Miles: 16 Steps: 31,999 Vertical gain: Strava Knows! Liquid consumed: oz. Wildlife: Dogs, cattle, horses Faith in Humanity: 2 people offered me rides when I was walking the final ride to the park which I declined. Also all 3 rangers I met in the Park were super cool, hope they follow along! Breakfast was darn tasty if I do say so at the cheap hotel! Bottled OJ, blueberry muffins, a cinnamon bun, nutrigrain bar, rice crispie treat and something else o don’t recall was consumed by yours truly. Tasty! I hit the highway and it had a really wide shoulder the whole time which was nice. Time passed rather quickly too. I reached the turnoff for the park and there was a picnic area and restroom right there. There was also a store I didn’t go on to avoid spending money. The road to the park climbs the entire way, but is pretty farm country. The 14 miles total to the Visitors Center really wasn’t so bad this morning. I was nervous I wouldn’t get a camping permit because of my lateish arrival but I was happy to find out I was the only person who would even take the route I wanted to today. Sweet! After filling out the permit (for free, too, which is nice!) I took a break outside the visitors center on a bench. A ranger I hadn’t met approached me and asked if she had seen me on the road. I told her if my journey and she was super cool! Even offered me a place to stay as it sounds like our paths may cross again as she lives quite a transient lifestyle herself. Thanks so much, I really hope our paths do cross, I’d love to chat with you some more! Next began the hike to the river: really a route, not a trail as it’s somewhat loose and technical the whole way. Not horrible, but I bet a lot of people would hate it, particularly with a large pack on. I slowly made my way down, down past the famous chain used on a particularly steep part, down, down, down. I took my time and took quite a few photos, hopefully some will turn out! It’s so beautiful here. Such a deep, narrow canyon! Kind of amazing no one else is down here. Feel so lucky! Even luckier that I’ve been to this park probably 8 times, done 4 different routes to the river (none are easy!), and this is my 3rd time camping at the bottom. Tip: on the North rim take the SOB draw route and camp on “2nd beach”. Not only will you be directly below the largest cliff in Colorado, it’s also beautiful (the Painted Wall) and you get the odd experience of seeing people from 2 separate viewpoints on the South Rim look down 2,000 vertical feet at you. The Gunnison Route I’m on Now is cool too. The “easiest” route to the river is still quite challenging! One reason I’m surprised no one else is here is that this is such a great place during the “off season”. Low enough in elevation to not get snow until later on, super beautiful, and also challenging. A lot of other places in the state are quite snowbound so those are a no go. To be honest though, I think it’s mostly just a mindset issue. It is colder, and for some reason a lot of people don’t get after it much but lead a more sedentary lifestyle, waiting for Winter to come. I’ve for sure been guilty myself of this in the past. Interesting how a certain mindset can really change your whole lifestyle! Anyway, it’s gorgeous here. I’m going to eat some food, set up my tent, and stare off in wonder of this beautiful place!