A Grand Thanksgiving

Since 2001 I’ve spent all but two Thanksgiving holidays (or at least the weekend starting Friday) outside.

Be it backpacking under the stars or car camping in a remote area; I prefer to spend my Thanksgiving holiday time somewhere outdoors.

This year was no exception.

An early Tuesday Thanksgiving was celebrated with friends old and new in Boulder. After a leisurely breakfast and coffee with friends on Wednesday morning, I made the haul down to the Grand Canyon. An eleven-hour drive is not how I would choose to kick off my road trip (!), but my friends are on a tighter schedule than myself.  And I had the turkey. 🙂  More importantly, I wanted to spend the holiday with them.  My friends are my extended family at this point. And what better way to spend the holiday than with them outdoors as I have typically done in the past?

They also mailed out all my packages to me on my Utah trip!

In addition to the Zapin family, I would be fortunate enough to join other families I’ve known for many years as well.

Arriving around 8 PM, I quickly settled in and enjoyed a cold beverage with the adults and greeted the children.  At this point in my life, I’ve settled into my role as the idiosyncratic uncle. Be it for the Rhode Island clan or the adopted Colorado family. 🙂

The following morning, we all walked along the Rim Trail. A mellow trail with fantastic views. And a great way to see into the Big Ditch.

Rob and Keenan

We walked along and enjoyed the sites on this warm November day on the rim. A bit different than I was last there in March!

The boys were intrigued by my photography with a camera instead of a phone. And the boys even took some photos with a real camera. One short, bald, seldom-photographed person also had his picture taken!

With Josh

‘We headed back to our camp after a stroll along the rim.  Turkey was reheated over the coals.

And people busily prepared the feast on our collection of two burner stoves.

The feast was savored in the chilly Arizona night.

The following morning we departed ways. My friends left to make their way back to Colorado.

Me? I wanted to get in a quick backpacking trip while I was at this iconic place.

I’d hike down to the Hermit Rapids and enjoy the relative isolation of this place on the otherwise busy South Rim. And have plenty of time to do the 10-mile hike.

Though the site was available, the backcountry office was skeptical of my noon start. I had to convince them that I am a reasonably experienced backpacker. And that the rough nature of the trail would not be a problem. Nor the mileage. The skeptical backcountry ranger finally issued the permit: Once I wrote down my backpacking experience! For the first time in perhaps a decade, I wrote down my alphabet soup hiking resume. Guess those lettered routes do convince people of something…

And I spotted this line on my permit. Ha!

Suitably warned about the dangers of my route, I ambled down the trail.

By 4 PM or so, I was at the rapids.  The roar of the Colorado River dominated the area.  The force of the rapids was mesmerizing. So much wilder than the South Rim above. And I had it all to myself.

The following morning I woke up to the sunlight starting to light up the canyon. I lingered over some coffee and continued to enjoy the solitude at the rapids and in the immediate area.

The way up was invigorating rather than difficult. Having no food, a half liter of water, and my minimalist gear made for some quick travel up to the rim.

Not far below the rim, I saw two sentries gazing upon their canyon domain below.

I soon reached the trailhead. A cold drink, some leftover turkey, and some oranges made for welcome lunch.

Time to leave the canyon behind and go to the next phase of my travel.

All the photos…

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6 years ago

Hermits! That was the first ‘real’ rapid my friends let me row. I remember seeing backpackers there and wondering how they got there. Now I know!