10 Hour Day Hike At Grand Canyon

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It was Sunday, 5:45am. I pulled myself out of bed - something I haven’t done for a long time. It was time to see the sunrise, at Grand Canyon.

Sadly, when I arrived at the Mather Point overlook, the sky was already turning white. I was late by 10 minutes. I thought I was one of the only freaks getting up that early, but the parking lot was almost full. There were so many people standing there. What a scene! I walked around the canyon rim here and there, trying to capture what I have missed, but found nothing more than the freezing morning wind.

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After a brief breakfast and a short bus ride, I walked down the South Kaibab trailhead, and started what it turned out to be a 10 hour hike - the longest, the most stressful yet the most spectacular one I have ever done in my life.

The walk all the way down the canyon was divided by 4 distinct sections. I did not know how many stops I made along the way, and how many pictures I took - for each step I walked down, I felt I somewhat merged myself with a grand scene. It was so thrilling when I finally touched the bottom of the canyon at noon, where the Colorado River marched slowly, and over the time, must have patiently nurtured the giant bare rocks into green. Campers swam freely in the river and put up colorful tents around in the sunny beautiful Phantom Ranch. There was a moment I really wish I could stop the time, and settle in that wonderland. I knew I would be happy there, maybe I could spend a week, a few months, or a year?

Unfortunately, the reality did not allow me to dwell in that thought. I looked up at the 1600m height that I just hiked down, it was time to climb up, better before sunset, before the canyon turned into complete dark. Along the Bridal Angel path, I clearly remembered how many stops I made, and how much more exhausted I felt each time I sat down to catch a breath. The weather also played a little trick - not even half way through, it started to rain. But I had to applaud the upside - the flying sand disappeared, and the canyon visibility increased... I almost even forgot the smell of the mule dump on the melted snow path.

When I finally surfaced to the canyon rim, it was already over 6pm. Looking back at the distant valley vaguely visible at the bottom of the canyon, I literally could not believe how far I had walked. There was a warning sign discouraging one day hike all the way down and up the canyon and the high chance to suffer exhaustion. I wondered if I saw this at the beginning, whether I would still go that far. Hmmm... I guess I would still say yes.To a large extent, I was truly happy that I did it. Maybe I wouldn’t do this again sometime soon, but I had two new findings: things might not be as scary as they looked; all I need to do is to give a try.

PS: I did suffer exhaustion later that day, and could barely walk for the following three days. But I still believe the experience is worthwhile.