Day 11-12: Hell!
So day 11 was us staying at Phantom Ranch and then Day 12 came around and hell descended upon us.
We wake up at 4:45 a.m. to get an early start on this hike. 9.1 miles, going up 5,000+ feet was going to be a haul. Average time to get out of the canyon is a 6-10 hour hike. Its July 24th so were right in the middle of the hottest time of the year. Joy
So we eat a quick breakfast and check in with the "sweeper" of the group who is one of the canyoneers employees. Most of our group seems to be in good shape with the exception of one lady.
Her husband brought her on this trip and she hates heights and doesn't like hiking. She's been fussing quite a bit on this trip (she was in the other boat thank god) and my wife and I were looking at each other thinking there is no way this lady is going to make it out. She's probably in her mid/late 40's and pretty large. Did not bode well for her....
Anyway off we go and it's just right, left, right, left for a long way.
I'm dreading this hike as my legs are still shot from that hike we did back in Sedona and when we climbed up to the grain shafts they were hurting pretty bad and that wasn't even 1/4th of the hike we were going to do today.
I had brought the ECV vests with us because I knew it was going to be very very hot once we got out of the canyon shadows and the sun started beating down on us. They went on pretty early as it was already pretty warm when we left camp.
So to make a long story short this friggen hike was BRUTAL
We could have taken it at a much slower pace but we just wanted to get up as fast as possible so we could get as much downtime as possible that night since we had a 400 mile day on the bike the next day (not the best planning on my part).
6.5 hours to hike out. My leg were shaking, back was locked up, huffing and puffing like a flogged horse
. My goose was cooked to say the least.
The worst part is the first 2/3rds of the hike is the "easier" part. The last 1/3rd is almost vertical (all switchbacks) and in the direct sun. Not fun
The rules of the trail are that people going up have the right of way. Our canyoneers guide warned us that most of the tourists who come down from the top do not understand this and to be careful.
That was an understatement. At first I was just moving out of peoples way on the way up. That was when I was at the 1/2 way point. As I kept going up it was getting tougher and tougher and more and more day tourists were hiking down a mile or two and then hiking back up.
So riddle me this.... If you're in a group of people, and then trail is only wide enough for 2 people to walk past eachother with a STEEP drop off always on one side or the other, why would you walk shoulder to shoulder and not move into a single file line when passing people????
I couldn't believe the amount of people hiking down who expected people hiking up to move out of their way because they were too important to be bothered with walking single file down the trail. I guess their conversations were that important compared to paying attention to the trail, being courteous, and most importantly SAFE since there are no handrails and it's a loooong drop off one side of the trail.
So now I'm about 3/4ths of the way up and I'm really starting to lose patience with people not moving. My wife and I were hiking single file the entire time. By the time I passed my 30th group of people shoulder checking me and not moving I was getting pissed. I would even look up at these groups of people walking down and they would look me dead in the eye and continue to walk right at me expecting me to move off the trail so they could walk 2 or 3 wide, side by side on a 2 person wide trail.
I lost it.
I'm trying to be cool about this but I couldn't take it anymore. We were obviously BEAT DOWN
and had been hiking a long time. Sometimes it's not a good idea to poke the old cranky bull and I'm 6'7 230 lbs.
I stopped moving off the trail and just stayed my line and lowered my shoulder. Well the first group of 8 or so people came barreling down again, all side by side and not moving, and I lit them up. Sorry Charlie. This gigante gringo was done being tolerant and it was game on.
The first person I hit spun off my shoulder like a top and swung towards the steep drop. I yelled at him to pay F*(@&^+# attention and he and his buddies yelled something back but kept going down. The next group that came down did the same thing and bam another shoulder into that group.
I was not aiming at them or trying to make contact. I was pressed as far right as I could be on the trail and they were still ramming into me as they were not paying attention.
I was seriously about to start going postal
as I'm now 5+ hours into this hike, it's got to be close to 100 degrees, and I still can't see the top.
My wife is yelling at me to calm down before I hurt someone but at this point all I was seeing was red.
I think that vibe started to show in my body language because people started giving me a wider berth.
Whatever works I guess.
We finished up the last mile of hell and finally crested the top. I think I almost cried.
If anyone is thinking of doing this rafting trip I highly advise hiking DOWN
to Phantom Ranch and ride the lower half of the grand canyon (bigger and better rapids there anyway) or do the long rafting trip that does the whole canyon. Hiking up SUCKED!
Some pics of the climb: I didn't take a lot because I was just more focused on putting one foot in front of the other.
Mama at the beginning of the trail:
About 2/3rds of the way up. You can see the switchbacks we've already climbed and the trail heading to the edge that drops off to the river. The tough part is just starting.... If you look at the picture above you've see a plateau way up at the top of the picture. That is the plateau about 2/3rds of the way up the picture below where the trail drops off the edge into the river/canyon part. It's a friggen haul!
We made it!! This trail should be called Wrong Angel Trail not Bright Angel Trail. Nothing "Bright" about it. We look dead sexy with these ECV vests on.
After that torture I had to hike another mile to go get the bike from the back country lot. Luckily it was still there and nothing seemed to be stolen.
Checked into the El Tovar Hotel for the night and started sucking down advil, water and got some food in us. I knew I was going to be in a lot of pain the next day and we had a 400 mile day ahead of us through the heat again. Bleh.....
Did have some Elk hanging out in front of the hotel though. That was cool!
I do have to mention that after we got home we called canyoneers to see if that one lady made it out and she did without a lifeline. Took her 11 hours. Props to her for making it all the way. It was probably one of the biggest things she has ever had to overcome in her life. Impressive!
P.S. The MRs had to hike a 1/2 mile after the climb to get to the hotel, had to pick up our 2 x 25 lb bags from across town, and had to get back to the hotel on the bus system. She got yelled at by the douchenozzle busdriver for some stupid chit and by the time she got back to the hotel she just plopped down on the bed and had a nice long cry.
Just one of those days where we were both beaten down and we both knew how many miles we had coming as day 12 was ending and we have only done 540 of the 6000 miles on this trip.
38% of the days have passed and we've made it 9% of the way....
Somehow this math isn't working out right....
On to the next adventure on Day #13...