Every story has a beginning and this is the beginning.
About a month ago, my wife Carolyn is looking up at a full moon (the one in the sky) and says to me, “What do you think about hiking down the Canyon to Phantom Ranch during the next full moon in September?” “It should be really light out.” I’m immediately all in. I’m thinking a trip with my wife into the canyon by ourselves, wow this is just going to be awesome. So for some background, Carolyn has hiked the Canyon from rim to rim and rim to rim to rim and of course down and back like many times and I have actually joined her and others for three different trips. But this would be our first time doing the trip by ourselves so I was pumped! After living apart while working at Alchesay for two years and only to return and have Carolyn start training for Ironman, I am so excited to be able to spend some long needed time with her. So Yes I’m going to head down and up no matter if my hip hurts, my back hurts, and whatever else may be hurting since it is alleged to be a Tim and Carolyn trip. My first trip into the canyon alone with my wife! I am thrilled.
So we make plans for Friday, September 5, and Carolyn gets us a room for the Saturday night following our hike since the plan is to hike down, rest momentarily and hike out in the early morning. Anybody who knows me, knows that I am thinking that I have plenty of time and there is no rush to prepare.
Over the next couple of weeks, Carolyn finds our day packs, water bladders, hiking poles, gets her clothes all packed up, finds and rations food for the trip and somehow gets us breakfast reservations at Phantom Ranch for 5:00 a.m. Saturday morning.
Friday arrives and Carolyn goes to work for a half day and I go yard selling with my neighbor Andy, and of course we head to Starbucks to for coffee and story telling. Just another Friday for me.
Carolyn gets home and she is ready to roll. She looks at me and states, “you mean you haven’t packed yet?” Typical Tim now has to throw a bunch of stuff together and 30 minutes later I think I’m ready. If you know anything about Adult ADD, well let’s just say, my name is in there somewhere. After packing the car, I only have to go back in the house twice to get things that I have somehow forgot to pack but with that said we leave and of course Carolyn is totally exasperated with me.
As we are driving to Flagstaff, I ask Carolyn if she packed our hiking poles since I didn’t. Oops, they are still in Payson. Thank goodness that Carolyn suggest that she go to Big 5. Somehow she negotiates some $45 poles down to $18 so we now have poles for our trek. Not sure how she pulled that one off but she must have put the charm on the cashier. Sticking with the five theme we carbo load at Five Guys. And yes Tim aka ADD Tim further delays things by having to stop for coffee, donuts, paper, just by being me.
We arrive at the Canyon around 9:30 and we have to disagree on where we are going to park since we are going down the longer Bright Angel Trail. After driving in circles we settle on a mutual agreed upon spot. Being a man of traditional values, (some would call me conservative) I immediately head to the Bright Angel Lodge bar to order a Starry Night Stout from the Grand Canyon Brewery. Yes, I have done this on my previous trips and believe that this is meant to be. I quickly discover that they don’t carry my favorite Grand Canyon beverage anymore due to a distribution problem. Instead of ordering a Grand Canyon alternative I order a New Belgium pale ale which probably was not the right thing to do considering that I am a traditionalist. I’m not superstitious but this could have been a bad omen. (more to that story in Part II)
I believe that since we are going down the Bright Angel Trail (approximately 10 miles) to Phantom Ranch, if we leave by midnight we should get there for the 5:00 breakfast. Boy was I wrong. I was outvoted on a 1 to 1 vote and Carolyn and I take off around 10:30. Anxious? Yes. Excited? Yes. Ready to depart on the journey into the grandest canyon? Yes. Will it rain? Please no!
We have made it to the starting line. Nobody around to take our photo.
BTW, where is the moon? A kiss for luck and we are on our way! Stay tuned for part two.