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 I could not comprehend what had happened to my hiking companions. I left my pack and backtracked up the ravine to where I had last seen them. They were nowhere in sight. They had apparently vanished into a dimensional portal, leaving me behind to fend for myself in the vast, barren expanse of the Esplanande. I was a bit worried, to put in mildly. We had agreed to share the weight of the tent and other common items, so all that I had with me was the rain fly to our tent, which I strung up in some trees. It was starting to look like my first ever night in the Grand Canyon would be spent alone, without adequate shelter.

I sat quietly in meditative repose pondering my predicament, as darkness continued it’s slow, inexorable encroachment of my makeshift camp. How could this have happened? It’s unbelievable! I have lost my friends in the Grand Canyon! What should I do now? How should I proceed? The seriousness of the situation began to dawn on me. As I saw it that night, I had three options available to me: I could stay where I was and hope that my friends would catch up to me; I could continue onward on my current vector; I could backtrack from whence I came. For the moment, though, all I could do was bed down for the night…


I was afraid to eat any dinner that night for fear of attracting any unwanted guests. In the morning, after a fitful night’s sleep, I had a potentially life-threatening decision to make — what course of action should I pursue? Should I sit tight and wait for my companions to catch up with me? Should I forge ahead on my current course? Or should I backtrack? It didn’t make any sense to me at the time to just sit and wait — I could be waiting forever, so I ruled out this choice forthwith. I had to keep moving, but the only question now was, in what direction? Which course of action held the greatest probability for reuniting with my friends?

After careful consideration, I made the decision to backtrack. It didn’t seem likely that my friends had gotten ahead of me, so backtracking seemed the most logical course. After a breakfast of hot tea, granola bars, and oatmeal cereal, I did the dishes, packed up my stuff, hoisted my bulky pack and headed off again across the arid back country. I was a little worried, to say the least, but not panic-stricken by any means. If bad came to worse I decided that I could always try to find my way back to the Rim and the car (continue…)