My first backpacking trip was a two-night trip into the heart of the Grand Canyon. To this date, it remains the hardest hike I have ever done but also the most memorable. It was spring break of our senior year in college, and my friend Clark (a veteran backpacker) wanted to see the Grand Canyon. My boyfriend and I had never been backpacking before, but we loved camping and were up for an adventure. Clark did all of the planning, so I didn't do much research or have any idea of what to expect. Being the poor college student I was, I couldn't buy much gear and somehow thought I could get away without hiking boots, a sleeping pad, or even a sleeping bag (ridiculous right? I didn't sleep very comfortably). I just picked up a couple nalgenes and threw some sweaters and sweats into the backpack I bought from REI outlet online.
Having been a gymnast for 10 years, I thought I was in pretty good shape and didn't need to train. I was surprised at how difficult it was to walk downhill with a backpack on! The 7 mile hike dropping 4,700 feet into the canyon certainly took a toll on my legs, but thankfully the impressive views of the Colorado River carving its way through the red rock were enough to distract me from my burning quads. We were lucky to take our first few backpacking trips with Clark, since he had all of the gear (3 person tent, backpacking stove, water filter, etc) and taught us proper backcountry etiquette like how to wash dishes using the least amount of water, the best foods to bring, taking regular packs off breaks, and never cutting switchbacks.