Murphy's Law: Grand Canyon Edition - My Family Travels

I juggled the tube of sun lotion from one hand to the other, weighing the merits of putting on a layer while my Girl Scout group was stopped for a break. In an attempt to leave the Indian Garden campground before the hour grew too late, that is, at 5:30 AM, I had forgotten to slather on a coat before starting the next leg of my Grand Canyon Backpacking Extravaganza. On one hand, the dirt tan I had acquired from kicking up dust on the hike down the Devil’s Corkscrew would make a very uncomfortable exfolient when combined with the sun creme.  On the other hand, once the sun got above the horizon I could very well become a Jessica-crisp. I already had blisters on the backs of my ankles, adding a peeling sunburn to the roster would not be pleasant. On the other hand, it was cloudy, and I could almost fool myself into thinking it would be an overcast day.

Overcast in the Grand Canyon, ha! I thought. But then again, there was that freak rain shower last night…. After dinner at the Indian Garden Campground, approximately halfway down the Bright Angel Trail that leads from the South Rim to Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the canyon, five of the nine Scouts on my trip took a quick walk out to Plateau Point, an overlook about a mile from the campground. It drizzled on the trek out, and showered on the run back.


Unfortunately, my tent mates and I had decided not to put up the rain fly while setting up our tent. In the 110 degree heat, and clear, sunny sky, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Still, it was better than two of our instructors. My two tent-mates and I only had to find the rain fly in Jenn’s backpack (which was hanging on the squirrel frame, a T-shaped contraption designed to keep squirrels from chewing through your supplies) in the dark during a rainstorm, tie the ends to small piles of rocks because the ground was too hard for tent stakes, find out that that rented tent was missing the poles for the fly, and then be thankful that we had discovered the hole in the tent bottom earlier and had already fixed it with a little duct tape.


One of my instructors, though, had been teased by some of her hard-core backpacking friends for even bringing a tent into the canyon. “What’s the point?” They had wondered. As everyone knows, it never rains in the canyon. It’s in a desert, after all. Ms. Karen had decided to compromise; bring a tent, but not the rain fly. In the morning, I woke up to see rain jackets draped over the tent and Ms. Karen and Ms. Jessie looking very tired.


I slapped the tube of sun lotion against my palm and weighed the odds of it raining on us again. They probably weren’t great, but I really didn’t want to tempt fate and end up with a bad sunburn. I am a walking Murphy’s Law; anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Sighing, I squirted out a swirl of sun creme and began to rub it onto my legs, trying to ignore the layers of skin I was probably scraping off. I hit the lid of the tube on my forehead to snap it shut and popped it back into my backpack. Hoisting it onto my shoulders, I checked the sky again. It still looked a little cloudy, but it couldn’t last for much longer.


Thirty minutes later, I ate my words.

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