We rocked up at The Grand Canyon at about 5 pm still a bit damp from slick rock and had 1 h to build our camp and devour pizza before heading off for our first view of the canyon. We drove to the south view and after getting off the bus we were told to line up in two lines and given a bag to place over our heads. In single file with hands on shoulders we slowly marched in two lines to the South rim. We were then all placed in a long line against the fence and told to remove them all at the same time. I just couldn’t believe the view and size when I removed my bag. I was in such awe I dropped my bag and it blew over the side. The funniest thing is that behind us were fellow tourists filming us shuffling about with our bagged heads. Sadly it was a cloudy evening so we didn’t really see a true sunset but I still took loads of photos.
After the heat of San Diego and Scottsdale it was a shock to find that it drops to 3 degrees at night in the canyon. Luckily I was prepared with my season 4 sleeping bag so I was all toasty in my usual shorts and vest pj set compared to the rest of the group who slept in several layers of clothing.
Wednesday was an early start to get to the heli pad for 7 am. Unfortunately, the cloud cover was too bad and flights were cancelled, as unbeknown to me clouds cause turbulence. However, we were able to rearrange it for 14:00 so we headed back and started a hike on the bright angel trial to the first hut. We set off at 8:30 and made it to the first hut 1.5 km deep within the hour. There were no barriers so at times the edge was very close, I think it made the views even more breath taking. At the first hut there was a rock projecting out into the canyon, so we took some group shots and using the lucky beaver I re-enacted a lion king scene, pretending it was Pride Rock.
Returning to the top was much harder, with many stops required, including one to have a munch on some crisps. By 1100 we were back up at the top, total distance trekked was ~ 10 k. The rest of the group returned to camp but I wanted to savour my time there so continued solo onto the rim walk.
Luckily by 14:00 the clouds had cleared in the main and the helicopters were allowed to fly. Our pilot was called Ben, who was a cheery fella, that liked McDonalds and a selfie. It was also good as all the passengers were from my group, we were given specific seating positions dependant on our weight to ensure the helicopter was balanced. I don’t remember this happening when Dr Malcolm flew to Jurassic Park.
After leaving the pad we flew for about 5 minutes 300 ft over trees, suddenly we were at the edge and 4500 ft from the floor. It was the most immense feeling, we couldn’t help but scream and swear and Pete even had tears in his eyes.
Our total flight lasted around 45 minutes, Ben was an excellent pilot, pointing out various trials, sharing facts and we even saw what looked like tiny rafts floating down the Colorado River. In the run up to my holiday I was unsure whether to do the flight, I’m so glad I did, you get to see the enormity of the whole place and it wipes your mind of anything else. Post flight I looked a bit green and felt a bit sick, so upon returning to camp took to my sleeping bag for a little nap. I think I’d had too much excitement, adrenaline and joy in a short space of time.
After dinner we raced to watch sunset over the Canyon, I was sad to think that I may never see the view again so I shouted goodbye to it. It’s so hard to explain what it’s like, but it made me feel so happy and lucky for it’s the best thing I’ve ever seen.
A load of photos can be found here