Wednesday, July 07, 2010

My Upcoming Grand Canyon Backpacking Trip

My post from yesterday about hiking made me think about my upcoming trip to the Grand Canyon.  Last Thursday, the 1st of the month, I put in a permit request for a backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon.  For anyone who doesn't know, the first day that you can request a backcountry permit in the Grand Canyon National Park is the 1st of the month of the 4th month before the dates you are requesting.  I want to take my trip in early November, hence I requested at the beginning of July.

The Grand Canyon is a very special place to me.  In October of 2006, my family and I suffered a loss that shook our world with the murder of my older brother Craig.  I was very much in a daze for the next couple of months.  On December 31st, 2006, my friend Chris and I took a backpacking trip into the Grand Canyon.  It was a very mentally challenging undertaking, and may be the single most physically challenging thing I have ever done.  I was not quite in the shape required of me for this trip, my knees did not do well, and from 6 hours into the trip on the 1st day until the very last step out of the canyon on January 7th, I was in tremendous pain.

I emerged, however, more clear-minded than I had been since my brother's passing.  It was as if I had ventured into the canyon as one person who ended up dying down there, and emerged as a new person who had accepted the loss of his brother and was ready to move on the way Craig would've wanted me to.  I also found after this trip that although I had been outdoorsy all of my life, I felt closer to the natural world than I ever had before.  I noticed more easily the impact that man has on nature, was more aware of the pain that the modern way of life can cause an ecosystem, and was for the first time aware of the joy that venturing out of civilization and into the wild can bring to me.  There is a distinct demarcation between the person I was when I was in college and before, and the person I am today... and that line falls on my first backpacking trip into the Grand Canyon.

Ever since that trip, and despite the intense physical and psychological pain I was feeling the entire time on it, I have tried to get back to the Grand Canyon as frequently as I can.  This has not been very much unfortunately.  I went again in October of 2008 and have not been back since.  My current job will hopefully allow me to go more frequently, since I have very good vacation time and the opportunity for plenty of unpaid leaves as well.

And at long last that brings me to what the main focus (and title) of this post is; my upcoming Grand Canyon backpacking trip.  If I get the permit dates I specifically requested, which I probably will, I will drive up to the Grand Canyon on October 31st or November 1st, whichever is easiest for me.  I will backpack into the canyon on November 2nd going down the Tanner Trail which starts at Lipan Point.  On the night of the 2nd I will camp at Tanner Rapids.  On the 3rd, I will hike via the Beamer Trail to the Little Colorado Confluence.  I plan on either staying there for 3 nights then hiking back to Tanner where I will camp another night then hike out, OR staying there for 2 nights then hiking back to Tanner where I will stay for another 2 nights then hike out.  If I spend the extra day at Tanner Rapids, I will day hike to the west briefly and use the rest of the day to recover before hiking out of the Grand Canyon, which is very challenging.  I currently have only requested the permit for myself, but I expect that two or three of my friends will eventually commit to the trip and I can add them to the permit, so it should be a fun trip.  If they don't, I will get to see what it is like to go on a solo trip into the Grand Canyon.

When writing a post for this blog, I will almost always try to ask what it has to do with my goal of homesteading.  In a small way, I think my homesteading project is my attempt to support and build around myself that wilderness I experience in the Grand Canyon and on other backpacking trips in a way that I can enjoy more frequently.  It will be a place where all I have to do to escape "civilization" is go home.  Also, I believe that in many ways my passion for backpacking started me on the path to discovering my passion for homesteading and self-sufficiency.  It certainly sparked my passion for protecting the environment and experiencing it more fully.  And to bring it full circle in a way that demonstrates the self-reinforcing strength I feel about this subject, my passion for backpacking and the outdoors are a huge part of what makes working working where I work so awesome, and working there is probably going to be what makes my homesteading dreams possible, and having a homestead is going to be what brings the wild and natural feeling I have while backpacking home to me.  In a way, backpacking is the grandfather of the Permie Homestead Blog, so I will always make room for posts about it when I have a great trip planned that I want to share.

In the future I'll make sure to give you updates on this trip and others.  I'll probably get my permit for this trip and find out my exact dates within the next couple of weeks, and I'll share those with you once I have them.  Also, planning a big backpacking trip always inspires me to take a lot of small hiking, camping, and backpacking trips to get prepared, so I'll be sharing those with you as they happen as well.  So until next time, thanks for reading!

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