Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend & the Grand Canyon

After three [long] days in Las Vegas, the itinerary of our summer vacation took us near Navajo nation and North Rim, Arizona. Although I did not see the reservation itself, I did get to experience a tour of Lower Antelope Canyon, a spontaneous visit to Horseshoe Bend and an interesting day at the north rim of the Grand Canyon.

A Crack in the Earth

I'll admit, I was a bit nervous about hiking down into Antelope Canyon. I am not in the best of shape, I am clumsy and sometimes I just have a bad attitude. Yet as we began walking near the entrance, I met a wonderful family from the Netherlands, two quiet friends from Vietnam and was silently reassured by my boyfriend Jake, who was suffering from an annoying cold that he blamed on casino cigarette smoke. I found it incredible that the other members of our tour group were not from America. Even our guide seemed surprised when we mentioned we were from the States. It made me realize how much we desire to study abroad and how little we take the time to explore our home.

As we began our descent, I was in awe of the swaying colors of sandstone and how the sun crept to the bottom of the canyon. Once I reached the ground (and stopped worrying about the steep stairs) I wanted to absorb it all. I wanted to feel the texture of the stone, the power of water erosion and the story of the people who had settled on this land long ago. I wanted to listen and laugh and enjoy everything that was happening around me. If you ever decide to visit, I recommend taking a camera, doing some research and taking your time to just see.

I Thought I'd Rather Not, But I Did

After a good experience trekking around the canyon, we traveled a few miles down the road to stop off to see Horseshoe Bend. When Jake and I first saw how far down (and back up) it would be to take in the view, we thought we would just stay put. But, everyone else wanted to check it out, so we went. It was a pretty good choice. Just Google some pictures.

Snow at the North Rim

So, the Grand Canyon. Super cool. Super grand. We chose to visit the North Rim because 1.) fewer tourists and 2.) closer drive. I didn't really have an opinion on the matter; I was just ready to say I'd been. Well, we definitely went to the Grand Canyon. 

The first trail we took was the perfect way to start. Relatively steep on the way back, but enjoyable and featured great viewpoints. I was a little weary about the height situation and some of the narrow paths, but all in all, it was a fun trail. However, the next hike we went on, was a hike. I knew that the climb back up the switchbacks would be hard, but I had no idea what Jake and I would be conquering. 

We only went a little over a mile into the canyon, taking continuous switchbacks and avoiding piles of mule poop and urine. Fun, right? Despite the occasional stench, I was fascinated by the colors that blended throughout the canyon; vivid reds, rusty oranges, muted greens and inseparable browns. I had fun messing with my Nikon camera settings while having pointless conversations with Jake. And then, we finally decided to make the grand climb back to our starting point.

I began the trek to the top with determination, but that wore off quickly. My calves hurt, lungs were screaming and armpits were sweaty within maybe 30 steps. Going up switchbacks is a lot more difficult than coming down them. The words up, incline, steep and hiking all have new meaning for me now. On our way back, we encouraged each other, so it was nice and great to say we made it at the end. But before we finally made it, it felt like we never would. We were passed by two sets of mules, a pair of runners and we got hailed on. Yup, hail. From the sky. And then rain. And then after we made it back to the car, there was snow. Somehow we prevailed and can now say we have indeed hiked in the Grand Canyon.

Do you enjoy hiking? Leave a list of your favorite National Parks in the comments below. Bucket lists are also welcome and encouraged!


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