The adventure began at 4pm last Friday when Margaux picked me up. After loading my stuff into car we headed into the mess that is Los Angeles rush hour on a Friday before a holiday. It took over an hour to get to downtown to pick up Bruno. Once our crew was assembled we made our way back into the orgy of bumpers and car horns. Friday was the most boring day of the trip because we spent the next ten hours in the car going to what we thought would be our campsite. I took over the driving duties around eight or so and with the aid of a five hour energy shot I drove through the night. If you remember, I cut all soda and caffeinated drinks out of my diet, so I was buzzing the entire time. This is really funny to me because when I first came out to Los Angeles last year with Chris I drank two full Monster energy drinks and an extra strength 5 hour energy shot to stay awake. Sadly, because I drank pop all the time, those drinks wouldn't work at giving me energy. I was dozing off at the wheel. This time around just the energy shot kept me up and awake for close to eight hours. I spent the time talking to Bruno about a multitude of different subjects. Sometimes he was awake, other times he wasn't. It didn't matter to me cause I was practically shimmering with energy and I needed to funnel it out somehow. We stopped for gas in the middle of nowhere and I insisted on driving the final leg of the trip cause I was so juiced. According to the GPS Lake Kaibab campsite was roughly an hour away. Unfortunately we didn't make it to the campsite because technology steered us wrong. We drove around searching for the entrance to no avail. We were so far out that I didn't have signal on my phone which meant that there was no GPS. So at three am we pulled into the parking lot of a closed gas station and slept in the car.
The next morning we decided to just go to the Grand Canyon then find the campsite after the hike. The first thing we did at the Grand Canyon was to sit down on a rock and eat breakfast. I had a Cliff bar and part of a bagel with cream cheese and fruit. Bruno gave me two pieces of already cooked toast with jam as well. I ate slowly and went past the point of feeling full because I knew that I'd be exerting that much energy plus more on the hike later on in the day. We walked along the outer rim and took pictures for thirty minutes or so. Once we covered about half a mile we went to the bus station and caught a bus over to the Bright Angel trail. The picture above shows the destination we set out to achieve. It's called the Indian Garden. The map says that it's 4.5 miles in. That sounds feasible since we could walk three miles per hour. We start making our way down the trail. A rule of thumb in the canyon is however long it takes you to get down, it will take twice as long to come back up. I told them to be prepared because I can go down with no problems, but coming back up would be a problem. I've been improving my uphill stamina with the Stairway to Heaven (Baldwin Hills Overlook, not the song), but I'm nowhere close to their level of fitness. I suggested we approach the return as if it would take three times the time it took to go down. Just as a buffer. With that in mind, we set a limit of an hour and a half to get to the Garden then come back because we still hadn't checked in with the campsite. Our pace was very slow with plenty of stops for pictures. The views at every turn were breathtaking. The morning sun rising across the canyon gave the walls different looks and colors every time were snapped a shot! The views were remarkable. Going downhill is not the same as walking on a flat plane. It's almost as tough as walking uphill because you have momentum trying to push you faster and faster downhill but the footpath isn't exactly smooth and flat. This results is a kind of a cautious march as you go down. We get to a ranger station about a mile and a half in and the clock is nearing the two hour mark. We solemnly found a spot to the side to sit down and eat lunch before heading up.
I stopped at the water station and drenched myself in two liters of water to help fight overheating on the trip back up. We were lucky that it was a cloudy day so the Sun was not an enemy. They didn't lie when they said that it takes twice as long to get back up. The trail is comprised mostly of zigzags. After three turns I'm running out of energy. I tried my hardest to keep going but I just couldn't push myself any more so asked if we could stop for about five minutes so I could catch my breath. I drank water and caught my breath then we were off for the second time. Two more turns and I am gassed again. This really sucks. We've covered maybe a quarter of a mile in this time and I'm gasping for air like a fish out of water. Margaux and Bruno are in shape and have no reason to stop but they are very kind and awesome people. They were patient with me and we agreed to stop every two zigzags for me to catch my breath. Sometimes we had to stop early, other times I pushed on for longer. Each time we stopped I made sure to drink water, Powerade, and every other stop I'd munch on some trail mix. About halfway up an elderly couple passed us. They were at least sixty years old each and adorable. From that point on, we leapfrogged each other on the way up. We'd pass them and they'd hand the torch to us and wish us well, then on our breaks they'd pass us and we'd smile and tell them that we'd see them at the next stop. It made the whole ordeal a little more entertaining because we weren't the only group frequently stopping. We reached the first landmark we passed on the way down and I told everyone that I wasn't going to stop until we made it to the top. After passing through the arch I realized that there was still about four turns left but I pushed through. Coming around the final turn we saw the elderly couple resting. I paused for a second and we talked. The husband was ready to go but the wife wanted to rest a little bit more. I convinced her to cross the finish line together, so the three of us held hands and walked the final 100 feet to the top! I wish I would have gotten their names and a picture with them. They motivated me to cut down on my resting periods and continue to push on. Surprisingly it had only taken a little over two hours to make it back up. We credited that to the slow pace we took on the way down as well as the numerous stops for pictures.
Once we made it to the top I looked for the nearest place to sit for a spell. I filled up my water bottle and downed half of it. My back is starting to ache slightly and my feet are tingling with future pains. I hobble along with the others to the car and we search the area for tourist information then a place to eat. We chose Wendy's. I had a large sized Baconator combo with fries and an orange pop. I was craving salty food because I sweat so much. I took two sips of orange pop and I was done with that. I'm proud of myself for squashing my pop addiction. Those empty calories are one of the bigger reasons for my extreme weight gain. I looked it up on My Fitness Pal. The Double Baconator from Wendy's is 980 calories. A large order of fries is 590 more. So I totalled 1,570 calories from that meal. Plus two sips of pop. Also according to My Fitness Pal I burned roughly 3,990 calories hiking for 210 minutes (Three and a half hours. I took off a half hour for breathers.) I'm not trying to justify my food splurge. Even though I burned more than twice the calories I took in, I still need to watch my sodium, fat, and bad cholesterol intake. Those items didn't help me very much in that aspect. There weren't too many healthy options in that area and I needed to eat as soon as possible.
...That wasn't the worst mistake I made that day...
I'm going to end this here. The second and third days were much shorter so I figure rather than write a huge post, I'll split it up into two smaller posts. You'll have to wait until tomorrow to read more!
Until the next episode!