Go West Old Men: A Travel Memoir. Part 12

Mather Campground, South Rim, The Grand Canyon

This is Part 11 of the story, follow these links to see Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11

But it’s a dry rain.

We woke up the next morning to the sound of rain on the tent. But…this was Arizona. It was supposed to be warm and dry, right?
Not so much.

Rainy days and, whatever the day it was, didn’t get us down.

Because of the delayed arrival, this would be our only full day at the South Rim. Since it was raining, we spent a leisurely morning at the campsite having breakfast.

And that was okay.

From the outset, we determined that we would be flexible with our plans. The main thing was to enjoy the journey. Would we rather it hadn’t rained? Of course. But we made the best of it.

Scott had a special method of making drip coffee. It was a bit of a production in the mornings. But it was always worth it.

We sat, we read, we talked. We drank more coffee.

That may have been the first morning we had a freeze-dried breakfast.

Scott had found, and sampled, various versions of freeze dried meals from Mountain House. As it turns out they weren’t that bad. Those packages, along with a few cans purchased at Walmart in Albuquerque, became the staples for our meals, along with trail mix and Clif Bars.

[If Mountain House and/or Clif Bars happen to be reading this, sure, I’ll take a sponsorship.]

But I have to admit I haven’t had a Clif Bar since we got back.

The rain eventually dried up and we made plans for the day.

We headed in the opposite direction on the orange trail and made it to Yaki Point. Scott decided he wanted to hike down into the canyon.

By that point, I knew that my hiking was limited.

We split up at the Kaibab Trail Head where Scott headed down into the canyon, and I took the bus back to the Village and later to the Lodge.

Scott has never met a stranger. Here he is on Kaibab Trail with a group of hikers from China.

Scott went about a mile down the trail in search of the “Ooh and Ahh” point. I wanted to, but knew it was beyond my current abilities. When he returned Scott confirmed that.

But, he’s never really met a stranger so he had some interesting conversations along the way, including meeting a group of young men from China who were hiking through.

Periodically, while his cell service and battery lasted, I’d get updates.

I headed back to the village, and to the lodge. But first I walked around a bit.

And then I found it. The elusive gift shop that I’d remembered from forty-three years earlier. It was right at the top of the Bright Angel Trail. Having decided I wouldn’t head down the trail, I’d not considered the location.

It wasn’t that I was looking for anything in particular, and certainly not that I expected the inventory to be the same.
It was just a memory that I wanted to refresh.

In college, after falling in love with the Chronicles of Narnia, I’d begun my own collection of lions that reminded me of Aslan. There in 1980 was a beautiful carved lion. I wanted it. But I didn’t buy it. For once on a trip where I’d stocked up on turquoise and Native American crafts, I decided to be frugal.

I didn’t expect to be there, although there were other items carved from the same onyx type material.

What I also didn’t find was the “Go Hike the Canyon” t-shirt. The one I purchased in 1980 had been ruined when our apartment storage unit flooded in the late 80s. I thought surely, that design would be popular enough to still be available.

I was wrong, Shirley.

I new Scott would still be a couple of hours, so I found the lounge in the Grand Canyon Lodge.

I ordered some chips and salsa, along with Sangria, and settled in to do some writing and reflecting.

I reflected enough to get a second glass of Sangria, but I stopped there.

At the table next to me was a group of friends celebrating their completion of the Rim to Rim hike. Good for them. I was a little jealous, but also practical.

At one point in my life, perhaps while standing there contemplating the purchase of a lion or a t-shirt, I planned to come back and do that hike. We’ve already talked about it. It didn’t happen.

But this trip did and every moment of it was worth it.

Scott made it back and we headed back to camp for dinner. Something freeze-dried, I’m sure.

Sunset at Mohave Point

That evening, we took the red line out to Mohave Point to catch the sunset. Another gorgeous view over the canyon. We stayed for hours, literally. It was totally dark by the time we got back to the bus stop.

Our full day at the South Rim had come to an end.

In the morning, we would pack up camp and head to the North Rim.

HEAD’S UP: I won’t be posting for the next two Fridays.  Holy Week begins on Sunday with Palm Sunday, so next Friday is Good Friday.  The following week, we’ll be on the Outer Banks for Spring Break.  Look for the next installment on April 12.  Thanks for reading.

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