And he said some day I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying
Like tommorrow was a gift
And you’ve got eternity to think about
What you’d do with it
What did you do with it
What did I do with it
What would I do with it
I went sky divin
I went rocky mountain climbing
I went two point seven seconds
On a bull named Fu Man Chu
And I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter
And I watched an eagle as it was flying
And he said one day I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying
Labor Day Weekend is our weekend to journey back into the depths of the Grand Canyon for another epic trip. Just a year ago, Carolyn and I journeyed to the Canyon on an overnight hike and breakfast trip to Phantom Ranch. This year, Jordyn has decided to join us on our adventure. As most of you probably know, Carolyn is the planner and she has everything laid out for our trip, from eats, to clothes, to hiking poles, and reservations for breakfast at Phantom Ranch. Me, not so much. I’m an on the edge type who waits to the last minute to pack and prepare so it adds to the anxiety of the trip.
We head out and of course, I have forgotten several things that I remember and we only have to return to our house twice before we actually get out on the road. The good news is we aren’t out of town when I recall what I have forgotten but I take a few hits from Jordyn and Carolyn on my ADD status of not being prepared. I attempt to convince them that it is a disability that not only leaves them frustrated but I’m frustrated that it sometimes overwhelms me, but that is for another day.
As we head towards Flagstaff, the frustration with me becomes more apparent as we get stuck behind a slow-moving RV. For miles we travel at the high rate of about 40 mph and the conversation goes something like, “Dad or Tim, (depending on who is talking) if only you had been ready to go, blah, blah, blah, we wouldn’t have got stuck behind this RV.” My continuing response is “oh well, we’ll be ok, or who knows maybe it is simply fate and that might be good.”
We arrive in Flagstaff and head to Smashburger. I like this place and this time they have added a Sin City Burger that is fantastic. You know, bacon, onion rings, cheese, special sauce, good stuff. We order to go since we are in a “hurry”. (But we change our mind–Jordyn and Carolyn this is since I have convinced them we have plenty of time) Add some fries and a large dark roasted Dunkin Donuts coffee with coconut and it is a fantastic meal.
It has rained off on and out during our trip and it breaks loose while eating. I mean it really rains. Temperature drops into the 50’s and it is cold and it is pouring. This leads to gloomy talk as we hit the road again. It rains most of the way to the Canyon and we arrive around 10:00 and the skies have cleared. It is an incredible sky, clear and starry. Despite my ADD moments in Payson, we have arrived safely and in plenty of time. Due to our arrival time, we actually find a place to park right next to the trailhead. So my ADD has quite possibly come in handy and we could not have found a better place to park. It is the time to check conditions and begin our preparation for a trip that surely we won’t ever forget.
The plan has now moved us to heading down the Bright Angel trail around 11:45. There is only one thing left to do, and that is to go and grab a Grand Canyon brew from Bright Angel Lodge. Last year I broke the tradition and had a Deschutes and it didn’t go so well on the way down so I don’t want to mess with what has worked before and since Jordyn has turned 21, she agrees to join me. Carolyn, not going to happen but she does come and sit with us. They don’t have Starry Night Stout on tap so we split an American Pilsner. Bartender was not very good and not very friendly but oh well we can overcome attitude and tonight some altitude.
Last minute checkups and photo ops that go awry and we get on the trail around 11:50. Yes, our one camera breaks while taking photos at the top.
It is stunning to start down the Canyon with only our headlamps on and our camelback type of backpacks loaded with water and Carolyn’s carefully prepared munchies. It is quiet and the feeling of being all alone in this massive place is indescribable. This is some kind of wonderful. We always manage to find some scorpions and tonight does not disappoint except they are only the small ones. The clouds start to roll in and the wind begins to roar as we head down. We roll into Indian Gardens and finally see a human laying on a bench sound asleep. We rest up and continue down. The wind continues to blow dust, clouds block out the stars, we do not cross a single person on the trail. I’m feeling good (Must be the Grand Canyon beer tradition) and as we head down the corkscrew area, Jordyn is in the lead. Her headlamp catches a snake as we round a corner. I’m no fan of snakes but it is drawn towards our lights. Long and skinny and we avoid it at all costs including Jordyn doing some impromptu rock climbing. This is actually the first snake I have encountered on our trips and the first time I have never encountered any animals. I’m guessing it was the wind but it very unusual.
We finally get to the Colorado River crossing and the sky is completely dark. It is an eerie feeling crossing the river at night on the metal bridge with the water roaring and not being able to see much. We bypass the campground area and arrive at Phantom Ranch lodge around 3:30. We now have an hour and a half before breakfast so nap time is the right time for me. Arriving safe and sound is always a blessing since night hiking is a bit tricky trying to avoid loose rocks and injuring an ankle. That is the danger but we manage to make it without incident.
As I lay my head down for some shut eye, I’m thinking that I’m glad to be living like I’m dying. The Tim McGraw song reminds me that life is short and I do what I do because I want to live life like I’m dying. Just the chance to enjoy this trip with Jordyn and Carolyn speaks to my heart. Life is good and I’m enjoying the things in life before life is no longer.
Sweet dreams of breakfast enter my head as sleep comes in the Canyon. Living the dream continues.