The morning started quietly. Matt Redman’s “10,000 Reasons” woke our room up.. 3:30 a.m… “Bless the Lord Oh my soul, oh my soul, worship His holy name..” We checked out and quickly divided out the 4 packed early riser breakfasts the motel provided, and with the receptionist’s “watch out for animals” ringing in my ear, we were off. The girls settled in for our 70 mile drive to the trail head right away.. I’m not sure how many of them even saw the cow elk that was preparing to step on the road in front of us.. Or the actual bovine cows, bedded down by the road. I laughed to myself. If that isn’t the typical cow.. 10,000 acres (approximately, this may just be a wild Kendra guess) to roam over, and they bed down practically on top of the road..
The sun is starting to rise the closer we get to the Grand Canyon West Trailhead.. I’m amazed by the almost 180 degree sunrise.. The light stretches clear around us.. “The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning, it’s time to sing Your song again, whatever may pass and whatever lies before me, let me be singing when the evening comes..”
So we park the van and stand breathlessly at the edge of the Canyon. It is beautiful and the trail looks nothing like it does at Grand Canyon South.. Those among us who were extremely apprehensive, take a deep breath and feel much better.. We load our back packs down with a gallon of water and Gatorade, a prayer, and, optimistically, we are off.
The trek is downhill. Really rocky, but there is a wonderful cloud cover and it’s 62 degrees. This isn’t at all bad.. We sure are thankful to think we’ll be riding horses out of here, though.
Mile 1.5: we are going strong. We weren’t sure how compatible our hiking speeds would be, but we stay together.. Marching along single file.. a strand of “on and on we walk together..” or “marching on, with our flag unfurled, marching on we are marching on..” and the occasional cowboy melody.. “all day I faced the barren rays, without a trace of water..” rings through the canyon walls and up into the sky that stretches forever above us..
Mile 5: our pace really hasn’t’ changed that much. We enjoy the camaraderie with other hikers, stopping to chat and attempt to get a feel for where we are on the trail. We stop for a snack break and spread our “all you can eat buffet” before us.. Granola bars, trail mix, jerky, chips and salsa, chocolate covered pomegranates.. We are doing great.. A raven calls out overhead. We see lizards and Stellar Jays.. The white yucca blooms against the red canyon walls are lovely.. Some drunk guy gives us the false hope that we are almost there. We meet our first Mule train. And second train. And third..
Mile 6: We see a sign that says 2 miles to Supai. We’ve been walking in a dry river bed, but the landscape changes, and we get our first view of the pristine waters of Havasu Creek. It is the clearest water ever, and green trees are plentiful. We meet our fourth mule train. And fifth.. And sixth. We trudge on.
Mile 8: We enter the Supai Village. Home to 500 of the Havasupai Indian Tribe. It is really like visiting another country. We walk among the untethered horses on the dirt road. The houses are not in great shape. Fences line the road and corn grows in funny little rows. Dogs roam the street. English is not the language I’m hearing among the locals. And I feel really tired, overheated, and like I’m carrying the weight of the world in my backpack.
We made the trek in a little under 3 hours. So we go to check in. And here we have 5 hours until check in. The angel behind the desk whispers; “Don’t tell those boys in front of you, but I’m going to let you have Room 19 right now..” Bless her. We crash for a power nap. 🙂
Mile 9: We walk up to the only food place in town. Originally named “The Café” and partake of the refreshment they have to offer.. Walk over to the store, and around town a little until it’s time to check in. Then head out once again..
Mile 11-13: These are fun miles. It is hot, but the river and the falls are breathtakingly gorgeous. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such beauty. The magnesium in the water is supposedly what gives it its turquoise color.. The red rocks shows it off perfectly. Hidden in the depths of the Canyon. I’m amazed, to say the least.. And the icing on the cake of this experience is the refreshing swim in these beautiful waters..
Mile 14: The receptionist delivers the cold reality: there will be no horseback riding tomorrow. Somehow there was miscommunication, and the man who usually takes visitors out via horseback is out-of-town. So.. I’m so proud of how the incredible ladies with me accept this news. They simply put their shoulder to the plow and say “ok, we’ll walk.” The current is out, so we have no electricity and therefore no AC. We are barely able to con the store owner into selling us a little bit of cold beverage with the little bit of cash we have.. There is a major thunderstorm brewing.. “You’re rich in love and You’re slow to anger, Your name is great and Your heart is kind, For all Your goodness I will keep on singing, Ten thousand reason for my heart to find..” Talk to the Mormon lady next door and she learns of our plight-that we flat don’t have enough food for supper, breakfast and the hike out. She shares generously. Another lady downstairs comes up and wonders if we would eat fruit, she’s hiking out the next day and they are gonna get tossed if we don’t want them..
Again the alarm goes off at 3:30. I slip into the darkness to make sure the other rooms are up. The only sound is a dog barking somewhere and a generator running.. We divide out our food, load up with water, and rejoice to find a care pack at our doorstep.. Jerky, granola bars, a headlamp (for Juanita who doesn’t have one) some cash.. I can now empathize with Elijah in the desert. I don’t know if the ravens delivered it, or if it came from the lady next door, or some other angel.. But there’s no doubt in my mind. It’s a Godsend.
Mile 15: Our party is joined by two other groups, totaling 15 of us in all. Our flashlights shining into the darkness, a dog from the lodge as our escort.. We move along at a great clip. Hardly stopping.
Mile 17: It’s fully light by now. The one party is a ways behind, the other passed us by like we were backing up..
Mile 19: Our group is split up a little, several of the power women among us blaze on ahead. We sing a little to divert ourselves from the task at hand. One, two, three, four.. I count steps in my head..
Mile 21: I can’t carry this food any longer. We stop, and with a “come and dine” we make short work of our rations..
Mile 23: The last leg of the journey is the hardest part. Steep and rocky. I.am.tired. But I’m thankful and so proud of my girls. The sun is just shining on the canyon walls behind us. It is a beautiful morning again. We take it slowly. One step at a time.. “And on that day, when my strength is failing, The end draws near and my time has come, Still my soul will sing Your praise unending, Ten Thousand years and then forever more..”
Mile 24: HILLTOP!!! Nine girls loaded back into Coppertone.. “Bless the Lord, Oh my soul, Oh my soul, Worship His holy name. Sing like never before, O my soul.. I’ll worship Your holy name.. Lord, I will worship Your holy name..” Hallelujah.. 🙂
And so tonight, as we gather around the ibuprofen bottle in a town outside of San Diego, CA. We are weary, but it’s a great weary. Please continue to hold our travels in your prayers. I sure felt them yesterday and today..
See you on down the trail.. Good night, Kendra
We traveled out Route 66 again.. I meant to mention the frustrating Burma Shave signs.. They were all missing part of the poem.. “Violets are blue, Roses are pink..” Then what? Today, West bound was better.. and appropriate for the train country we are in.. “Train approaching; Whistle Squealing; Pause, avoid that; Rundown feeling..” 🙂
And my unique photo of the day..