What is grand, red, deep, orange and brown, with cacti all over?
The Grand Canyon of course! Just this last spring break, six SMU students and 3 SMU alums decided to spend their Spring Break testing their mental and physical strength as they backpacked down, through, and back up the Grand Canyon on a 6 day trek. And I’m happy to say they were not disappointed.
All of us were tested in just the first two days, and it was not because of the Canyon, but because of the 16 hour drive. Over the course of two days of travel, we all got to know each other very well…almost too well sitting in the 12 passenger van. Finally though, we reached the Grand Canyon, and the view over the rim into the canyon was incredible. Everyone was getting excited for the hike to begin!
So, on Monday afternoon, we descended into the canyon with our first campsite to be the glorious Horseshoe Mesa. Our hike was only to be 2 1/2 miles, but in those two miles, we dropped almost 2600 feet. Not to mention, we were greeted on the trail by thick layers of ice that made the trail slightly treacherous, especially when you are carrying a 50 pound backpack. The instep crampons helped though. As we hikers tend to do, we braved the decent and were treated to a glorious night full of delicious backcountry cuisines and a bright, nearly full moon that followed us through the week.
On Tuesday, we hiked nearly 6 miles to a secluded spot along the Grapevine Creek, where we would spend the next two days. Here, we were able to relax and converse along the creek as we began to really come closer as a group. Also, many people took the opportunity to get some sun in, read, or simply explore the area. We even took a day hike down the creek and got to see what it looked like to be really deep within the canyon itself. Some participants even decided to take a quick dunk in the creek, just to see what it was like.
After our break, we took off once more, this time headed for long tree canyon. I hate to say it, but there happened to be a multitude of trees…well at least things that looked like trees. Again, we enjoyed the view of the canyon and even got to spend some time with some hikers from the University of Arizona who gladly shared some of their delicious food with us. Again, we enjoyed some delicious foods as we watched the moon ascend into the sky and enjoyed the glorious view of the canyons still surrounding us. We even got together to play some epic games of cards until we could no longer stay awake.
The last day was spent getting prepared for the long hike out of the canyon. We tried to get as close to the starting climb as possible…well, almost too close. Most of us decided to sleep outside that night. We woke up at 6:00 and began our long journey back to the rim of the canyon. From the bottom to the top, we climbed around 4-5 miles in distance and 3200 ft. in height. All the way, day hikers were encouraging us, telling us we were just about there. So, after 4 hours of hiking, we finally reached the top! Looking back down we could see where we had just camped and we could not be any more proud of our accomplishment of hiking through the Grand Canyon!
After getting everyone back in the van, we all took the shower we deserved and satisfied our hunger with a little grub from a real restaurant. Then, we began our journey back home to Dallas, and sadly, back to the reality of the front country. I know though, as I’m sure everyone on the trip knows, that this trip will always live within us, and it will always be a great reminder of what a group of 10 people can actually accomplish.
Outdoor Adventures Trip Leader