Hiking the Grand Canyon with kids!

{the 5 of us … see the Super Moon peeking over Sunshine Girl’s left shoulder?! I JUST noticed that now!}

This past January, we escaped the bitter cold of Chicago & started our new year by doing our favorite thing: exploring the beauty of nature! Sam found $95 round trip tickets on Frontier from Milwaukee to Las Vegas and from there, we rented a car and put over 900 miles on the rental car in one week. Oh & by the way, we each took only 1 backpack on the airplane … so no carry-on or luggage fees! {We may or may not have worn several layers & sweat on the plane ride there.}

There is NO WAY you can ever fully prepare for the breathtaking view of the canyon. We had showed the kids photos & videos, but nothing compares to being there.
So, here’s tip #1: Park at the visitor’s center & head to Mather’s Point {a very short walk just behind the visitor’s center} & take a video to capture their reaction. {I really wish I had done this, as it was absolutely priceless when Sunshine Girl literally gasped when she saw it for the first time!} You might even want to blindfold them & then do a big reveal!

After watching the sun set in the west, I turned to show the kids how the colors of the canyon had already changed so much in the short time we were there & all of the sudden we could see a flaming ball rising over the eastern side of the wall. It was the super moon!!! The photos do not do it justice at all, as it looked HUGE. Apparently, it will only happen there once this year & we were so blessed to see it! Thank you, Jesus!

The next morning, we got up early to hike The South Kaibab Trail. See those switchbacks above?! It is intense. Which leads me to tip #2: Hike the desert in THE WINTER!!!! Over & over throughout the day I repeated to myself {& honestly out loud}, “I CANNOT IMAGINE doing this in the summer heat!” There is NO shade. And, there is no “easy hike” in the Grand Canyon since you are essentially going straight down & then straight back up. The trail starts at 7, 260 feet in elevation & we hiked 3 miles to Skeleton Point which is 5,200 feet in elevation.

{photo above is her “Patagonia pose” .. omg … she kills me!}

Ooh Aah Point is just that. You will stop, feast your eyes on the beauty, and it will take your breath away. Worth every step.
More on tip #2: Another reason to hike in the winter is there are WAY LESS PEOPLE out there. We maybe saw 50 people all day which equals bliss.

The above series of photos are from our final destination, Skeleton Point. Just steps past Skeleton Point is where you will get your first good glimpse of the Colorado River. And, how did we know this? It is based on tip #3: Make friends with the National Park Rangers & ask them LOTS of questions & they will gladly share their nuggets of wisdom. The reason we chose this trail in the first place was based on their great advice: shorter that Bright Angel, but more steep … so up to you. They thought the kids would do better with this trail & I am sure they were correct! {just look at those smiles, still on their faces! … remember, we’ve only gone downhill thus far}.

One of my favorite things about being in nature is the way it grows my heart in pure awe of God, the Majestic Creator. And I also love the spiritual lessons that come with the outdoors. While sitting here, overlooking the HUGE expanse of the canyon, we read to the kids my life verse, Ephesians 3:14-21 & I told them to look out & see how deep, how high, how wide, and how long is the valley & how much bigger God’s love for them is!

One funny story: I had also tried talking to them about The Bridge Illustration {a gospel tool illustrating our need for Jesus & how our “good works” could NEVER get us across to God}, but that was a total fail. I had said, “Pretend we are here.” Kids, “We ARE HERE, MOM!” {O.K.} Me, “Well then, look way over there & pretend God is over there.” Kids, “That’s dumb. God is EVERYWHERE.” Me, “JUST PRETEND!” Kids, “But, that does not make any sense!!!!” Finished by Sunshine Girl saying, “Mom, I don’t mean to offend you, but that just is not a very good analogy.” {Umm… OK… it’s only been used for decades!}

Tip #4 for hiking the Grand Canyon with kids: take lots of breaks & bring lots of water!
It was a HARD trip back, even in the cool 55 degrees, and I offered the mule leaders $1,000 to give me a ride! {Ha! They declined … they were working mules}
Tip #5: create incentives with your kids to get them to certain rest points. This can be a number of steps you both take, a certain rock or tree, a bathroom, etc… that way, they are not overwhelmed. I think my last incentive with Pumpkins on this trail was, “You can eat WHATEVER you want for dinner!” {those little legs earned it & I was seriously impressed!}

My Favorite Little Mister, on the other hand, did not need ANY incentives to complete the hike. In fact, Sam gave him permission to go up ALONE {every mother’s nightmare} & he RAN 1 of the 3 miles up. {He had been going through cross country training withdrawal & just “needed to get a run in”} OMG! Craziness. He got “a little lost” at the top, but then did his “cool down” run back to the visitor center where we met him over an hour later. Tip #6: Fathers, please do not allow your children to “just go up ahead” & thus give your wife anxiety.

Tip #7: Soak in an amazing sunset & celebrate the adventure you had that day! This view is from Lipan Point, another park ranger tip!

 

Enjoy!

Grace & Peace,

Julie

 

 

 

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