Next was the Grand Canyon. It only took 36 years for me to see it and I was truly amazed. We arrived an hour or so before dark and wanted to ride to the rim from our campsite. Chris's knee was in bad shape now and prevented him from walking and riding. Dale informed Chris that he would be removing the spine from his knee after Dale and I returned from the rim and it would be best if he was drunk by then. Dale and I spent some time taking pictures and checking things out at the rim. When we returned Chris was ready, 9 beers down and 2 to go. He didn't get it out but enjoyed using his snake bite kit, latex gloves, knife, and whatever else he found in the first aid kit.
The next morning the plan was to ride out to the South Kaibab Trailhead and hike as far down the trail as posible with the ultimate goal to make it to the Colorado and back. Dale and I figured Chris would not be able to make it far,but he did very well on the short ride and seemed to be getting around quite well. At the trailhead we met a guy who thought we would have no problem making our goal to the bottom and back. He would be the only one to encourage our plan. Numerous signs and other hikers warned us of the danger of such a feat. None of these people or signs know us or what we are capable of. We were cooling our feet in the river about three hours later. We decided to take a different route back to check out Phantom Ranch and hike out on the Bright Angel Trail. From Phantom Ranch we each sent a post card to our families and relaxed in the lodge built in 1928. On our hike out we passed through the campground and wished we were staying the night, partly out of fatigue but mostly because it was such a cool place. Hiking out was about 2 miles longer than the way down and the terrain was very different. The Kaibab was dry and had little plant life while Bright Angel was lush and green, we even saw a rattle snake near Indian Garden (another camping area). We made it to the rim at 6:30 pm, 8 hours and 50 minutes to complete the 16-17 mile hike.
The next day was a much needed rest day with most of it spent driving the the next adventure. We passed through Page AZ on our way to meet my good friend Tom F at the Paria Canyon Trailhead. Our plan for the following day was to shuttle a car and ourselves to Wire Pass where we would then hit Buckskin Gulch, camp a couple nights and hike back up the Paria to our waitng truck. Buckskin Gulch was the whole reason the trip came together. It's claimed to be the longest slot canyon in the world at 20 + - miles and known as one of the top ten backpack trips. It truly lived up to all the hype others have created. It had sections of waste deep standing water, quicksand, canyon walls 300 feet high and as narrow as 6 feet, wide sections with an oasis of trees and long green grass, and boulder jams 30 feet high. The hike was amazing, so much so that it was hard to take it all in (thank god for the camera). At roughly mile 7 we climbed out the Middle Route to reveal the scoured landscape above, rough red rock and sand as far as you can see. A few hours later we would arrive at camp exhausted and completely blown away by the beauty and magnitude of the canyon. Our camp was near the confuence of Buckskin and Paria, walled in by 300 foot cliffs but elevated about 30 feet above the canyon floor. It was a high sandbar complete with trees and bright green grass.
the next day the plan was to go down the Paria for a day hike and return to camp another night. The Paria had calf deep water a little warmer than freezing . We decided to cancel the day trip and break camp. We still had to endure a good hour plus walking up steam in the frigid water. This part sucked I could not feel my feet but kept moving until the canyon was shallow enough for the sun light to reach a sand bar on the canyon floor. We stopped for a long time to soak up the warmth until feeling returned to our feet. Onward we marched, happy that the river was warmer but sad that each step brought us closer to the end of this amazing place.
The rest of the trip was more driving than fun, but we manged to have fine mexican meal with Tom before we headed for home and Tom headed to Vegas to meet his wife. On the way home we stopped to see the Four Corners and buy some Navajo souvenirs. We also stopped in Durango for one last ride where Dale made the realization that he did not suck at riding and that the bike he just bought was shipped one size too big. Special Thanks to Dale, Chris, and Tom for accompanying me on an awesome adventure. Extra special thanks to Dale for buying all the diesel for the truck.