After stuffing our faces in Tusayan we stumbled into the woods and fall asleep. We got up at first light to hike to the Backcountry Permit Office for our Grand Canyon permission slips.
We walked along the south rim gawking at tourists and at the deep chasm in the Earth to our left. At the South Kaibab trailhead we descended.
The trail looked like an Escher drawing at first and we scooted past day hikers as fast as we could. The crowd thinned. As we descended, we got hotter and sweatier and the dirt under our feet got redder and dustier.
We crossed a suspension bridge and waded into the Colorado River. It was cold and clear. We ate potato chips in the shade and a bold deer snuck up on us, tried to yogi some snacks.
In the late afternoon we followed Bright Angel Creek to Cottonwood Campsite and slept deeply in the warm canyon air. The next morning we climbed up the North Kaibab Trail, up through geologic time, until we reached the North Rim. Here were snow fields and pine and our last section of trail.
We finished our hike two days later, having walked through another 60+ miles of forest. We were hungry and thirsty for most of these miles, running short of food and then, at the very end, water. In a way, I was glad to finish and ready to rest, stuff my face with fruit and vegetables and meat, stretch my muscles, and put my feet up. But I was mostly very happy to have hiked another good long hike. It is such a privilege to be out here, in the desert and canyon and forest, with my husband, with everything I need on my back, with the stars watching over me each night.