Pain at the Grand Canyon

It was approaching seven in the morning and the tops of the canyon walls in Zion National Park were starting to light up with sunshine. The winds were gusting causing the tent walls to whip about. The camp stove was sitting on the picnic table, and after several unsuccessful tries at lighting it, Ashton recommends we break camp and stop for coffee and breakfast along the way. That sounded like a fantastic idea…. better than bringing the camp stove into the tent in hopes of blocking that wind.

north rim of the Grand Canyon

Another day, another scenic view!

We quickly broke camp and did a fantastic job battling the excessive winds. We were getting good at this tenting thing and working instinctively well together. We managed to control the thin nylon tent and keep it from taking flight like a kite. We then loaded up Charlotte (Honda CRV) in a neat and organized manner. We still didn’t have a firm plan in mind for the day, but we were living on RV time and rolling with the winds.

Echo Canyon Zion National ParkBefore driving off, we took one more look around the campsite making sure we hadn’t left anything behind. We glanced over at the neighboring campsites…. no movement. Appears our camp comrades were still sound asleep. Fortunately, we had bid farewell to our neighbors the night before over a campfire.

With a nostalgic wave to our new friends and the gorgeous Zion Canyon, we reluctantly drove down the road. The day before, the Mt. Carmel Highway on the east end of Zion National Park had closed due to a landslide which required us to come up with an alternate route.

Recalculating and turning our road trip into a big loop turned out perfectly. We experienced things that we totally would’ve missed out on had we stayed with the original route.

First and foremost on the agenda was breakfast. We ended up driving through the quaint town of Springdale, located just on the outskirts of Zion National Park. For some unknown reason, nothing caught our attention. About thirty minutes later with our tummies growling and cravings for coffee increasing, we pulled into the River Rock Roasting Company. And what a find this was!

River Rock Roasters

Great coffee, great food, great view – River Rock Roasters, La Verkin, Utah

Ashton and I enjoyed the coffee and breakfast bagels so much so, that she and I agreed we’d go out of our way to visit this place again. Was it the view or the fact we were hangry or was it our need for caffeine (coffee addiction satiated) or is this place that good? Didn’t matter to us. We were a couple of happy campers and ready to face the day after our plates and coffee cups were empty.

About an hour or so down the road, we saw a sign noting the mileage to the Grand Canyon. In our typical mother/daughter fashion, we glanced at each other and said, “Hey, we’re this close, might as well stop”.

north rim of the Grand Canyon

Me on the left, Ashton on the right – at the north rim of the Grand Canyon

Turns out the north rim of the Grand Canyon had just opened to tourists a few days earlier. Good timing for us. I’ve driven this stretch of 89A in northern Arizona a couple of times in years past, and Road 67 to the Grand Canyon was always closed. Therefore, a visit to the north rim would be a first for both of us.

Access to the north rim is limited to the summer months, or rather from about mid May until the first serious snow fall which can occur in September or October. The south rim stays open year-round.

We found plenty of parking at the visitor center. As I stepped out of the car, I felt pain … pain all over and immediately used someΒ colorfulΒ language. Not one of my finer moments considering I wasn’t setting a good example for my daughter. The car door was still north rimopen which allowed her to hear every inappropriate comment I uttered.

From inside the vehicle, I heard my daughter exclaim, “Mother. What is your problem?” Just then, she exited CharlotteΒ and in our typical mother/daughter fashion, she joined me in voicing colorful expletives…. “Holy sh*t! WTF! OMG!” Thank goodness the parking lot was relatively empty and there wasn’t anyone else within ear shot of us. With each step we took, another expletive escaped our mouths along with a few laughs. Gosh, we hurt!

That eleven mile, strenuous, 2,148 foot elevation gain hike the day before in Zion National Park had finally caught up with us. Ah, the cockiness we expressed just hours earlier had come back to haunt us. We were feeling just fine when we woke up that morning. Guess our muscles just needed a little extra time to process the abuse from the day before.

We slowly and gingerly worked through our pain and walked to the visitor center and picked up a park map. At this point, any sane person would’ve called it a day and returned to their car. Nope! Not us. Let’s do some more hiking!north rim

We were at the north rim of the Grand Canyon which required a little sightseeing and photo taking and the fact that we had trouble walking due to pain was merely an inconvenience. Did I mention how much we hurt?

north rim of the Grand Canyon

“I can take pictures of the Grand Canyon from here”, exclaimed Ashton

When an Adirondack chair presented itself, Ashton didn’t hesitate to take advantage of the situation.

After strolling out to a popular scenic overlook (Angel Point – I think) and a little more photo taking, we enjoyed lunch at the Grand Canyon Lodge cafe. This is when we came to the realization that the thought of setting up the tent later in the day would be a grueling endeavor. Something we didn’t look forward to. We even had doubts that we could physically handle it.

