Our trip from the beginning promised to be memorable. The highlight was supposed to be Las Vegas at New Years!!! And, that was something. But, this travelogue is about the most physically demanding Sunrise that I have seen till date. It was on the Grand Canyon.
My husband and I decided it was going to be Arizona, part of California and Nevada for that Christmas vacation. It was packed with hikes of varying difficulty and we started with Camelback in Phoenix. We landed in Grand Canyon mid way through our trip on a pleasant afternoon. It snows there in Winters and we were prepared for it. The sunset that evening was breathtaking. On the spur of that moment, we decided to catch the sunrise next morning. But, I was not prepared for what we were about to go through.
PS: My camera was set on Central time and was not on auto-set. Hence the attached picture shows a wrong local time
We left our lodge at around 4:00 am. That's not too bad (I had once tagged along at 3:00 am to catch the first rays of Sun on Tiger hill, Darjeeling). We had a 15 minute drive to reach the shuttle stop..Then, the shuttle took us to the view point. It was about 5:00 am now. We had no physical exercion upto this point. The outside temperature was -10 deg C. And, that view point had absolutely no enclosures. Sunrise was supposed to be at 7:30 am. But, there were already so many people waiting there for the Sun to rise in all his might and glory. The reason people reach so early before the actual sunrise is to catch the twilight hours. We were well dressed in winter coats, caps, gloves and shoes. These were the same ones that we used for Midwest winters where we live.
The first fifteen minutes were the only time when I probably had sensation in all parts of my body. Toes were the first ones to feel the cold. And, yes, I had my winter shoe and ski socks on. So, I started walking around making very short talks with husband and strangers. Then, my fingers. So, I started rubbing hands against each other through the gloves or thrust them into my coat pockets. Strangely, even though fully exposed, my nose felt the cold only after some time. So, I would take my hand and cover my nose from time to time. It was 5:45 ish and there was no sign of twilight yet. It was all still very dark expect for flashlights that few tourists were carrying. These lights would also go out as the twilight hours drew closer. In the next half hour my shoulders, thighs and even my chest started feeling the cold. This cannot be good, I thought. The condition of my toes and fingers were pretty pathetic. I wanted to go back to the lodge, to a warmer place, I wanted to cry or do something that will take my mind off of the cold. I started questioning if we did the right thing by bearing this cold. I looked around and everyone seemed to be in as terrible a condition as I was in. But, nobody left.
Then things turned around. It was twilight. The sky was lighting up. So far away in the sky we could see a clearing, it was almost like a ray of Sun. That was the only source of light at that moment. How magnifient it was. I truly forgot about the cold, my misery and everyone else at that point. I was dumbstruck. Then the actual first ray of Sun lighted a peak in the canyon. I felt elevated. It felt like I was part of the Canyon at that moment, as though that ray passed through me to touch the canyon. Suddenly, I was exhausted. It was not the cold. I could not bear so much happiness anymore.
To this day, when I have a difficult moment in life, I look back at that experience. It was an inspiration.