Search and Find
ONE YEAR BEFORE
OUR INITIAL GOAL is to hike down into the Grand Canyon and stay at the Phantom Ranch at the bottom. Sad to think we need to identify ‘goals’ for a vacation. I guess that is what it means to be an adult.
I will be travelling with my niece Libby. Libby is 15 years younger than myself. I am 47 yrs old and I travel with Libby so she can carry me out of the canyon. She is my oldest niece and with the small difference in age we have always been close. The last few years we have been training for half marathons together, and vacation together every year in Sedona.
First bit of advice- pick your travelling partner well. You should have common goals, common interests, and common body clocks! Now that I think about it- I think that should be the same goals for a life partner! My fuck up
Rarely do I know what I am doing tomorrow- never mind in a year from now. Do you??? Seriously, I don’t know what I am having for dinner tonight. ( my dinner tonight reference will become relevant- patience)
Why a year ahead? The Phantom Ranch is the only accomodations at the bottom of the canyon. Thus, it books quickly. There is camping at the bottom but- very important rule- Auntie doesn’t camp. EVER. ( okay- maybe once- in college….with alot of alcohol. . No- twice- when I got a divorce bug “need to experience life”. . Years later- I am over it….. for now)
Phantom Ranch reservations open on the 1st day of the month one year in advance. So I am calling Sept 1st 10AM to make a reservation for the following September 2012. Xanterra is the concession which runs the Phantom Ranch. They have a 1800 number which opens at 8AM MT for reservations. It is very important to get the time zone correct as it will book full for the month in 20 minutes. Note that the phone line remains ‘out of service” during after hours. You have to be flexible with dates in the month, and with accomodations. Frankly- you will be met with a busy signal for the first 50 tries. If you get through- take whatever dates they have available. This was my third year of trying to get reservations in September. The accommodations are primarily male or female bunk houses. There are a few large cottages for groups.
. . . 9:00AM- busy. 9:01AM busy. 9:02AM busy…….. 9:22AM- it rings. We were looking for 3 nights for 2 women. It took a little adjustment in dates but we got into the womens bunk house for three nights, Sept 16-19th, 2012. Bunk being the operative word. The bunk house accommodates 10 women with 5 bunkbeds. There is one bathroom with a shower. Each bed will have linens and a set of towel. Sounds ….basic. But if I survive the trip down- I’ll be happy.
So as the call continues, I learn you have to pick your seating for breakfast and dinner each night, and what you would like to eat! Thus – the dinner reference earlier. 12 months ahead- you have to pick your dinner time and your meal. Honestly- not as complicated as it may seem. Just- bizzarre. I can tell you I was not prepared for this. Breakfast has two sittings- fucking early, and not so early. The fucking early is for those hiking out that morning. All meals are family style. Breakfast consists of - eggs, potatoes, pancakes, etc., and is the same for both seatings. Dinner has two sittings also. The early seating is steak, baked potatoes, vegetable, salad, and chocolate cake. The late seating is a beef stew, salad, and chocolate cake. They do provide a vegetarian option. Us two girls were not interested- we do beef and potatoes. Lunch is not served but I was told you do have the options of a snackpack. I opted out of lunch as I figured we would pack snacks.
Though you are picking meals a year ahead- after quick discussion and your options become quite clear. The night you arrive- pick the late dinner as it probably will take longer than you think to get down into the canyon, and you will need to shower before dinner. Sleep in the first morning- so late breakfast. The morning you plan to climb out- early breakfast.
After a 30 minute conversation- all picked and reviewed- they took my CC and my vacation was paid for. Yes- payment in full is required. Though taken back by the pre- pay in full- it became a good thing to have payment behind me.
With the Phantom Ranch set in stone, (and paid for)- we planned the rest of the trip with that as the anchor. We would be travelling from the east coast therefore we planned on at least a week of adventures, and recovery. Have you seen the Grand Canyon! Recovery.
So we both started to research what else we could go to in the area.
March 2012- Six months before
FINALIZING THE DETAILS of a trip can always make for a challenge. Now in the depths of Winter it was time to start completing our vacation plans.
