Back from the Canyon — tired, happy, injured!

By Caitlin Kelly

Southend of the Grand Canyon with Plateau Poin...
South end of the Grand Canyon with Plateau Point and Bright Angel Trail…The last time I was here, I hiked all the way out to the of the bottom of the trail you can see here at the outer edge of that plateau; 4 hours down; 8 hrs back up! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m back in Tucson again — after a 5.5 hour drive from Grand Canyon: 90 minutes south to Flagstaff; two hours south to Phoenix then another two hours southeast to Tucson, to rejoin Jose and the NYT Institute students and staff for fond farewells tonight and the final banquet tomorrow.

So this post is just a quick hello and a place-holder.

I’ll put up a few detailed posts from the three days I spent alone there, with lots of photos. (Even Jose said ‘Wow!”, nice praise from a  pro photo editor.)

It was a fantastic time, a badly-needed break from the daily stranglehold of the computer and the cellphone and the telephone and the daily newspaper. It was such a relief to not have to talk to anyone, or listen to anyone, or look at anyone. To not have to be polite or cheerful or attentive.

To not pitch editors or follow up or come up with any ideas or write or revise, (or cook, shop or clean.)

To be alone, and self-reliant and have to figure it all out by myself, without the protective help of my lovely husband. To remember how to be a woman out there, solo, in the wider world.

To just be.

I had no idea what was happening in the rest of the world — even though (sigh) there are newspaper boxes with daily papers all over the Park.

All that mattered was making sure I could put up my tent alone (yes) and not lock my keys in the car (no.) I ate out of the cooler I borrowed from a local friend and went to sleep early; it was dark by 7:30 p.m.

All those stars!

The injury — gah! — was self-inflicted when I was putting up the tent for the first time ever, and barefoot and filthy, jammed a tent peg into the middle of the bottom of my left foot.


Thank heaven I had a bottle of water to wash off the dirt, and soap and antiseptic cream and a bandage. But, just in case, I went to the clinic…and they wisely gave me a tetanus shot. No puncture, no stitches, just a nasty scrape.

So much for all the hiking I had planned!

Tomorrow morning at 8:00 am, I head off for a two-hour private horseback ride. Perfect way to end a fantastic vacation; we fly home to New York on Sunday.

Here’s a pic of me on the Bright Angel Trail, taken by a man with his daughter who — of course! — turned out to live all of 20 minutes’ drive away from my home in New York.


31 thoughts on “Back from the Canyon — tired, happy, injured!

  1. So sorry about the foot – but you were prepared as you should be. So glorious to be up there – the Canyon moves me to tears when I see it. Glad you are ok and impressing Jose. Have a great ride tomorrow – I know you will.

    1. Me, too. I feel better that you are as moved by the GC as I…I wept most of the way back to Flagstaff, feeling so bereft at having to leave it behind. It is a deeply mysterious place. But the Institute is held here every 2 years and we may even come back sooner just for some shared downtime here.

      Hoping not to land on a saguaro tomorrow! 🙂

    1. Yup. It’s NOT a big deal….although I did not see anyone else, male or female, doing it. The tent is easy to put up and I got the whole thing to myself. I had a few passing fears about it, being alone in the tent at night, but the campground was 100% full so I could not possibly imagine anyone trying to harm me — too many others around. Plus — I had a rock handy! 🙂

      I would be more nervous in a place with fewer people about..although the number of people was a little annoying.

      Try it!! 🙂

      1. We go to Tucson for work, so not sure that would work…but I have to find a way to enjoy the GC with FAR fewer people. I came home a very dedicated misanthrope.

        Next time, I’d really like to head up to Bryce and Zion. I kept hearing fellow campers raving about them.

  2. I love the Grand Canyon too … I always feel like a tiny speck when I’m there. Glad your injury wasn’t more serious and what a great photograph of you looking so relaxed and happy!

    I’m curious as to whether you had any grand epiphanies while camping in such a glorious space.

    1. I love that feeling as well. I was so glad to get a photo of me…that’s a challenge when traveling alone.

      I did have a few…coming up in the next post or two! This is our final day of vacation and tomorrow is travel day…so early next week I’ll do a long post with lots of pix — and epiphanies. 🙂

      The best part was shattering my hand mirror the day I got to Flagstaff. How prophetic is that? Vanity, be gone! 🙂

    1. I think there many others!

      But anyone who visits the GC and comes away unmoved is simply not paying attention. To face a landscape BILLIONS of years old is so astonishing. It’s a U.N. over there — I heard German, French, Russian, Japanese, Korean and plenty of British accents as well.

      I’ll be posting more details and photos in a few days.

  3. themodernidiot

    Look at you lookin’ all Nat Geo! You get that shirt at North Face? 😉 (Readin’ the “Malled.” So digging it.)

    Thank gawd your foot’s okay! The desert demands blood sacrifice. Glad the getaway got you away.

      1. themodernidiot

        Finished it, and yes, I enjoyed it quite a bit. I liked the mix of research with personal experience. You did a damn fine job describing it accurately. Retail is ridiculous.

  4. Interesting how, as we lead more and more a life driven by work and technology, more people are searching for space and nature. I went out to Wales a week ago, and when you reach a certain point the people become overwhelming.

    On camping and being alone, although I am a man. I have never worried even when wild camping. Although it is usually a god idea to test a new and unused one first. Even if only to make sure all the bits are there. 🙂

    I look forward to hearing more about the trip and seeing more pictures.


    1. It was an interesting moment when I unpacked the tent and read the pictograms assuring there would be six tent pegs…and there were none.

      I agree that fleeing it all is more and more important.

  5. I’m a little late, but wow! So beautiful (you and the view), so impressive to camp alone, even if you say it’s easy, it’s still an accomplishment! What kind of tent do you use? I’m thinking of doing the same thing in Joshua Tree this summer. Really glad your injury wasn’t more serious. Can I say I’m proud of you? 🙂

    1. You’re too kind…all I did was car-camp…nothing back-country (hike/pack/cooking/map and compass.)

      The tent is from MEC (a Canadian co-op like REI), a two-man with 2 doors and a tarp.
      It is DEAD easy to put up…maybe 10 minutes, at most.

      Maybe if/when I return to AZ we could meet up? L.A. is only a 6 hr drive from L.A.

      I’d urge you to camp on your own. Just be sure you have others around you and that someone else knows where you are.

      1. Thanks. I’m going to look into getting one. Looks big enough for me and the pup! I hear you on having folks around. I would be scared to be in a totally remote spot.

        And yes, next time you’re in AZ we’ll try to make that happen. It would be awesome to meet up. I might be in your neck of the woods sooner than you’ll be back out this way. If so, I’ll give you a heads up.

      2. I still want to read your book!

        I think camping totally alone in any remote area is very do-able. Don’t freak out at this, but I would probably only consider so doing (depending where) if I carried a handgun with me. The problem of being alone, female and on the road (I learned this the hard way after being targeted here by a career criminal) is that — even though we don’t think this way — we may well be observed by a predator. Ugly but true.

        It’ll be fun to meet, wherever!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s