The Last Day in the Big Hole in the Ground
Our last day at the Grand Canyon, we decided to hike the Hermit’s Trail. You would think, “Unmaintained steep trail requires caution. Rocky and strenuous. Give uphill hikers the right of way” might deter our group filled with young children and babies. Nope. We were pumped. Can’t you tell?
We found the trail head and began to go down, down, down. It was a steep trail. It was rocky. It was not too strenuous yet, but our group began to spread out quickly depending on ability. It was a nice view, and we were by this time pretty much hiking-with-little-children-veterans. My sister-in-law with the baby was nursing while hiking. It was impressive and discreet. Moms are so awesome.
As veteran as we were, we had to stop a lot. We started evaluating quickly how far we should go down. Remember, the only way out is up on this canyon trip. When you are hiking with little kids, it is important to know your limits. I was beginning to accept that limit was coming soon. The view was worth any sweat, tears, or whining. I wonder if we consider this when we venture into what God calls us to. A lot of times I’m too busy staying safe in everyday life to take a risk for a view I would never want to miss.
I think we made it to the Hermit Trail Junction, but I actually can’t remember. Our older kids went further with their uncle and cousins. We turned around, and began the long hike up. We stopped often to rest and munch and drink water. I remember my leg muscles burning. I remember worrying if the girls were drinking enough. I also remember our whole group being so spread out that I didn’t know who all had made it back up the mountain. Delirium might have played a part, but we were laughing and having fun. Claire even found a perfect resting spot!
When we made it to the top, we waited for the rest of the group to come. The kids thought they wouldn’t make it, but as soon as we sat down to rest, they started running around exploring. What is that about? I guess we can muster up the energy for what we really want to do. The rest of the afternoon we spent toodling around the shops at the South Rim. We bought some souvenirs, and the girls were sworn in as Junior Rangers. If you decide to go to a National Park with kids, you should let them do the Junior Ranger program. To participate, go to a ranger station when you first arrive and get the booklet. There are fun assignments to complete as you explore the park together, and once completed you turn it in. The Ranger swears them in, and they get a badge and a certificate. They loved it!
Before heading back to the campground, we went to the ice cream shop. This is an important tip you should remember about National Parks: they have amazing ice cream. It was so yummy, I can’t even tell you how yummy it was. We enjoyed it so much, we didn’t even yell about the drippy cones or sticky shoes from stepping in the drips.
I have to confess to you that I do not remember what we ate that night. All I think about when I try to remember is that ice cream cone. I might be obsessed a little. Just a little. The campfire time was fun as always, and there was various boasting from those who made it to the Dripping Springs on the Hermit’s Trail and back. In our family, everything is a competition. Yes, everything. I sat back in my green camping chair with the ripped cup-holder and let them boast away. I was completely satisfied with my hiking performance–especially knowing next trip my kids will be older and I’ll beat their pants off. With a last look at the stars, we were a little sad as we zipped into our sleeping bags one last night.