Frozen in the Desert

It’s the start of April in the Grand Canyon, Arizona. This setting usually makes people think of cacti, sprawling landscapes and dirt. Not snow and -8 degrees.

The week before, the forecast advised us of -2 and clouds, so thankfully we had packed our thermals. What we had also packed however, was a tent, which we would be sleeping in for the two nights we were there.

We drove in just before sunset the first night, watched the sun set over the canyon and were blown away by just how jaw-droppingly beautiful the place is. Really, you see the photos and you’re all “yeah, that’s a big red canyon looking hole” and then you get there and it blows. your. fricken. mind. We went to sleep that night and I remember thinking that my sleeping bag just wasn’t cutting it, so I put on a jumper and beanie over my pjs.

The next day my partner and I started the 23 km-round trek down to the lowest observation point of the bright angel track. We’d heard on the bus that morning there might be some showers in the afternoon, so we made sure our raincoats were easily accessible. I’m shit-scared of heights, so at first the thought of walking down narrow, dirt paths frightened the bejesus out of me, but as soon as I toughened up, the views and the walk down were spectacular. The walk down is easy enough. There were so many squirrels I just wanted to play with! But unfortunately there were signs everywhere informing me that the little guys had some awful looking diseases 😦

We managed to get down to the bottom, checked out the amazing aqua-coloured river and started our trek back up to the top of the canyon. About midway, I looked over into the view of the canyon and could see some bad weather heading our way. Around 20 minutes later, I looked to the top of the canyon and thought I must have been tripping balls, seeing what looked like snow. With about two hours left in our hike, it was a complete white out – and I started really looking forward to camping that night. I put on every last piece of clothing I had brought for the trek and we made our way back to the campsite, all the while just laughing at what the hell was happening: We were camping in the Grand Canyon and our tent was covered in snow.

We decided to treat ourselves to a steak dinner out of the snow, but the reality was we had to go back to our tent at some point. We got back to the camp site and my partner snuggled into his ridiculously priced (also incredibly warm, duck-down, the bastard) sleeping bag. I put on four pairs of socks, thermals, pjs, a jumper and a beanie and tried to fit myself in the sleeping bag. Never before had I felt so claustrophobic. The tent collapsed in the night from the snow, but thankfully my partner jumped out and put it back up.

The campsite had quarter-driven showers, I swear I spent about $5 on hot water. The hot water was beautiful. I also realised my roll-on deodorant had frozen during the night. At least I’d showered right?

We booked a helicopter tour for the morning and I know I’ve said it, but my god, it’s just spectacular. Even though it snowed aPostsnd I was frozen, I absolutely loved the place. I would highly recommend the bright angel track to anyone moderately fit, heading to the canyon.

Then we jumped in the van and made our way to Vegas, but that’s a story for another time…



Author: Emily Bishop

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