After meeting up with all the other Trekkers at the hotel in Scottsdale, Arizona we were bused to our start point in Sedonda in Red Rock State Park… basking in the sun for the start of our journey little did we realise what lay ahead!!!
As we set up our tents at our first camp in the Grand Canyon, after the day’s hiking, the weather was becoming decidedly chilly and as Mike played his guitar by the campfire there was talk of snow on the way and that certainly wasn’t on the itinerary when I signed up!!!
A 6am start and the forecast was correct as we awoke to a dusting of snow. The guys who organized the trip (as well as being cool guides) were from ‘Arizona Outback Adventures’ and they cooked breakfast for us and made the vital “kick ass” French roast coffee in the dark in a field kitchen. Something we were very grateful for every morning of the trip!
Unfortunately, the snow got heavier so with zero visibility our morning’s planned decent into the canyon had to become an 8-mile rim hike. But on a big positive it did give us views of a snow-capped Grand Canyon… a rare sight indeed. I don’t have a problem with heights but my habit of edging closer to the edge to peer over seemed to give Jules palpitations 😉
It was certainly a memorable day, but the snow didn’t let up, as we passed Elks along the pathway, so our planned camp had to be abandoned and luckily a kindly restaurant let us take it over for an indoor one! With the guitar out the night was great fun though and Mike kept us well entertained especially with his version of Slade’s “Get Down and Get with it” which we’d both loved hearing when they played at his Snowdon Rocks festival back in the summer. Even in this haven of humanity we were WiFi free so my planned updates went out of the window!
It was still freezing snow but following a short trip in vans (with trailers for the camping gear) we were able to get to the Bright Angel Trail for descent climb into the wonders of the Grand Canyon.
This 8-mile trek down was one of the most amazing I’ve ever experienced with the stunning views changing with every step. It was 3 down and 3 up that day but the up is a serious UP!
Others did it slightly longer the previous day as strangely the white out snow that ruined me and Mike’s hike was not everywhere in the area!
All good stuff though and if you bring the right kit (layers, layers, layers) and good hiking boots it’s fun.
With the Colorado river beneath us we rested up for a photo opportunity with the Love Hope Strength flag before we made the 4-mile journey heavenwards. Looking back on the Canyon from the rim it is impossible not to agree with its “Grand” name!
It was then it onwards to Lake Powell for our night’s camp and another great evening of songs around the camp fire. This time with Robin (Gin Blossoms) and I joined Mike, Jules, James S and Smiley in leading the trekkers in a medley of our favourite tunes.
We awoke to the beauty of Lake Powell with next stop Bryce Canyon which was an amazing place feels like another world and I was not the only one who felt they were walking on one of the Star Wars planets!
From the river bed, we again climbed higher and unbelievably into snow laden paths so not for the first time on this trip was it like walking from one climate zone to another!
Finally we squeezed a killer hike up “Water Canyon” in the Zion National Park before as we ended up in Vegas that night as it was on the way. It’s a “slot canyon” that has been carved by water that’s run off every spring for millennia. It was exciting, beautiful stuff and a hard hike without being too crazy on a travel day.
The comfort of a hotel room beckoned with a comfy bed and hot shower as we eased back into civilization 🙂
When Mike and Jules have created the number of LHS events over the years they’ve always liked to end the on a musical high with some sort of event or gig to allow those without the time or physical strength to join in the fun. “Rock the Canyon” was no different and this had all the ‘professionals’ taking the stage at the Desert Pines Golf Club in Las Vegas.
Some of the others took part in a golf day though I have to admit it’s not a sport that I’ve ever had an taste for and am always happier to stick to playing football (that’s soccer to you American’s reading here 😉 )
Whilst billed as a show by The Alarm having both me and Robin onstage meant it was a great excuse to include a few Cult and Gin Blossoms tunes into the set and a great night was had by all and a perfect end to the journey. To see what was played check out the Set List Here.
After trekking over 40 miles over the week it was a “challenging challenge” though mostly due to the very changeable weather but a brilliant experience with good people for a great cause… in an amazing part of the world!
So, to all the other 36 trekkers, the ‘Arizona Outback Adventures’ guides that helped us along the way, the folks at Desert Pines, those who came to the show and those who donated money to the cause thanks for allowing me to be part of this amazing experience… all this in the name of Love Hope Strength.
Billy Duffy – October 2018
You can find out more about Love Hope Strength Foundation here…