Monday 24 October – Monday 31 October 2016
Day 1: We woke up at the Truck Stop (San Mateo) fairly early and headed straight to a Walmart to stock up on food and beer. We bought all the necessities including, ingredients for Sal’s special chilli, salty snacks in preparation for the treks and of course, beer. On the way to our first stop, Bakersfield, we stopped by an Outlet shopping centre, this was probably one of the first times we got to try the American shopping out. My star buy was a pair of Nike Free Runs from the Nike outlet, they only cost $50 opposed to the $180 RRP! The trainers were also a handy purchase seeing as we planned on doing treks in the Grand Canyon. We arrived at a truck stop in Bakersfield around 7pm. It was already dark so we climbed into the back and had a little picnic. We decided to get an early night so we could get on the road early in the morning, ready for the 500 mile trip to Arizona.
Day 2: After a nice sleep and another free night sleeping in the van it was time to descend on the big trip. Sal drove first, we were on the road before sun rise and whilst driving we experienced the most spectacular sun rise. The sky was filled with oranges and pinks. Beauty. The journey to the GC was one to remember, we drove on parts of Route 66 and across miles of desert. The colours, the scenery, the mountains, everything about the road trip was amazing! We took it in turns driving and made several stops. We arrived at the National Park around 6pm and went straight to the campsite to set up. We stayed in at the Mather Campground, located near the South Rim. It cost $18 for the spot a night plus a $30 National Park fee which was really good value. The camping spot came with a fire pit and picnic table. The communal toilets and shower block were also perfectly fine. Oh, the shower did cost $2 for a couple minutes so make sure you take a few coins with you!
Day 3: In morning Sal made us our usual, sausages and scrambled eggs! We also had orange juice and coffee to wash it down with. Today we walked to the south rim which was about 15 minutes walk through the forest from our campground which was really convenient. As soon as we approached the canyon we were blown away. The views were so surreal and it looked like a photo. We couldn’t quite believe how breath taking it actually was. It took us about 20 minutes to take in the initial sitings of the canyon. Once we collected ourselves we walk part of the rim trail. This was a easy walk to begin with although we were stopping for photos every 10 metres! I’m going to say it again, the views were breathtaking! We spent the majority of the day walking along the rim and getting used to the surroundings, lucky for us we were had booked 5 nights so had plenty more time to see it all again. Around 5pm we headed back to the campground for dinner and a couple of beers. Winter was starting so it became dark around 6pm and the temperatures dropped!
Day 4: The next day was another day for really taking in the atmosphere of the Grand Canyon. From walking along the rim trail, to checking out shops which were full to the brim of Arizonian souvenirs, it was a day for relaxing and taking in what the area had to offer. We were aware that the next day was our big day, the day we would trek into the rim of the Grand Canyon itself, aiming to reach The Indian Gardens, and so an early night was on the cards. Once back at our camper van, we made sure we organised ourselves accordingly for our big day, packing a lunch that had plenty of salty snacks, to fuel our energy levels whilst on the 9 mile round trip into the canyon. We were so excited to do a trail that we had heard so much about.
Day 5: Today was the day we were to embark on the Bright Angel trail. This particular trail was considered to be one of the harder ones, and was noted down on advice boards around the Grand Canyon as being very strenuous, and suggested you needed a good level of fitness. We felt confident, and although we didn’t have top range hiking boots, or a hiking stick for that matter, we felt perfectly capable in our nike free runs and a sweatshirt. The 4.5 mile hike down into the Grand Canyon seemed like a breeze. Whilst on our descent, we passed many signs reminding us that the downward hike was optional, but the upward hike was very much compulsory, however, we laughed and carried on with a spring in our step! On the trek down, there were pit stops set up at every 1.5 mile, allowing people to catch their breath, refresh and use the designated toilets (or shall I say rest rooms). It was nice to speak to other people from all walks of life at these points.