Three days after my 24th birthday I piled into a car caravan with friends and co-workers, drove 12 hours to the Grand Canyon, and had the best 7 days of the year thus far.

The next morning we got up at 5am, repacked for the fourth time in 24 hours, ate some toast, and made our way to the rim. It was 13ºF. About an hour later, here we were, chipper as all get-out.

This is Jim – the reason we all went on the trip. He lives for the canyon, and this being his 43rd trip, had many stories to tell of adventures and misadventures. (At this moment, shaky muscles were meeting cold spring-melt water … 40 lb packs and a 5,000 ft descent left us creaky for days! Known as one of the hottest and generally most brutal, Tanner trail is apparently not the one to take as a first timer, but Jim had faith in us.)

This place is good at making you realize your size and worth relative to the universe.

Fording the Little Colorado. A few miles north lie the salt springs, a sacred place of origin for the Hopi people.

On the way back from our fourteen mile all-day journey. This was after walking a section of trail that wound right at the edge of a precipice, where a misstep would have sent any of us careening into the bright blue waters below.


One night we slept in a side canyon… the moon flooded this vase-like space with light, and crickets and scorpions danced their invisible dance all around us.

The last night by the river, we were illuminated by a nearly full moon. Magic!