Just so you know, taking your family camping feels a bit like being a camp counselor. Everyone’s sweaty the whole time, and you’re always bossing them and pushing them to work harder. Also, you get to shush them at the campground. My husband thinks he’s the designated shusher. Just ask his sister.
Our second day at the Grand Canyon, we decided to take on a steep hike. I think I would maybe count this a rookie call for 26 people to make with babies in tow. But, it was supposed to afford beautiful views. We ate, cleaned up camp, made lunches, and left for the bus station. This takes awhile especially with that much mustard, mayo, and peanut butter to spread. We line up the bread on the picnic table, and we make a loaf of meat sandwiches. Then we make a loaf of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Then we make another loaf of meat sandwiches, slap them back into the bread bags, and divvy them up into three people’s backpacks. We take turns making sandwiches. I have to be very conscious to help. It takes me awhile to do four heads of girl-hair. It’s not only the tangles, mind you, it’s first finding the said child, wiping grime off of them, and making them sit still while they watch other cousins frolic in the forest.
We took two buses to the South Kaibab Trail. The transportation system at the Grand Canyon is very helpful and easy to use. Also, there are these violent pictures in the bus of a squirrel biting a person’s finger with blood dripping down. They are to discourage people from feeding the squirrels who have become quite aggressive. A Park Ranger said they have to treat many people for squirrel bites. That picture is one of my kids’ memories from the Grand Canyon. 🙂
The top view of the South Kaibab was astonishing. Again, I was continuously trying to confirm that this beauty was real. The vastness can play with your mind. We went down and down and around again. The beauty and edges were all around us. As parents we moved from being very cautious about the edges, to being too weary about carrying and worrying.
The trail guidebook said it affords “best views for a relatively short hike.” The views were best, but if you’re carrying a two-year-old it doesn’t seem short. Plus, the guidebook also said, “steep trail, no water, little shade.” This is true! Next time I do the South Kaibab, I will get there early in the morning. Despite the steepness, everyone trooped along. At lunch we had to face the music about how far we would go down. Because, alas, we still had to ascend back to the top of the rim. Some with babies turned around at lunch. We went on, not to be daunted. But, I carried someone most of the hike, and I was glad for the jogging I had done beforehand.
“You gotta pay to play,” is my husband’s motto, and we were working for the privilege of enjoying the view. Isn’t faith a bit like this? There is plenty of beauty to be had, but we must go through the sweat and we must go downward. We must rise up as well, breathe deep, and really see what is around us. And sometimes, you need to be carried by someone else. But, if you’re a child in heart, you quickly forget about your aching legs and play with sticks and enjoy the meal on the trail.
The end view was a little peninsula looking place that edged out over the canyon. You could see where the trail wound down into the canyon. We rested, ate snacks, and rationed our water. We discussed a five-year plan to come back when kids would be old enough to trek to the bottom of the canyon and back. Then we turned around and faced the hike up. I highly recommend this hike. If you go, leave early in the morning and take more water than you think you need.
Back at camp, my sister-in-law Beth was in charge of cooking. I know it was delicious but I can’t remember anything about it except that they fried biscuit dough to make donuts for dessert. Wow. Yummy. We had a fun campfire that night, and you can bet that we all slept like rocks. No bear would’ve woken us. Well, maybe.