It was only Day 2 of the Western BLT Trek America Tour and I'd already been in 3 States, seen the Colorado River, driven on Route 66 and was about to visit the Grand Canyon. From Seligman we headed further into Arizona to one of the Natural Wonders of the World.
The drive felt like we were storm chasing, with a grey sky ever present. We eventually reached Grand Canyon village, and I couldn't believe my eyes. There was a roundabout! So they do have them in America after all. After leaving the trailer at our hotel for the night, the Red Feather Lodge, we headed into the park for a spot of lunch. And a hail storm. Now, everyone say's America does things bigger and better, and judging by the size of the hailstones, I totally agree. Luckily it finished as quickly as it came, and by the time we had finished eating we could see the sun again, albeit behind a few clouds.
Do you know what amazed me about the Grand Canyon. How green it was. You have to drive through a forest to get to the actual canyon. In my head I was expect a sandy type of desert and then then BAM, there it is. It's nothing like that. We pulled up into the car park and Shawn announced we were going to do a trust exercise. Well, I don't do trust exercises. I trust people, don't get my wrong, but they genuinely make me have a panic attack. And I'd known these people 2 days. We were each presented a bandana, and told to blindfold ourselves. Then, in a sort of sensory-deprived conga line, we did a nervous shuffle to the edge of the Grand Canyon. With the sound of laughter and giggles in many languages providing an embarrassing soundtrack. If I wanted the world to swallow me up, I was in the right place. After what seemed like hours of shuffling and navigating a couple of steps up we all removed our blindfolds on 3. The sun hit our eyes and it took us all a couple of seconds to see it, but when we did we all had the same reaction. Wow.
Now, this is not the time to get gushy, but I just want to thank Shawn and Trek America for doing this reveal. If you just walked up to it, of course it would have been good, but you can see it and then you get to the edge and it's like oh a big hole. We, on the other hand got to experience the sheer size. So big that you can rainstorms across the rim actually moving, but be stood in blazing sun. It's crazy. I wasn't actually too fussed about seeing the Grand Canyon. I mean I wanted to, but I didn't think it was going to be the highlight of my trip. After seeing it for the very first time, I was left speechless (always a first). I wandered round the rim in a bit of a daze, staring at the eagles and the squirrels. Just taking it all in. Despite it being after lunchtime and fairly busy, it was so quiet. It seems it has this effect on everyone.
We arrived back at the hotel and had some time before our group Mexican tea. Can I just say how much this lodge reminded me of Pretty Little Liars. You know in series one where Mona hides out while she's being A?
Over dinner Shawn was umming and ahhing about getting us up to watch the sunrise. It had been a pretty stormy day today, and he didn't want us getting up before the crack of dawn for something we might be disappointed by. In the end he decided we just needed to do it. So after Shawn had taught Stewart & I about American Football and we were all stuffed from eating Tacos and Burritos we head back to pack our suitcases and get some sleep before our early rise.
When I said early rise, I meant 4 am. Surprisingly we didn't have to wait for anyone and after loading the trailer up, we left for the Canyon at 5am. It was eerie driving back into the park in the dark, and looked a lot less friendly than before. We made our way to the same view point, armed with hoodies and a few blankets from the trailer. We all sat curled up under a blanket in complete silence and watched the sun rise. There were a few other people around, but it was completely silent. All of us just taking in the incredible experience. I've never actually seen the sun rise before, but wow.
This picture will never do it justice, and I felt pretty emotional. In the back of my head I was expect ing all the little critters to line up like in the Lion King, but mostly I was just amazed with how beautiful it was. By the way, the above picture hasn't be enhanced and altered at all. It was perfect. As cheesy as it sounds, I feel extremely lucky and privileged that I got to see this, and I couldn't have imagined sharing it with a better group of people. It's a sight I will never forget for as long as I live, and I honestly don't know if it could ever be topped. The early start was worth it.
After we had all gotten over the sheer wonder of watching the sunrise over the Grand Canyon we got set to trek. One thing I haven't mentioned yet is that I'm petrified of heights. I didn't think it was a massive deal. Until I got to the Grand Canyon that is. I decided to give the hike a go and we headed over to the start of the South Kaibab Trial.
There was actually a handful of us that were a bit nervy so we all stuck together while everyone else walked on. We slowly walked down the ever winding path. I think the one thing that freaks me out the most is that there is no hand rails. I actually heard an American guy say "Where's the safety?!". There is none my friend. After a while, Emma and I had done what we could. The paths were getting steeper and the drops were more sheer. It was time to head up. I was so proud of what I actually managed to do. The day before I was nearly in tears trying to get a photograph on the edge of the Canyon, so this was a big deal for me.
I'm actually quite glad we headed up at that point. Any further and I would have died trying to get back. You know like normal walks, the hard bit is going up the mountain and it's dead easy on the way back coming down? It's the opposite at the Canyon. As we still had over 2 1/2 hours left to hike, Emma & I decided to do the Rim Trial instead. Rather than going into the canyon, we walked round it and saw the most amazing views. The thing about the Canyon is, that it's never not breath taking. I have over 100 pictures of rocks on my memory card to prove this. If you want to see a picture of a pretty rock, I'm your girl.
It happened to be Emma's birthday and we had a good old gossip, talked about bits and pieces from home, and just got to know each other better. We met up with Becky half way on the trial after she had had enough of the first trial, and continued our peaceful walk, only bumping into a handful of people. It was such a nice way to spend the morning. walking over 3 miles back to our meeting point, and kicking the same pine cone along the path for nearly 1 of those (it was more fun than it sounded).
Once everyone had hiked, we headed back to the village to grab some lunch. It was here I started to feel a bit ill. We were sat in McDonalds. Yes there is a McDonalds at the Grand Canyon. Now I know what you're all going to say, you come all this way and you go and have a McDonalds, but it had the best Wifi around so, naturally we camped out there. At first I thought it was because we had been up early and I'd yet to have something to eat. But, after eating a huge burger I couldn't get warm. I was physically shivering and my teeth were chattering. Always a trooper I shrugged it off as a teeny tiny bug and became the van DJ as we headed from one wonder to another, Las Vegas.
Make sure you come back next Thursday to hear about Vegas (Baby).