Sure-Footed Canyon Plunge Thrills Teens

Thinking back over the years, we should have paid more attention to our first “travel light” experience. It was the spring of 2006, and Andrew was graduating from high school that June. Brad and Chris were two years behind him, entrenched in life with their friends and various activities. Time was running out for family vacation memories.

Our mules were well trained for this photo op!

How could we generate enthusiasm from our three teen-aged sons for a weeklong trip? With a little outside-of-the-box thinking (and five cowboy hats) we found ourselves astride the mules at the Grand Canyon, facing downhill! After a short “pep talk” informing us that mules are not the easiest way to experience the Grand Canyon and that if anyone wanted to back out, “now is the time to do so,” we headed down the Bright Angel trail behind our guide Patrick. We were bound for Phantom Ranch, a beautiful but rustic guest ranch at the bottom of the canyon, where we would spend the night and ride up the next day.

Checking in the previous day, we were each handed a plastic bag, only slightly larger than a hot water bottle. We were told whatever personal belongings countered able to fit into the bag could make the journey with us down the canyon for our overnight stay. We all carefully decided what was important and then tried to squeeze in just one more thing.

Despite the lack of luggage, I think this was one of our most memorable vacations. On the ride back up to the rim, a fellow traveler asked our boys to each rate the trip on a scale from one to ten. After two days of sitting atop a mule, no electronics and only the endless canyon views, we were thrilled to hear ratings of nine or ten from all our kids. We're learning…take less and see more!





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