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WE BEGAN OUR ADVENTUROUS TREK around 3 in the afternoon, after driving for nearly an hour over rocky, washboard, Kaibab Forest service roads to reach the remote desert trailhead. We were going in off of the North Rim, which was a bit higher in elevation than the South Rim, and thus more challenging as well.

The descent off of the North Rim was steep and treacherous. At times the dusty trail narrowed to a footpath barely two feet wide. To my right, rocky outcroppings grabbed at my bulky backpack, forcing me to concentrate on my balance and footing. To my left, the trail dropped precipitously into dark shadowy ravines, strewn with loose talus rock and short craggy brush. One false step on my part and the weight of my pack would surely carry me headlong into the deep, yawning abyss…

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We proceeded slowly, at a measured pace, stopping frequently to take in our surroundings. At times the trail demanded of us that we descend hand-over-fist, clinging to the side of the butte outcropping as we tried to find footholds to aide our perilous descent. This was our very first ever backpacking experience, and my companions and I fancied ourselves intrepid explorers in a hostile, alien landscape. We planned for weeks for this adventure, reading various guidebooks and trip planners, and believed that we were well-equipped for whatever we might encounter in the arid back country of the Grand Canyon. Little did we realize at this point how ill-equipped we actually were (read more…)