So I was doing a random search for stuff on the NYU Stern website (actually, trying to figure out how to get an unofficial copy of my transcript - I've forgotten) when I somehow randomly stumbled onto this old article from the school newspaper "The Opportunity" about a Spring Break Grand Canyon trip I took with three of my classmates in 2002. I didn't even know that the 4th member of the trip had written something up. It was fun to think back to the trip and realize I had forgotten quite a number of details. Here's the article she wrote:
Spring Break Backpacking Down the Grand Canyon
by Amelia Sadowsky
Spring Break backpacking down the Grand Canyon with 10-50 lbs strapped to my back? I must be nuts.
Through the OAC (Outdoors Adventure Club), Sergio Fonseca sent out an email asking if anyone was interested in hiking the South Rim of the Grand Canyon over Spring Break. He recruited Alon Landa, Bo Young Lee and myself. Little did I know that all three were expert hikers and completely physically fit. Sergio competes in rock climbing contests as well as being an avid backpacker in Brazil. Alon is also an avid backpacker having done Yosemite and the mountains in the Carolinas. Bo is a yoga instructor and was probably in the best physical condition of all of us. However, I was probably in the worst shape of my life having trained hard at Stern by sitting for hours in the computer lab and through class lectures as well as building my arm strength filling my cup at beer blasts.
But I was pysched for this trip and maybe a bit terrified. I felt that this was the best way to see the GC. I also figured if I could accomplish backpacking down the GC, I could do anything. So I outfitted myself at EMS (where the mountain salesmen who wouldn't be caught dead shopping in a mall proceeded to gleefully hop around picking out equipment and clothing for me as if they were Long Island JAPs out with daddy's credit card). My family purchased a few supplies for my trip including a whistle with a compass and thermometer built in (clearly they were afraid I wasn't coming back).
Saturday, March 9th
4am car service to JFK airport Between the four of us, we totalled less than one night's sleep. I managed a whopping two hours and slept more than anyone else.
7am flightWhose bright idea was it to get such an early flight, Alon?We check our packs and each weighs in at anywhere from 30lbs to 45lbs (not including our carry on items, the 7lb camera Bo has brought or any water needed for the trail)
Arrival in Phoenix, AZ
Luck must be on our side. We caught our shuttle from Phoenix to Flagstaff and then our final shuttle from Flagstaff to the GC with almost no hitches. And we made it just in time to put our names on the waiting list for a permit to camp below the rim.
Night one at Mathers campground on the South RimCamping is good so far but a bit chilly. My thermometer reads 40°F but that can't be right. Boys are mumbling something about freezing their nuts off and Alon seems to have lost all feeling in his toes. We are able to have a nice warm campfire and a great hot meal.
Sunday (Day 1 on the Trail): "I think I'm going to die"
What luck! We are granted a permit for 5 nights (originally we thought we were only going to get 3 nights). We will be hiking a trail down Dripping Springs to Boucher Trail, across Tonto to Hermit Creek and further on to Granite Rapids and then back up Hermit Trail. We start out on the trail at 1pm. We are to complete Boucher Trail today to make our first campsite. Boucher is described as "…rugged and steep route challenges hiker with sections of exposure to height… if you can't walk on the edge of your roof, don't hike Boucher." I cannot count the number of times I think I'm going to die. We make it to the flat ground despite my slowing the group down, Alon and Sergio having to take out at least 20lbs to carry themselves and even carrying my entire pack and it being dark (we did not make our first campsite). My legs feel like they are going to fall off. I cannot bend them at all. Dig hole in ground to poop? Pebbles permanently stuck to ass. This must be a bad joke. How the hell am I getting out of here?
Monday (Day 2 on the Trail): "I know I'm going to die"
From Boucher Trail to Tonto landing at our second campsite, Hermit campgroundI am on a death march. Tears of pain are trickling down my face by afternoon. I cannot bend my legs at all. We make it to Hermit just before dark. There are these cute fat little mice swarming our food so we lock it up in food boxes provided at the campsite. Alon's hair has managed a nice bouffant? And we have nicknamed him "pretty".
Tuesday (Day 3 on the Trail): "Wow!"
Back on Tonto trail on to the Granite RapidsBy lunchtime, I will pay anything to get helicoptered out. I tell the group to injure me so I can have rangers come rescue me. I know I'm going to die here in the GC. We make it down to the campsite in the afternoon and it's on a beach right by the Colorado River. Wow, the river is powerful and beautiful. Once evening sets in, we lie outside staring at the stars and listening to the rush of the river. It is so beautiful and peaceful here. There is no other place on earth I want to be.
Sergio is racing along the trails as if he were born in these rocks. Plus he decided to make about 12 helpings of mash potatoes for dinner which he managed to eat almost all of. So we have nicknamed him "goat" because of his ability to navigate quickly on the rocks and because he must have four stomachs like a goat to eat all that food. Bo practices her yoga stretching every day so we have nicknamed her "pretzel" because she is a human pretzel. I have affectionately been nicknamed the big "O" because of all the grunting and heavy breathing I am making the trail. Perhaps they could have just nicknamed me turtle or something…
Wednesday (Day 4 on the Trail): "This was soooo worth it!"
Up the trail and we return to Hermit campgroundMy legs have loosened up and I am picking up speed on the trail. I am still carrying a pack less than half the weight of the others but that is on average 15lbs (with water; gosh, water weighs a lot). It's very windy today. I'm walking on a trail (if you can call it that) the width of my hips and the winds are now trying to blow me of the side of this canyon.Hang up food? The squirrels will just think we are hanging the food as a game. It will not stop them from eating our food.The views are incredible. Pictures just don't do it justice. I wouldn't trade this for the world!
Thursday (Day 5 on the Trail): "Can we stay here forever?"
Back on Tonto to Hermit trail (stopping overnight at Santa Maria Springs)Isn't this amazing? I can't believe we have hiked in and almost out of the Canyon. It just doesn't seem real. I don't even miss civilization and I'm ready to hike the whole trail again.
Friday (Day 6 on the Trail): "I can't believe it's already over."
Hermit Trail to Dripping Springs out to the South RimI can't believe how quickly this time has gone, although the arriving at the South Rim almost a week ago feels like a very distant memory. I'm really gonna miss the GC.Wow, we stink. Bo pulls out a sock that is so stiff that it looks like there is still a foot in it. We all crack up with laughter. We finally get a shower in Flagstaff and it has got to be the best shower I've ever had.
We're heading home! Civilization here we come. I miss the GC already…
I want to thank Sergio, Alon and Bo. Without them helping me down, shoving me up and holding my hand, I doubt I would have made it. Their unwavering support and cheering me on was a blessing. I still cannot believe they did not smother me in my sleep and I thank all three of you for sharing one of the biggest challenges and best times of my life.