Recalculating! Exuberantly, I said to Ashton, “Dad is in Phoenix spending the weekend with your brother, which means the RV in Prescott is empty. How about we drive all the way to Prescott and sleep in a bed tonight? Let’s forget about the tent.” I barely finished talking when Ashton, rather loudly, exclaimed, “Sold!” Yeah, a few heads in the restaurant turned, but we didn’t care. Neither one of us thought we were capable of the movement necessary to pitch a tent, let alone sleep on the ground. Once we made it to the ground on our air mattresses, we doubted we could get back up. Did I already mention how much we hurt? 🀣

Lee's Ferry Historic Site

Ashton finds another spot to take a break – historic site at Lee’s Ferry

With our new plan mapped out and a renewed spring in our step, we headed off to our next location –Β Lee’s Ferry. Even though our original plan to camp here was nixed, I still wanted to stop for a quick visit. It had been nearly twenty years since I last drove by this area and I wanted a refresher.

Colorado River boat tour

Boats return from a tour up river thru Horseshoe Bend and near the base of Glen Canyon Damn

When the boats pulled in after their scenic tour up river, I had an aha moment. So this is where the boats come from as they motor up the Colorado River through Horseshoe Bend and to the bottom of the Glen Canyon Damn for sightseeing.

I remember peering over the cliff edge at the scenic Horseshoe Bend and wondering where the boats down below came from. How does one go about boating this stretch of the Colorado River? Lee’s Ferry is the answer.

Grand Canyon rafting

These are supply boats getting ready to head downstream through some serious whitewater rapids.

Lee’s Ferry is also the starting point for an incredible whitewater rafting trip through the Grand Canyon. Ashton and I watched these supply boats getting ready to head down stream. I explained to Ashton …. rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon is a memorable once in life-time kind of adventure. When one signs up for such a trip, all they need to bring are their personal items. Thus, crews are needed to haul all Lee's Ferry historic sitethe supplies, camping gear, and food as well as do all the set up and prepare the meals. These were the boats we were observing – the supply boats and crew.

I’ll admit, I was relieved when I didn’t hear the comment, “Let’s do that for our next adventure“. I’m sure our current state of fatigue accompanied by sore muscles came into play.

It was getting late in the day and as tempting as it was to grab a campsite and call it a day, the thought of pitching a tent had us moving on down the road.

Three and a half hours later, we pulled into the RV park in Prescott Valley and a real bed in my home. It had been a long day of travel, twelve hours to be exact, but we weren’t complaining. We had just completed the best mother/daughter trip to date; a trip filled with amazing scenery and even more amazing memories.

I’m not sure how we’ll ever top this adventure, but we can sure try!prickly pear


68 thoughts on “Pain at the Grand Canyon

  1. What a memorable trip with Ashton. My legs hurt just reading how much yours hurt. Slacked off on the walking here in IL with the high temps and humidity. Looking forward to getting back in the habit when the weather turns cooler.

    • Ashton and I had an awesome trip and made some very special memories. I know if I were in IL for the summer, I’d find it hard to stay motivated. Once you get back here, we’ll hit up the trails together!

  2. A “technical” hiking phrase I use to describe the sudden pain/stiffness is gargoyling:) and the decision to hike anyway I like to think of as “active recovery.” Sounds like good decision making all around though, particularly the part where you made a beeline for a bed.

    • Haha – yeah, falling into a bed was the best. I’m looking forward to a return to Utah for some more amazing hiking. Easy to say now that I’m all healed up πŸ˜ƒ

  3. Another fun story, Ingrid. I can relate to the pain. After a long and exhausted hike, if we had to sit in a car for a few more hours, the pain and fatigue always feel worse than if we would have kept moving.

  4. I feel your pain πŸ™‚ but for you it was worth it as those are wonderful memories with Ashton. Both of you are a great team!
    We have never been to the North Rim, and also wondered about Lees Ferry too. When we drove back to Tucson, and saw the sign to the North Rim a seed was planted in our brains, then your great photos of it just confirmed that we have to visit the area.
    We visited the River Rock Roasting Co a few times while we were there, and in fact we followed a trail down below.

    • The North Rim has a totally different feel and vibe than the South Rim. I would definitely encourage you to visit. I think you’d enjoy the views and smaller crowds. I’d love to spend some time at Lee’s Ferry (when the weather cools, of course) and maybe take a scenic boat ride up to the damn.
      Ashton and I had such a wonderful trip – we can’t wait for our next adventure. Unfortunately, her work schedule is something we need to work around.

    • Thanks Cindy. I love water, and hope to take the RV up to Lee’s Ferry to camp near the CO River. ME sitting in the window??? Awe, thanks but that’s my daughter. Twins? … I knew I liked you πŸ˜†

  5. I feel the need for a hot tub after reading this story! But the beauty and memories you shared are certainly worth it.

    • These mother/daughter trips are so special. Now that she’s in her later twenties, we connect on a level like never before. Plan that trip!

  6. That car ride gave your muscles a chance to rest..and then you stopped and got out..youch! I’m pretty sure I could never had made that climb at this time of life…Kudos to you for doing it…and how fun to do it with your beautiful daughter (who didn’t fall very far from the “Ingrid” tree, by the way!)

