for the Grand Canyon campgrounds only allow for up to eleven people in a group so I’m sorry to anyone that really wanted to go. Originally I was hoping to make it a much bigger meet-up but it just wasn’t possible. I guess we’ll have to make the end of Amtrekker extravaganza that much bigger!!!

The permit was filled quickly with friends and family that I hadn’t seen much of in the last year. Besides myself, Mom and Popamtrekker both made it out to the most famous of holes in the ground. Nate, Saadia, Erica, Cody and Rebecca (All of whom you saw in the sandboarding video!) were there. Spence (the dude that gave me the green Captain America shirt and another of my best friends) and Jaime (a good friend that just recently made it back to the US after a four year stint with the army in Germany) and Katy Moe (a friend from high school that I literally hadn’t seen in eight years but was one of the highlights of the trip) rounded out the Team Amtrekker crew for the weekend.

Sunset

We made it to our campground at the top of the canyon on the 4th of July (or “Amtrekker Day” as it has been officially renamed in my world) and after setting up camp with only minimal drama considering the number of people we had in a tight space we made a beeline for the rim to catch sight of one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever been lucky enough to enjoy!

But with dusk also came the realization that we were going to have to get up at 3:30 in the morning if we were going to have time to break camp, drive to the trailhead and still make it to the bottom ahead of the worst of the projected 120 degree heat. For some reason (probably related to my lack of ability to plan) it had never occurred to me that I’d have to be conscious that early in the morning. I was not happy.

The Team

At least not then. When it was still only 10am and we were at the bottom of the Grand Canyon and it was already in the nineties I found myself sitting in a creek silently thanking everyone for making me get up when we did.

The hike down was long and exhausting but the views were impossible to beat, especially for a team of Californians who had never seen landscapes like you’ll find in the grandest of canyons. The second half of the hike in particular was incredibly cool. It seemed like every time we turned a corner the landscape would change completely. From an oasis to a red rock canyon to a riverside beach; always something new and always beautiful.

Views

Everyone held up pretty well. Don’t get me wrong…everyone was crazy sore after five hours and nine and a half miles with packs but we all finished within 20 minutes of each other so no one REALLY struggled.

Even though predicted thunderstorms provided some awesome cloud cover to keep the heat down. We still spent the better part of that day sitting in the creek staying cool. At least until Nate started pushing huge rocks around trying to build a dam and I realized, “What kind of guy would I be if I didn’t help my best friend try to fight nature.” Much to the chagrin of the ladies the next couple hours were dedicated to building huge systems of dams out of river rocks. Not to brag but we managed to make a pretty impressive pool. (Okay…I said it to brag. I dare you to build a better dam.)

Of course, eventually the sun set on the fun and I had to be reminded again that a pre-dawn wakeup was in the cards. Yuck.

Bridge over the Colorado River

Day two was probably the easiest. We decided to break up the hike to the top into two days and only walk midway up, to the Indian Gardens campground, and spend the night there. Again, even after breaking camp, hiking for hours and setting up at the new site it was still earlier than I’m EVER happy being awake. Luckily, I couldn’t even imagine better company to while away the time with in such a profoundly majestic location.

PLUS, the park ranger had to warn us to settle down and be quiet at 6pm…so things must have been going well. (I blame “spoons.” How can anyone ever be expected to play that game quietly?)

Cody and Rebecca

Day three in the canyon brought us all the way back up to the top and thanks to varying levels of sore muscles and eagerness to “sleep in” the group got pretty spread out. As usual Cody and Rebecca were champs that got off to a crazy early start and refused to take more than a few minutes to rest before powering through. But us normal folk started the hike about an hour later and met up with them later (Cody was actually insane enough to come back down a mile after making it to the top just to walk with us).

It was during this leg of the hike that plans for the “Ultimate Canyon” were cemented. Don’t get me wrong; the Grand Canyon is an incredible place. But we think we can do better. (Details to be unveiled at a later date.)

It was such a satisfying feeling to make it back to the top (made more satisfying by running the last little bit to pass Nate and Katy like they were standing still and beating them both to the rim).

The Sign

My favorite sign in the canyon said, “Getting to the bottom OPTIONAL Getting to the top MANDATORY.” There were more than a few points where the hike would just get daunting even for someone that walks as much as I do. So, I can absolutely see that they must have problems with people deciding they are unable to make it all the way out. But that being said, Popamtrekker made a great point when he said something along the lines of, “Either go all the way to the river or don’t go at all.” There are some great views from the rim and the Colorado is amazing but if you just going for a stroll down to one of the rest areas you’re just going to have to walk back up.

Bottom line: Epic. Go.

Another one off the list! There are LOTS more pictures here AND here.

I’m done.

Brett.

If you love to live vicariously then maybe you’d like to just help me live…


*hint hint wink wink nudge nudge* Say no more.