Who on earth put all those rocks under my sleeping mat? Between the rocks and slope of our camping spot, I didn’t get the best beauty sleep of my life (at least, that is the story I am using for why I look like this this morning).
Today we go from Monument to Granite Rapids. Granite Rapids is less than 1 mile down (less than 1,000 vertical feet) from Monument. It is also full of steep cliffs and trails covered in granite gravel (which makes for sure footing – NOT!).
As we were packing up to head towards Granite Rapids, two children came over to visit us from the next camp site. The kids were 6 & 9 yrs. old and hiking for a long week with their parents. Our son was thrilled to see other kids. My husband and I were impressed that these little tykes were hiking the Grand Canyon. We got the impression that their Mom & Dad were serious hikers and the “hiking bug” was in their blood. They were really nice folks.
We made our way towards Granite Rapids. As I am terrified of heights, my two guys went ahead of me (I inched my way on the trail to avoid slipping). My husband was around the corner taking photos of the valley and stepped the wrong way, injuring his knee. The same knee that he has had surgery on in the past. When I met up with them at last, my husband made the decision to change our plans. Instead of descending further and hurting himself more, he decided to cut our vacation a little short with a change of route. As the signs say around the park: “Going to the bottom – Optional. Getting to the top – Mandatory.”
Honestly, after looking at the steep cliffs (did I mention the 100 story drops?), I was relieved that we wouldn’t be going down to Granite. I was a bit disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to soak my feet in the Colorado River though. I know I will always regret that.
We turned around and went back through Monument to Horn Creek. We were glad that we refilled our water jugs at Monument as our next water stop, Cedar Creek, was completely dry. We kept walking on to Salt Creek. My husband and I didn’t realize that our son wasn’t drinking enough water until he started saying he felt nauseous and dizzy (clear signs of dehydration). We pulled off the trail and forced our son to drink all of the Gatorade we had. By the time we got to Salt Creek, we were on our last drops of water. As it was around 80 degrees, drinking water was imperative.
Salt Creek was a gorgeous slot canyon as it was comprised of high cliffs and waterfalls cascading over sand stone boulders. We wanted to stay for hours and play in the water, but knew we had to get moving. Darkness was just a few hours away. We filled up almost 4 gallons of water and headed towards Horn Creek. The hike was nice to Horn Creek as it was mostly rolling hills along the edge of the canyon. I did find out later that my husband spotted a large Diamond Back Rattlesnake under a rock just a few feet from our trail. He was smart enough not to tell me when he saw it. I am not a big fan of poisonous critters.
The water in Horn Creek is undrinkable as there is an abandoned uranium mine above the creek. The water is a sickly yellow color. Hikers are told not to drink from the creek unless it is a “life or death situation”. Thus, the reason why we were carrying 4 gallons of water with us.
As we had changed our itinerary from what the park service granted us, we had to pray that there was camping room at Horn Creek for us. That particular site only allows 6 people a night. We arrived right at sunset. There was another couple there. My husband explained our plight and his knee injury. The couple had reserved the spot for themselves and 2 other couples. The other couples hadn’t showed, so they allowed us to be their guests for the evening. Whew! That was a relief.
After setting up camp, my guys decided to live life dangerously and have dessert for dinner. Nothing like Triple Chocolate Cheesecake or Three Berry Cobbler for dinner. I knew that my feet were in bad shape, but didn’t realize it until I took off my boots. I had a 2″ blister on my right heel and my right big toe had a huge blister under it. I was in serious pain. Thank goodness for Ibuprofen!
That night, we heard deer munching outside our tent. The wind blew with a vengeance. We had made it through another day in this beautiful, national treasure. I was beginning to have a lot of respect for her. She was a tough old girl. I was hoping I could be too.