Grand Canyon Rim to Rim — Page 3

South Kaibab Trail - Skeleton Point

III. Speeding Toward Skeleton Point

I'm a little perplexed, to be honest, why everyone is running such a hot pace today. There are a lot of obvious Rim-to-Rim hikers on the trail, and they're all moving with surprising alacrity.

To my eye we've all gotten a nice early start, so we should be well ahead of schedule with the whole day ahead of us. But the general push of all these hikers, plus my own rapidly disappearing group members, has me wondering if there's something I'm missing.

Bruce Points the Way

Bruce Points the Way

South Kaibab Trail

South Kaibab Trail

My Brother and Me

My Brother and Me

Yucca Leaves

Yucca Plant

I know what I don't want to miss: my mission is not to race through this wondrous landscape as quickly as possible, or, alternately, to get so focused on photographing it that I fail to actually see it.

Once upon a time, I lived in nearby Flagstaff, where we viewed the Grand Canyon as a right-in-our-own-backyard kind of asset. Oddly enough, I took for granted that I could visit the Canyon anytime I wanted, and yet I almost never did.

Today, living some five hundred miles away, this strikes me as a travesty of sorts. Maybe I didn't need to be a teenage version of Harvey Butchart, but surely I could have done better than two hikes over nearly two decades!

In any case, I'm here now, and I want to savor every moment—as much as I can given the logistical realities of a 21.2 mile day hike. And, damn it, I'm also rapidly discovering just how much time it takes to stop, shoot video, and then get moving again.

I find myself leapfrogging the same hikers over and over again. I'll pass them but soon stop to shoot another 10-20 second clip of video, and then they pass me. And again. I try boosting my hiking speed, which mostly just seems to make a few blisters flare up. Eventually, I reach Skeleton Point, high atop the Redwall layer and the Tonto Plateau.

Here I've got to stop to attend to my feet—even though my own companions are completely out of view. I pull off boots and socks and tape up the hot spots. Now also seems like a good time to eat a snack, put on some sunscreen. It's quiet. The rush of day hikers heading down has receded, leaving me plenty of open space all to myself.

I suppose I ought to be a little more worried about my pace, but you know what? It just feels so good to be here. I needed this hike. There are changes speeding toward me and my family this year that I'm reluctant to confront. Here, in the quiet of the Canyon, I find a moment of peace and freedom. But, as with all good things, this moment cannot last. I'll try to move a little faster, I decide, as I eye that distant North Rim. But first, I'm going to take a few more pictures...

next: Tonto Plateau



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