Tuesday. May 15 2018.
I warned ya’ll that today would be a long day, and that it was. I woke up at 6am, and even without cooking breakfast, I did not start hiking until 6:55. I am not sure why it always, always takes me at least an hour just to pack up camp, but it’s just become a fact of these trips. Maybe one day I won’t be so slow moving in the morning. The day started with 4.4mi down the West Rim, passing Angel’s Landing and all the people. I then took the shuttle to the next stop, after filling up on water and enjoying the ease of a flushable toilet of course. So at 10am, I finally started on the East Rim hike.
That is when the day goes south. So much like Yosemite, any hike is going to start with an excessive elevation gain to get out of the canyon, and that it did for several miles. Then the lucky day hikers split off to Observation Point (I have seen the pictures, they were rewarded) where as I headed to the East Entrance. From there for a couple of miles, the trail was over rocky surfaces and only marked by cairns. Okay, fine, not the first time I have relied on a stack of rocks
to guide me.
Cue my amazement that the trail could possible mean to lead me down an approximate 20ft drop off, with few foot/hand holds, and sand when there were some. I double checked, and sure enough it was the only cairn around. So I slowly lowered myself down/slid, and made it. A couple hundred yards later comes Echo Slot Canyon, which did not look like the pictures I had seen. It was murky gross water that was infested with ants, flies, and tadpoles. I made it past the first small section by shuffling with my legs on one side and hands across it on the other side, like a bridge. Only then to discover that technique would be impossible from there on. The water was at least knee deep in the next small pond, wider across, and somehow it had even more insects and such swimming around.
So, f**k that, I turned back around and was half tempted to head back to the canyon, but of course I was not making it back up that large sketchy drop off, not with my awkward 25-30# pack. I know you are supposed to stay on the trails, but I grew up in the woods, so my only other option was to make my own path above the slot canyon. Which was 1000x’s easier and less disgusting, and I soon found more cairns. I then followed those to where the dirt path started up, and continued uphill for Lord knows how many miles more. It was hot and I was disgusting, and I pushed through for another 7mi or so. I was deadset on getting to my car that morning, and the day’s struggles solidified that. It was no longer just a desire, but a complete need to feel the security of my car. To make it worse, I saw a snake when I got to the top of the rim, and saw the paths of 2 more in the sand, & heard from a passerby about another. F that too, I was not camping near snakes.
So I got to my car at almost 5, basically cried tears of joy, text my family, and paid $5 for a shower at a campground. Now I am parked at a place that you can supposedly park and sleep for free, per the gas station lady.
Oh, and I am losing 2 toenails.
Although the concept of walking completely across a National Park sounds ideal, and it was ultimately a few good days, I would not hike the East Rim portion again. It was not worth the struggle for the view. Although it was beautiful, the West Rim offered more scenic views, without the struggles. If there were a clear way to bypass Echo Slot Canyon and the drop-off near it, I would have enjoyed the hike much more.