Thursday, September 20, 2007

Grand expedition

Date: Sept. 19
Mileage: 18.1
September mileage: 405.5
Temperature upon departure: 46
Rainfall: 1.11"

This is a picture of me and my dad at the Colorado River near Phantom Ranch in October 2005. It was my second rim-to-rim hike across the Grand Canyon ... something that was becoming an annual pilgrimage of sorts for us. We had been planning the trip all year ... long before the day I just up and moved to Alaska. So after living in Homer for less than a month, I flew down to Salt Lake to complete this whirlwind epic with my dad.

There was a bittersweet tinge to the trip, an understanding that it was the end of an era. My dad and I have always been able to connect through hiking. When I was 16 years old, he convinced a very reluctant teenage version of myself that I had it in me to make the 18-mile trek to Timpanogos Peak and back. I wore my brand new hiking boots, a concert T-shirt and some jeans. He carried frozen Gatorade bottles in a bulging backpack and stopped every few miles to ply me with chewy granola bars. We marched into the August sun until I could see my pain, in spots, spinning in the sky. But on the crest of the mountain, looking out over Utah Valley with the chill of raw wonder pulsing through my veins, was where my life of adventure really began.

My dad and I did a lot of hiking in the years that followed. We were always trying to top our epics ... traveling to Nephi to hike Mount Nebo, traveling to California to hike Mount Whitney. In 2004, he invited me to hike the Grand Canyon - which, at 26 miles, with roughly 7,000 feet in elevation change and temperatures that range from 32 degrees at the rim to 100 degrees at the river, was arguably our most ambitious plan yet. So when it went off without a hitch, we talked about making it a yearly event. The next year, when I contemplated moving to Alaska, one of the activities at the top of my "things I'll miss most" list was hiking with my dad.

On Thursday, I head south for trip No. 3, the Grand Canyon now being "the" hike, the only one worth making the commute for. This one is especially looking fun because my three aunts, my mom and my uncle are going; one aunt trained to make the hike with us, and the rest are along for the ride. Beyond the epic-ness of it, it's going to one big, strange family reunion. Strange because, at age 28, I am still the "kid."

I feel good about the hiking I've done this month to prepare. I think I am as ready as I was ever going to be, knee injury, bike-obsessed lifestyle and all. Most of all, I am really looking forward to hiking with my dad. Maybe I can even talk him into carrying the frozen Gatorade.


  1. Cherish these times and photograph them. There may come a time when one or the other of you can't make this trip anymore.

  2. Anything you can do with your family outdoors is the best!


  3. Your Dad looks like he is 20 years old in that photo. The guy appears to have won the genetic lottery!
    I wish that my Dad could do some of the things you have been able to experience with yours, but he has suffered for a long time from arthritis.
    So, hopefully I have inspired my son with some of the adventures that we have been able to share over the years. I would hate to look back on his youth and think that I missed the opportunity.

  4. You can add it to your list of "better posts". You know, I am an idiot, i finally saw that you're a journalist, so i shouldn't be that much at awe anymore, but it doesn't make me like your writings any less.
    As for the trip...I wish I had ANY kind of trips with my folks. I live through memories of others...

  5. Jill, great post. I have an almost 14 year old daughter, and although she hasn't gotten into cycling like her dad (yet anyway), we have found a connection through her volleyball. I love putting her through all the creative drills I can think of, and she loves the extra attention which has helped her to become a starter for her school team.

    Good luck with your hike.


  6. Jill -

    Sorry for this off-topic post - I could not find an email address at which to mail you. I would like to use one of your photographs in a design for a personal website I am making. Do you have any terms or fees we could discuss?


  7. I enjoy reading your blog so much! Thank you!

    Flagstaff and around the Canyon will be super nice--maybe even cold. However, once you get down in the Canyon, it will be warm like Tucson is right now--this morning I saw a fat rattle snake sunning himself on the side walk at a stop light--which I though was pretty awesome! So just kind of keep an eye out on you hike.



  8. Warm and sunny wishes for an unforgettable odyssey! Though it's been said above, you are really very lucky to be able to do these kinds of things with your parents. I hope to do the rim-to-rim someday. I recall something about mules... I think, even for a journalist, you are very gifted with words. :) Happy trails, until we meet again.

  9. Wishing you a wonderful trip and great family time. I wish I could go on a hike like that with my parents...
    But the real question is, how will you get through all that time without a bike?!?!

  10. Good luck Jill and cherish those times with your family.....they will always be great memories

  11. I'm guessing your Pop is a real clean living guy. Or else he had you when he was 10.

  12. I always wanted to get a postcard from Phantom Ranch ... carried by mules or the pony express. Hint, hint ... Have a great trip, Jill.


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