After checking out the rocks in Monument Valley, we went on the long drive to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. After our disastrous couple of days camping in Big Bend National Park a week prior, we had purchased ourselves a new tent and were ready for another night under the stars.
The drive in was rather distracting. There were so many good viewpoints as we got closer to the Canyon that we kept stopping to get some shots. We eventually made it to the Grand Canyon National Park, where we were told that the $25 entry fee had been waived for the day in honour of Veteran’s Day (Remembrance Day in the UK).
Once we were in, we headed straight to the Mather Campground. I was concerned that as it was already 4pm, there may not be any spaces left in the campsite. I needn’t have worried, there were hundreds of sites and it appeared most of them were empty. Without wasting anytime, we got started on pitching our new tent. As I rolled it out the bag, I noticed that it was much bigger than the last one. This was a good thing. Barry was always moaning that his 5’11” body couldn’t stretch out properly in the last one. It took us no time at all to erect it and we were pretty pleased with it. We did feel a pang of guilt against our old camo tent. He’d served us well and it was almost like we were cheating on him by being so excited about this new tent.
Once we were all set, we purchased some firewood and got dinner cooking. The cold was really starting to set in and we were very grateful that Barry had mastered the fire making technique. After polishing off a bottle of wine whilst looking up in awe at the sky and the amazing stars, we headed into the tent. We layered ourselves up with t-shirts, hoodies, jogging bottoms and socks. And boy did we need it. It was cold!
The next morning we were awake early. Our heads and gotten so cold in the night that we had pulled the sleeping bag up and over and tucked our heads in. It was a good job as the tent was a light grey colour and as a result it let all the sunlight in. When I pulled my head out, I was blinded by the light. It wasn’t the best nights sleep and made us reconsider our sleep plans for the next few days. We had planned to do two nights in the Canyon and then two nights in Zion National Park, but the thought of being that cold and uncomfortable for another three nights was too much. So after eating our cereal whilst hovering in the one patch of sunlight that was breaking through the trees for warmth, we got ourselves ready and headed to the visitor centre where we could get some Wi-Fi to book a motel in Zion instead.
With our accommodation arranged, we took ourselves off for a hike. I left Barry in charge of choosing this one and he’d decided on Hermit’s Rest Route. It was a route that would see us walk 9 miles around part of the Canyon rim. We packed our bags with some meat filled rolls, snacks and water, wrapped up warm and set off on the route – the red line on the map below.
As we walked, the sun started to come out and so the layers came off. Little did we know that we’d both put on the same t-shirt. Now we looked like two losers who wear matching clothes! Not embarrassing at all!!
We saw some great views of the Canyon along the way and although we’d flown over it in a helicopter when we got married, we actually got to take a lot more of it in this time. Last time we were just too caught up in landing and saying our vows to really appreciate it. It was awesome and you could definitely see why it was called the ‘Grand’ Canyon.
Some of the route was paved but some was just gravel paths with shear drop offs. I’m glad I’ve overcome the worst of my fear of heights, otherwise I’m not sure I would’ve enjoyed the walk so much.
After walking for four hours, with just a few short breaks for food, we finally made it to Hermits Rest. We were exhausted. Our bones ached and our feet were throbbing, but it felt so good to have completed it. Luckily, there was a shuttle waiting when we arrived to take us back to the village where we had parked the car.
We got back just in time to watch the sunset. It made the rocks glow bright red and orange and looked amazing.
That night, with the knowledge of how cold it would be, we dug out our thermal tops my parents had got us for Alaska. We hadn’t used them there, as it was still so warm when we arrived, but here they were much needed. It was a much warmer nights sleep, but still not very comfortable.
When it came to breakfast the next morning, I’d managed to convince Barry that we should stretch the budget to buy some bacon so we could have a hot meal. I can’t remember the last time I had a bacon sarnie. They were sooo good.
It reminded me of home…