The morning of day 7 brought change. 11 people from our group had only signed up for the upper canyon trip and would be leaving us. They had packed their personal gear into their backpacks the night before and would be departing as soon as they could in the morning so that they get an early start on the trail. They would hike out the Bright Angel trail back to the rim at the Grand Canyon South Rim Village.
It felt really weird to watch this group pack up and board the rafts….and sad to see them go. Though we did get a few nice ‘souvenirs’ (a camp pillow, sunscreen, shampoo) that people passed on so as to lighten their load for the hike out.
We had to say goodbye to ‘the girls’ (Dawn, Ashley and Susan) as well as Pricilla and her daughter, Elana.
All of the paddle rafters were leaving, too – Jeff and Sue, Dave and Jacque, Peter and Deanna.
Deanna had sprained her ankle on day 3, and was the only significant injury on this trip. She could not hike out as planned and ended up being airlifted out by the Nation Park Rangers.
It had been fun to share the trip with all of these guys and we would miss them.
The 6 of us ‘full trippers’ – Fred and I and Becky, Tom and Nancy, and Patrick – would welcome the new group. . 11 new people would arrive by noon, having hiked down the Bright Angel trail to meet up with our group and the rafts at the Pipe Creek Beach, just downstream from Phantom ranch. Our daughter Sarah and her husband, Jason, would be in that group.
We had camped just 1 mile upstream from Phantom Ranch. As we rafted under the black suspension bridge headed to the Phantom Ranch boat beach, I thought back to the first time that Fred and I and our kids (then all young adults) had first crossed that bridge on foot after hiking down from the rim. Fred and I had crossed that bridge, again, just 2 years ago on a repeat hike of the canyon.
Fred and I got a kick out of revisiting Phantom Ranch. I believe that we were the only people on this half of the trip who had been to Phantom Ranch before. On the lower canyon trip, our daughter Sarah shared that distinction, having hiked the canyon with us in 2004.
From Phantom Ranch, Pipe Creek is a short, mostly level,1 mile hike. I was just too excited to wait for the guides to raft us down. Fred and I decided to hike the mile to Pipe Creek, enjoying the feeling of familiarity with the trail.
After checking in with Matt at the Pipe Creek Beach, Fred and I walked a little ways up the Bright Angel trail and spotted the rest area shelter that was located just at the turn off for the beach. We settled in to wait for Sarah and Jason. It may have been a bit embarrassing to seem so over eager, but I did not care. I was waiting on my baby to show up! : )
We waited….and waited……we had arrived quite early, after all. When we saw them round the bend coming down the trail, I was so excited that I forgot to get a picture!
I made up for it later…..snapping a number of pics as they geared up and fell right into the routine.
We had rapids to get through that afternoon…….3 of the biggest of the trip so far. You can check out some of my previous blogs (especially the one on the rapids) if you want to see how camp life and the river flowed on the lower canyon part of the trip.
That evening, Matt gave the ‘newbies’ their orientation…….
And we relaxed and caught up visiting with Sarah and Jason……and got to know the new group.
A group photo shared by Patrick of the lower canyon group (including us ‘full trippers’) – from rear left – Tom, Nancy, DJ, Fred, Sue, Jason, Sarah, Russell, Darlene (Dar), Becky, and Tony and Carrie
In front, from left – Patrick, Dave and Mary, Tana and Jim.
We had a new crew for the paddle raft – Russell and Tana, Tony and Carrie, and Dave and Mary – 6 friends from California who also all happened to play college volleyball! The others would join us in the oared rafts.
I will confess that it was awkward at first, just having had said goodbye to the first group that we had gotten to know quite well, then welcoming this new group who we did not know. It took a couple of days, but we got to know one another and enjoyed each other’s company.