    • I love it when folks ask if we’re sister’s. I’m a tad bit younger than you, so give me a few more years and I doubt I’ll be able to do that hike. It was pretty challenging. Next time, I think I’ll focus on the flat trail along the river πŸ˜†

    • Yeah, we were hurting pretty bad, but a few days later we were as good as new …. well, I still have a toenail issue, but time will remedy that as well.

  7. Ingrid, I am imagining both you & your daughter stepping out of Charlotte, your muscles screaming from the work you imposed on them the day before! Although it was a bit of drive back to that bed, I am sure your bodies welcomed the comfort of home!

    • Oh yes, that bed was very welcoming and the next day we were even more sore if you can believe it. Fortunately we found a great deal of humor in the situation. Now that we’re all healed, we’re contemplating our next adventure πŸ˜‰

  8. What an incredible adventure!! I’m sure the muscles are sore but oh so worth it. You guys will remember this time spent together the rest of your lives!!! πŸ˜€

    • There are times when we review our photos, we still can’t believe we made it to the top. Definitely strenuous and challenging, but so worth it!

  9. I can feel your pain when there’s been several long, tough, climbing hikes. Smart idea to head home for a soft bed with lots of wonderful memories:) We really enjoyed the North Rim more than the South Rim. Maybe because of the smaller crowds and greener view. Sure looked like a great trip.

    • Throughout that hike, you came to mind and the lengthy hikes you two do. And although I enjoyed the experience and am very proud of our accomplishment, I’m more of a less than four hour hiker πŸ˜„ The north rim has a very different vibe than the south rim that, like you, I loved and preferred.

  10. Always great to be back in your own bed. BTW, our foothills home of 29 years goes on the market tomorrow and I’d be surprised if we’re not under contract by the weekend. We purchased a 32′ Imagine trailer in early May and since the market is so hot here and we don’t have another home yet, we may try hitting the road for awhile. Planning on only part year travel, but who knows when we’ll be ready to buy another house here! Looking forward to some adventures

    • Well, we initially were planning on part-time travel too and what was suppose to be a year, two at the most, as turned into four, entering year five of full-time RV living. Careful … the RV life can be addictive. Oh sure, there are times I miss a ‘home base’, but the thought of committing to a sticks n bricks isn’t on my radar at the moment. Keep me posted on your travels. We’ll be in Phoenix Oct, Nov, Dec and Texas Jan, Feb, Mar. After that, we’re not sure πŸ™‚

      • We vacillate between wanting to travel and wanting to be in our home art studio and woodshop. And near our precious 1 1/2 yr old grandson here. We put 39k miles on our new truck in 2 years w/o the trailer! I guess we’ll see which wins out once we get going. A couple showings this weekend but no takers yet. Our price range has slowed a bit. Thnx for your itinerary. We may try out Tucson early Spring for a month or so. We love that place. And the coast of Texas sounds inviting. I always loved going to Galveston when we lived in Houston. We may head over that way as we go to GA to camp near our daughter there and visit friends in Hilton Head. Will keep you posted.

        • We do miss the extra space and continue to look for a home base. Our children play a huge role in location which is why it was a no brainer for us to sell our place in Colorado. With a little grandson, I know you’ll want to be somewhere near. After traveling around for a few months, we’re always ready to return to Phoenix for that kid fix. We love our time in Texas and this season have even extended it to 3 months, but then I know we’ll high tail back to AZ πŸ˜„

  11. Remaining flexible and changing plans on the fly is not a vertue everyone can claim, it certainly can make life more enjoyable, got to try River Rock Roasters, great post!

    • Flexibility is key when it comes to traveling regularly, and you’re so right, not everyone can handle it. I loved the fact my daughter embraced our ever changing direction. If I’m ever near LaVerkin UT again, I will definitely be visiting River Rock Roasters.

  12. Splendid photos, and a great description, Ingrid. Sorry about your sore feet/legs, but I trust that has gone by now. And from what I read, you considered it a little price tpo pay for such an outing.
    Have a wonderful day,

    • Thanks Pit and yes, the soreness has gone away and it was totally worth the pain. Hope you’re staying cool in the TX hill country.

    • Yep, I am doing mucho better, thank you. With the extreme heat here in AZ, there hasn’t been much hiking on my schedule. So this old bod has had plenty of time to recover and gear up for the next adventure πŸ˜‰

    • Well, we didn’t exactly ‘hike’ the Grand Canyon as much as we strolled the rim and out to scenic overlooks. However, even that was challenging with our soar bodies. Thanks for following along.

  13. Ouch!!! Oh the pain – but then the beauty! It just makes it worth it. Fabulous pictures. I thought you might have opted for a hotel with a hot tub. That’s a great cure all for sore muscles. Hopefully a good nights sleep in a soft bed did the trick. πŸ˜„

      • We sleep great after our excursions, too! Such great memories. We took our daughter and son-in-law hiking in the Smokies. We’ve challenged them to do it again in 30 years-our age, and keep up with our pace! Lol

        • My daughter is thirty years my junior and it made me feel great that she didn’t hold up any better than me, or rather I held up as well as she did πŸ˜ƒ

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