Libby is more the adventure type. Meaning- she camps. And she is also the young free spirit. She decided to take 3 wks to travel the west. Four National parks. She would travel for two wks before we met up for the last 8 days. So she was now in the logistics of campsites, etc.
Several years earlier the cover of Sedona Monthly had a picture of Havasu Falls. I had kept that issue with hope of finding my way there someday. I have always had an interest in waterfalls. And seeing the pictures in the magazine- they looked amazing. As with the Phantom Ranch I had tried to reserve several times before- but due to a horrific flood- the area had been closed for several season.
Havasu reservations open up six months ahead. I noted it on my calendar and called that day. We got in. Two nights at the ‘motel’ in Supai. Supai is the Indian village in the canyon part of the Havasu Indian Reservation. They did not take reservations online- you have to call in. They take a CC for the deposit. About a month later you receive a hand wrtten confirmation in the mail alone with a map and instructions. Do not loose those instructions. And remember the rest of your payment must be cash upon arrival. Your reservation will include the motel, and entrance fees for the reservation.
Okay- the vacation was forming. Libby would travel for 2 weeks. We would meet up in Peach Springs, AZ on a Tuesday. Wednesday we would hike down into Supai. Spend two nights. Hike out Friday, and drive to the Village of Grand Canyon. Saturday we would be casual tourists. Sunday we would hike down into the Canyon to the Phantom Ranch. Spend three nights. Hike out Wednesday. We would both fly out of Phoenix on Friday. Libby would handle finding accommodations for the remaining unreserved nights.
May 2012- Five months before
WHAT ARE WE DOING???Are we crazy? Frankly- Libby is crazy. (Love her dearly but come on) She now had all her campsite reservations. She would be renting an SUV- so if necessary she could sleep in it! WTF- this is what you call vacation. And she would be travelling alone. Libby has a masters degree in recreation. If nothing else – this degree gives me confidence that she knows how to handle herself in the wilderness.
We now started talking about supplies. We would divide up essentials. Remember- back packs. That’s right- backpacks. I need one! I had used Libbys’ before and loved it. It had a waist belt to allow for the weight of the pack to be distributed better with shoulder and waist straps. But- I wasn’t paying $200 for a pack I would use once. With the local LL Bean outlet store down the road- I was able to get a deal. $75. And GOOD hiking boots. That required a road trip to the main LL Bean store to receive advice on what I would need. In fact I was helped by an associate that had hiked the canyon. The boots were expensive but I figure I will own them a lifetime. Hopefully- mine. ( And lets get technical- I didn’t pay for them. I’m a spoiled girlfriend. I think he was just grateful I wasn’t asking him to take this adventure. So purchasing was a lot easier than hiking)
The last major investment was an emergency GPS locator, the Spot. Libby would be travelling alone most of the trip. Cel phone service would be nonexistant. We chose a device that had an emergency call beacon, and additionally allowed us to send 5 prerecorded messages such as “we are together. At the bottom of canyon. All good”, etc.
The rest of our supplies were the basics. Good hiking liners, and socks. Headlamp! To get down into the bottom of the canyon we will be starting at 5AM- in the dark. Bug spray. First Aid kit. Raincoat. Camera.
So- that just triggered a thought. Know the climate you are going to. Again – we would be travelling in Sept. I booked Sept as that is my off season, and I love the weather in September. September in New England that is…. Think about it- you get a hair across your ass and decide to climb, lets say Mt Washington. As you climb- what happens with the temperature- it gets colder! Back to the Grand Canyon. The same but different. You are climbing down into the canyon and it gets warmer. The top will be 60 deg. The bottom of the canyon is 90+ DEG in September. Never crossed my mind to check that thing called the internet for climate. The positive- dress light. The negative- pack lots of water!
Next- how do we get in shape for this adventure? Frankly- I did very little. During June, July August- I am consumed by my work. 70+ hrs a week. I did wear my hiking boots to work to break them in. Libby was more ….aggressive on that front. She hikes mountains, and parks all summer.
June 2012- three months ahead
SECURING ALL OUR RESERVATIONS seemed to become a...