This is what it was like at bottom of the canyon, on the banks of the Colorado River:
And this is the weather near the rim, ten long miles up the Bright Angel trail:
It's like hiking from Mexico to Canada in one day.
We started hiking out at 9 AM, most of us still sore from the knee-shredding hike down two days before. We didn't reach the rim until 5:30 in the afternoon. Not counting breaks and a stop for lunch, we hiked for just over seven hours total. Or at least some of us hiked that. What the twins were doing by the end couldn't really be called "hiking," more an exhausted stagger, veering wildly from side to side while I yelled at them because really there were no sides to veer toward. There was a canyon wall and death. Those were the veering choices. Canyon wall. Death.
We made it, though, mainly because our kids are amazing, and I say that knowing full well that parents who call their children amazing are really calling themselves amazing because, let's be honest, this was not our kids' idea. All our kids did was successfully not die. They joined my wife and I on a trip up and down the Grand Canyon and what they did was not die.
Don't get me wrong. I recognize that as quite an accomplishment. Our kids have the survival instincts of the dodo. We have a sign at the bottom of our stairs that says "This house has been accident-free for ___ days" and that number has never made it to the double digits. Had Lord of the Flies been written about my children, it would have been less a study of our base, primal, ugly instincts and more a study of how quickly children die when parents aren't there to open their granola bars. For them, "not dying" wasn't simply the bare minimum of what they did on our trip, it was a genuine achievement.
May all our holidays be as successful.