For the first time in months, I had trouble getting to sleep. Too much on my mind maybe? It definitely wasn’t to cold since I was toasty underneath my downie. When Kylie, Derek, Tom, Cat and I all got together, Kylie was getting over a cold. Derek then got it, then Cat and now it was my turn. Although I wasn’t convined I’d ever actually got over the cold I’d had since Jon’s visit, this was a new addition. I didn’t let it phase me. After a good morning routine of hawking up flem, I was right to go.
We all took our time making breakfast, hot oats for me to soothe my throat. Emma’s mood had worsened overnight so it was an especially slow and painful process for D&K to keep her happy. Hopefully the canyon would change that. While the others set off on the Transept trail that I’d followed last night, I got my bike off the roof and rode in to the visitor’s centre, which is near Bright Angel Point. My aim was to collect a free North Kaibab trail guide. Crazy as it sounds, I was hoping to hike down to the river and back in one day. I’ve done this before, but on the south rim where the total round trip hike is 15 miles. Since the north rim is further away from the Colorado and higher, the round trip from here is 29 miles, so only twice the distance and a little more elevation than before. All the trail guides suggest this is a 4 day hike and that it is not recommended to go more than 6 miles down into the canyon in a single day, but I was tempted by the thirteen hours of daylight available to me! At the visitor’s centre, I didn’t even ask for advice, just for the free guide because I knew mentioning my plan would get me a lecture. The ranger, Jeremy, was helpful in telling me that I probably should have gone today for better weather and that the temperature difference between the rim and the valley can be up to 5*C.
I wandered off to the lodge to see what all the fuss was about and it was a beautiful place of lodgement with a restaurant that still has the charm that it did back in the early 1900s. The massive windows in the sitting area at the back of the lodge were great for taking in the view. As I was doing so, I saw two very familiar people carrying two very familiar children on their backs and made for the trail. I caught up with the D&K fam at Bright Angel point. We got a photo there but soon head back to the lodge to get out of the wind.
Emma didn’t want to sit outside in the sun so we lingered in the sitting room for a while, waiting for one of the comfy couches to open up. The sun beckoned so I went and sat outside. The timber lounge chairs were perfect for sitting and taking in the view, which many people were doing. I put my feet up and perused my North Kaibab guide, noticing that all the things I planned to do were written in bold with exclamation marks emphasising they shouldn’t be done. Hmmm.
Back inside the lodge, D&K had found a front row couch where everyone was having something to eat. While standing at the front window, I got talking to a couple that had found a sweet free camp just outside the park in national forest that was right on the rim. Kudos to them, we chatted for a while since we were similar people.
When the kids were ready, we made for the visitor’s centre where I left them and rode back to camp. Before I got to our site, I stopped in for a look in the general store since Kylie had said there hiking clothes on sale there. Needing a replacement pair of pants for the ones I split in half in Joshua Tree, I was interested. I tried on a pair of women’s shorts and the guy version which was way more versatile in the way of pockets. The staff in the shop let me in to their bathroom to try my gear on and I was surprised to find the women’s pants fit me perfectly. Only $20 too! Perfect.
I was the first one back to our site and I was contemplating doing a short 5 mile hike along Uncle Jim’s trail, but once I was at camp sitting in the sun with some food, I changed my mind. The cold was getting worse anyway so I figured an afternoon of rest would do me good, especially to prepare me for tomorrow’s onslaught. D&K soon joined me and we all took our places in the sun with our lunch. Tom and Cat walked in a while later and they did the same.
We all spent the afternoon in different ways, but it was all very low key. After making lunch for my epic hike the next day, I started working on a movie while sitting in my van, Tom was blogging on his laptop, changing positions to try and keep warm, Cat had a nap in the sun and D&K predictably kept the kids entertained (no rest for the parents). By the time 5pm rolled around, Tom cracked a beer, then a bottle of red was opened and we all convened inside the obnoxious tent for some warmth and cooking. I gave up on my van cooking when the wind stopped my water from boiling so we all huddled in. I made myself a carb-fest with potatoes and pasta that filled me right up. Washed down with a hot chocolate and I was almost feeling warm.
Once the dishes were done, Tom and Cat de-lofted the arc and went for a drive to find a nice sunset view point while the rest of us were on kid duty. Emma wished me goodbye with the blow of a kiss and an encouraging wave then Derek and I did our best to get Oliver changed into his night clothes. I bid Kylie goodbye before she started the bed time story routine and did the same with Derek a while later. We couldn’t predict the next time we would see each other thanks to my up-in-the-air plans and the uncertainty of their future. We resolved that it would probably be in California in September if plans aren’t modified too much. We shall see! Tom and Cat returned to camp after having a sunset view point all to themselves. It was much too cold to stay outside for long so we bid each other ado, them wishing me luck for my hike tomorrow and me on the rest of their journey.
I retreated into the van for the rest of the night in the hopes of getting to sleep early so that my 4:45am start didn’t seem so rude. We’ll see how that goes…