My life changed this summer. I’ll tell you what happened… I bought a mountain bike! After biking for just over 3 months I got the opportunity to go on a tour with Escape Adventures in the Grand Canyon. A dream come true!
I’ve never been on an organized tour before and I wasn’t sure what to expect, but let me tell you- it exceeded all of my expectations.
We’re going to explore trails in the Grand Canyon and St George with a group of seven people that I’ve never met. An adventure of its own already!
On arrival I meet our first guide, Kathi, a true adventurous strong lady from Alaska. Her energy is contagious. That night we meet the other guides and the rest of the group; I will be calling them my friends soon.
Our adventure starts by driving out to Arizona. The scenery is changing and we exchange bike stories, previous wilderness experiences and adventures. We are a true mixture of people. A pro biker with tons of experience, a road cyclist and writer, a beautiful rock star city girl from LA, a flamboyant city boy from NY who has never camped before, and then me- a mountain girl and backpacker at heart. The stoke is high!
Time to ride bikes! First our guides make an amazing lunch for us, and get us set up with our bikes. Let me make a side note here straight away: the bikes are a-ma-zing. I’m used to my own full suspension bike, but when I saw the range of options I could ride with Escape Adventures, I wanted to ride their bikes!
Troy and Kathi divide us into two groups, so we can ride at our own level. They make everyone feel so comfortable and at ease, which I think is such an amazing quality to have as a person. In the mean time our guide Ike drives the Escape-van to mid-trail to check up on us. Another safe feeling. And a good thing too! The nature gods decide that it’s time for a torrential downpour with hail, lightning and thunder. The trails morph into rivers and we are soaked to the bone. But still, we are all having a blast. We see the funny side of this all happening and when we arrive at camp and set up our tents, our awesome guides start a fire and light up the stove to prepare our dinner.
Now that we’re talking about food, let me dig a little deeper. I’m vegetarian, I love cooking and don’t eat out too much because I usually prefer my own food. I have food-trust issues. I want fresh produce that is cooked and prepared with care. Although I love almost any food, I’m still a snob. Troy grilled fresh asparagus for us and he made me a brilliant tofu scramble that stroked my taste buds. We sit down at the fire and watch the sun go down, while we’re enjoying our first dinner in the wilderness.
One thing that I personally really really loved about this trip is that we’d all get up early to watch the sun rise over this vast landscape, that mother nature formed so so so long ago. Coffee is ready for us, and while sipping we watch in silence. This is a whole “mother” level of enjoying your morning coffee.
Day two we pedal through beautiful forests with aspen trees showing off their fall colors. We end up with an amazing view over the East Rim in the middle of Kaibab National Forest. We can see Utah from here. Our day is packed with adventure. Bike, food, hike, food, bike, food. Repeat. Although our days are full of activities, everyone gets a say in what they feel or don’t feel like doing. Our guides make sure of that.
We’re staying at the same beautiful camp spot as day one, right on the cliff edge of the East Rim. We play a card game and talk about every aspect of our lives. We are bonding as a group and thoroughly enjoying our social media downtime. We all feel like we’re making real life connections. Such a strange feeling to realize that that’s something special these days. We are truly escaping.
Day three we set off for more biking fun. Mark and I ride the Jem trail and Christina and Kiki are not far behind us. It’s so warm that we decide to jump in the lush green river below us, for a well deserved cool down. Our skin feels revived and we’re ready for our next adventure.
Far too soon, we feel this adventure coming to an end. We have one more day of riding ahead and everyone feels more and more comfortable on the bikes; people are even talking about buying their own after the trip. We check out some trails at St. George, which is known for their amazing trail network. Oh how fun! I can’t describe how it feels to flow around on your bike. I guess you’ll have to find out for yourself!
This trip was literally life changing for many of us. I felt like all of our group members inspired each other, each in their own way. We pushed each other, we understood each other, we learned from each other. To me that’s the real treasure of the trip. The people you meet- including the guides, everyone with their stories.. always something new to learn. Appreciating the beauty of people, nature and adventure.
___ Backpack Bren