Day 5 was filled with a 9-mile hike down and back up the Bright Angel Trail at the Grand Canyon. The visit was my first to this worldwide wonder, and we had a beautiful day. As we drove North from Williams, Arizona, we decided that we would hike the Bright Angel Trail for a few hours, head back up and then walk the Rim Trail to see more of the canyon.
But first, a few facts about the Grand Canyon:
- The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long and up to 18 miles wide
- It took 3-6 million years to form; erosion continues to alter its contours
- The Canyon is home to approximately 70 species of mammals, 250 species of birds, 25 types of reptiles and five species of amphibians
- It was formed by the Colorado River, which flows west through the canyon and averages about 300 feet width, 100 feet in depth and flows at an average speed of four miles per hour
After struggling to find a parking spot, we walked a bit to the head of the Bright Angel Trail. I had many others recommend this hike if you’re only in the area for a day. I started out the hike fresh with a thank you to Adam & Lindsey Good. Adam is my first cousin. Our kids go to the same daycare which has been a really fun aspect of life.
This post may be a bit different than most, as I really just want to let the pictures tell the story. Text will be limited. Plus, I’m sitting at a Burger King in Navajo Nation with spotty WiFi, so I need to be quick!
The hike took us through a few rock tunnels.
I thanked our great friends Joe & Sarah Wechsler for their donation. As fellow hikers, I know that they would adore a few days at the Grand Canyon. Their son Ben surprised my son Calvin with a sponsored thank you sign during an organized charity event in Charleston, South Carolina. The little guy took a page out of my playbook, and it was awesome.
A mile or so into the hike, I wanted to show off the impressive rock structures near the top. I thanked Andrew Christy, a fellow Phi Delt who I’ve worked with to support the fight against ALS.
The colors were incredible. It’s monsoon season, so the scenes were much more green than normal.
My trustee companion and me.
I felt like I was stopping every few minutes wanting to snap more photos. It was tough to leave the camera in my pocket. I thanked Kerrie Herren, a fellow colleague and friend who is a high school principal in Kansas City. Kerrie and I used to run together quite a bit, and I know he could continue to leave me in his dust.
Along the trail are a few rest houses that have water and bathrooms. We passed one at the 1.5 mile mark and then another at the 3 mile mark. At this stop, I thanked Brad & Kelly Becker for their donation. Brad is a Fraternity brother who lives in Kansas City. I was able to see him in Ames a few months back and always love spending time with him. I’m doing my best to convince him and his family to accompany our family for a future Spring Break trip.
It was also at this point that we expected to turn around and head back up. It would have been a 6-mile hike at this point. Travis was rearing to do more, and I couldn’t stop his enthusiasm. I’m really glad we made the decision to keep going. Our 6-mile hike was about to turn into a 9-mile hike.
I kept taking pictures looking down into the Grand Canyon, and Travis suggested turning around and getting the view behind us. Another good call by Griff. I thanked Sparky Reardon again for his donation.
Another shot of the two us.
As we got closer to our turnaround point, we entered the most green area. The trail flattened out some. I thanked Rob & Julie Waltz once again.
I utilized a nice rock to thank Roger and Paula Griffith. Roger and Paula are Travis’ parents and great family friends. It was fun to see Travis communicating with his dad throughout the hike. Roger is an outdoor enthusiast himself and has hiked the Grand Canyon. He went full in as he hiked down to the bottom with a 42 pound backpack, stayed five nights at a campsite, and then hiked back up another trail. Impressive. Thanks Roger and Paula for your donation and for raising Travis to be such a great guy.
We entered a campsite near our turnaround point. Much more vegetation.
At our turnaround point, I thanked my colleague Debbie Smith. Debbie has been a great supporter of my trips, and I always love thanking her!
Going back up the Canyon, I thanked my former colleague Alex Stefanic and a fan of the undefeated Clemson Tigers.
Bright Angel is a popular trail, so it was fun to pass hikers along the way. There area so many types of people from all over the world at the Grand Canyon. Everyone was so friendly, and it felt a lot like home saying hi to everyone.
We completed the hike and were absolutely gassed. We looked forward to checking into our hotel room and relaxing.
My fatigue caused me to grab the wrong thank you sign out of my backpack. This one was supposed to be for Mike Scarlatelli. Sorry, Scar!
We stayed at the Yavapai Lodge within the National Park. The rooms were very basic, but quite nice, and everything you need for your stay at the park. You shouldn’t be in your hotel room anyways! I thanked Kevin Marks, a during-trip donor who has supported me for a few years now. My dad and I met up with Kevin in Dubuque during our journey down the Mississippi River.
We enjoyed dinner, drinks, and game one of the World Series at the tavern on-site at Yavapai. Randomly, we shared a table with the Vice President of the property (and many other National Park properties across the country). It was fun to hear his story and learn more about what he does.
Feeling bad about not thanking Scar earlier in the day, Travis realized that we had the sign on us, and he snuck in a working pick. This is basically what each night looks like, really tired, typing away to update the blog. For the record, I am not flicking off the camera. Onward to Northern Arizona and an overnight in Page.