Monday, September 05, 2005

Grand Canyon memories of 1995

It's been over 10 years since I and a few friends took a road trip and visited the Grand Canyon. Despite the questionable likelihood of trip actually taking place given the nature of where the original commitment was made, we followed through and after finals were written were on the road with two other friends.

It was nearing the end of my third year of university and on a SUB night over a couple drinks a friend and I decided to go the Grand Canyon. Before our finals we did some pre-Internet research which included attending a slide show presented by a guy who had recently hiked the Grand Canyon. After the presentation we asked him questions about our highly anticipated upcoming trip.

On a super shoestring budget, we drove my friend's VW van to the canyon. Along the way we stayed the night in places like Las Vegas, Death Valley, etc. Approaching Las Vegas was quite surreal. Driving and there's nothing, but desert, desert, and more desert, and then all of a sudden a city appears.

The first day at the Grand Canyon we were told we couldn't get a permit to camp in the canyon, but to come the next morning really early and try our luck. That day we did a small day hike and drove around the rim of the grand canyon. Something I just remembered (something I love about the writing process) when we first got to the canyon it was hailing.

The next day we got to the permit office bright and early and succeeded in getting camping permits and down the South Kaibab (SK) trail we went. The SK trail is 5 miles of really steep, manmade switchbacks. Going down was ok, but coming back up would have been killer. Luckily we had already decided we would return via a different trail, the Bright Angel trail.

We stayed at the Bright Angel Campground at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Nice enough campground and to our surprise complete with a phone booth. I couldn't resist and called my friend collect from the bottom of the Grand Canyon just because I could (I tried to calling the same friend when I was on the Great Wall, but unfortunately wasn't successful).

After a couple of days hiking around (that included a run in with an overly aggressive park ranger), we headed out on the Bright Angel trail. I remember nearing the top it seemed really steep and took a lot of effort to make it to the top. Meanwhile burritos carrying large tourists kept passing us as we were sweating it out. I swear, hiking out there were times when I thought they would need to burrito me and my stuff out I was so beat.

Exercises I've been doing lately have reminded me of my trip to the Grand Canyon. How? I was told to think of the Grand Canyon as an upside down mountain, hard going down and hard coming back up. Just like my current exercises because I start with lots of reps, continue until few reps, and then return to doing lots of reps. Strange association, but for some reason my brain made it.


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