Not much sleep passed by when the alarm clock rang at 3:00 am. We packed up the campsite and half an hour later headed off down the trail by the light of the flashlights. The temperature was a pleasant but somewhat muggy 80F.
A few hours passed and the sun went up. We reached the halfway point in a speedy three hours. Our craving for protein was satisfied with spam sandwiches, which at this point where as delicious as can be. A mule deer munched on leaves a few feet away from us.
Our pace was quick, as we were all eager to get to the top. The hike gradually got tougher and tougher. We carefully planned the water in our packs. Too little and you are parched. Too much and you are hauling water unnecessarily from water source to water source on your back.
The views higher in the canyon were better on the way back as the sun illuminated the cliffs more radiantly later on in the day. However, the same sun beat down on us as we battled sore muscles and tiredness on the trail, which slowly turned into a staircase. On we went, dreaming of the parking lot where Weronika was to meet us at 7pm.
We decided not to stop for the midday sun as there were no good shady areas. We also wanted just to get to the top. We battled the trail, passing through strata of different colored rocks which allowed us to judge our ascent. Angrily, they seemed to get farther and farther apart, much to our chagrin. The only thing left to do was to put the right foot in front of the left and not think too much about it. An occasional glance over the shoulder revealed the beautiful valley which slowly got deeper with time.
The last few hundred feet seemed like they were never going to end, but we finally emerged. We took of our socks and boots, laid down on our pads, and threw our feet onto a rock to cool them off. Half an our later, we got up, not so much refreshed, but more annoyed by the ants and flies which seemingly took pleasure in our misery.
It was noon now. We had come back up in eight hours even. With seven hours to go before Weronika would pick us up, we decided to try our luck at hitchhiking. We got lucky and the first minivan passing by stopped. We took the only available place in the back of the van. Unfortunately, the pleasant family from Massachusetts was turning a few miles down the road. Progress is progress.
We hiked on but no one would stop. Not even the drizzle evoked enough feelings of sympathy — no one wanted to stop. Campers, minivans, SUV’s, and a Pepsi truck passed by. Luckily, after about twenty minutes, a pickup truck took us on the tailgate and dropped us off at our lodge. A hamburger, shower, and a cold beer later we passed out in the comfort of our beds.
Weronika arrived later on. We regaled her with our stories as we caught the sunset over some magnificent overlooks of the Grand Canyon.