Grand Canyon Family Reunion
My extended family is pretty big and early last year, my cousin and I had an idea to have everyone meet up to camp and hike the Grand Canyon in 2019. We landed on Memorial Day Weekend, and worked hard to try and get a permit to hike to Phantom Ranch for the North to South Rim hike. Unfortunately no one was drawn for the lottery for Phantom Ranch or the campgrounds at the bottom, but we did have quite a bit of interest of people wanting to camp. Relatives from Arizona, California and Texas made the drive to one of the Seven Wonders of the World to camp out and have a fun weekend. Once everyone arrived, we had around 30 people in attendance!
We set alarms for midnight, 6 months before Memorial Day and ended up securing 7 campsites at Mather Campground. Those who didn’t want to camp enjoyed a stay at the Yavapai Lodge, but took frequent trips to hang out at the campground and enjoy drinks by the fire. My mom and dad are troopers… they are in their 70s and they braved lows of 32 degrees and SNOW to camp next to us and help take care of the kids.
My mom’s birthday was that Saturday, and we had planned to take a half day hike along one of the Canyon Trials. Our group of 15 hikers decided on Bright Angel. We headed down, our group dwindled to 13 once two decided to head back up… they were the smart ones! At the top, it was a chilly 50 degrees. We made it to 1 Mile House, checked in with everyone, kept going. Made it to 3 Mile House, checked in, kept going. Made it to Indian Garden, filled up water, rested and had snacks and knew it was time to turn around. Too bad it was 11AM, not a cloud in the sky, and close to 85 degrees.
About one mile back up some of us were struggling. We took frequent rests and some trail angels offered electrolyte tablets, and salty foods for those who were beginning to cramp up. Our half day hike turned into a 14 mile full day hike. The Canyon is no joke… By the grace of God, everyone made it up, and despite some bruises, blisters, and dehydration, everyone was fine. One of our uncles made the best pozole verde I have ever had. I swear it restored my strength after that hike. He had made it for my mom’s birthday. I felt awful because my parents had been with the kids all day, and that wasn’t the original plan.
All was forgiven once we had the magical healing pozole, enjoyed cookies, brownies, apple pie and sang my mom happy birthday around the fire. The next day was more relaxing and that evening as we were about to have a fire and game night, a storm rolled in dumping rain on everyone. We rushed to our tents, and listened to the rain as we fell asleep. In the morning it was freezing, and the rain had turned into snow. We packed up with frozen hands and in shock at snow, in Arizona, at 6000 feet of elevation at the end of May!
We stopped at a Route 66 diner in Williams for breakfast and ran into our California familia who was heading back to the west coast. Despite being a little rough around the edges, we warmed up with some coffee as we looked in awe at the snow falling outside of the window. The drive back through Flagstaff was a bit sketchy given the several car accidents we passed. Everyone checked in as they made progress back toward their homes. Thankful we arrived home safely, as did everyone else.
Will this become a yearly event? I hope so! I’m thankful for my fun-loving outdoorsy family.