On the morning of Day 6 we left Rattlesnake and headed down river to just across from Vishnu Creek, which would set us up to hit Phantom Ranch the next day. I was still struggling with the group dynamic and all of the excessive crap and chores that camp required. I wished that I was out there with a small group of friends who saw and experienced the Grand the way I did. The simple way, with minimal gear, solid respect for the Canyon and an understanding that all that was needed were the basics. I find is extremely strange that one would need music in the Grand Canyon. Isn’t the peace, the remoteness, the simple fact of just being there, enough? The group I was with loved to bring their own noise to camp and the River each day and I hated it. I hated anything and everything that took away the already perfect moments in the Canyon and once again I found myself stuck with nowhere to go. I knew the next day when we arrived at Phantom Ranch that I could finally leave this group and hike out. Hike out, go home and return with a River group who appreciated the Grand as I did. All night I thought about leaving and hiking out. The next morning, as we packed up I was set on leaving at Phantom Ranch. It was an extremely cold morning, rain was coming and the Canyon was socked in with winter clouds. As we made our way towards Phantom Ranch the rain began, it was freezing rain. The kind of cold that reaches down into your bones and into your very core. A stinging cold.
When we finally arrived at Phantom Ranch I called my mom from the Ranger phone and told her about my trip so far, she knew immediately that I was with the wrong group of people and she told me to hike out. She told me I deserved to be surrounded by others who also shared my love and respect for the Canyon and that my experience sounded terrible. Many people enjoy a party music filled Grand Canyon River experience and would have loved to have been out there with my group, but, I absolutely hated it. After talking to my mom and taking a few moments to think, I still felt compelled to leave. I was struggling. Phantom Ranch is a familiar place to me and I knew that it meant I could go home as long as I was there and if I didn’t hike out there, it would be a few days until I had another hiking out option and after that if I continued and wanted out later the further I went down River the less options of hiking out there would be.
Everyone started packing up the boats, people wanted to get going, the day was only getting colder out and camp was still a ways away. I had to make my decision and live with it. Bo asked me what I was going to do. I honestly, had not truly decided, however, something inside of me, which I still don’t understand forced me to get back into the boat and continue. As we left Phantom Ranch, Zoroaster Temple towered above the River completely covered in the clouds, it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I continued to look back at Zoroaster Temple not only because it was amazing, but also because it meant I had made my decision and I was now going down River. When the last view of Zoroaster Temple fell out of sight and the twists and turns of the River no longer allowed me to look back at it, I felt a wave of sadness and anxiety come over me. What hell did I do? Why didn’t I hike out?
The day ended camped at Trinity Creek, it was one of if not the coldest wettest days on the trip! To be continued….