Saturday, May 16, 2009

Finding our way to the top

The picture above does not tell the full story.
Well, yes, in one respect we were happy to be heading back up the canyon to the finish line. But from the look of this snapshot, you'd think it was an easy 4.5 mile trek back up to the top from Indian Gardens and that we were skipping along and smiling the whole time. So not the case.
This trip out of the canyon was physically demanding and exhausting.
The whole time you're heading down the trail, people, very sweaty people who look like they are going to collapse, are heading in the opposite direction. You see them and think, "Oh no. That's what it feels like to come back up."
Now, we were those people.
Going up is no joke. We gained thousands of feet in elevation, a fact that can do tricky things to your stamina.
Plus it was HOT. We are talking almost 100 degrees.
If there were moments of shade, they lasted only seconds. And each time it happened, everyone suddenly shielded let out a huge sigh of relief.
We stopped every 1.5 miles to munch on some snacks, refill our water and pump ourselves up for the next stretch. The picture above was taken at our last rest stop. At this point we only had a little over a mile to go!
I downed some Oreos. I think Meg pounded more dried fruit. Our teammate in the picture, Claire, had something, but I can't remember what. (It's obvious that my brain was beginning to melt.)
The donkey's passed us and a guide on one asked if we were doing okay. We must have looked exhausted. We assured him we were fine and that we were just resting up for the final push.
A little over an hour later we made it to the top. Mike and Mike were waiting there to congratulate us.
It was a huge relief and a great feeling to have accomplished this goal, so great in fact, that our team went immediately to the Bright Angle Lounge to celebrate.
While sipping our beers, a familiar face says, "Oh good, you girls made it out." It was the donkey guide.
We smiled and thought - yes, we made it out. Finally, after all the months of training, after endless switchbacks in the canyon, we had made it!


  1. One of the things I love about the Bright Angel trail is the people-watching opportunity it provides. I have seen elderly ladies with purses, teenagers in white pants and sandals, a man in ponchos carrying only a boombox, dusty mules and aggressive squirrels, and many other extraordinary sights on that trail. I've been to Indian Gardens but never to Plateau Point. Congratulations on having a good hike, especially on such a hot day!

  2. BTW, CGoetz is Cindy Guenthner...