At long last it was time to ride through the Grand Canyon!!! My mom and I just had to first ride 20 miles to get to the north rim first. We had been warned by a hiker that there were a hundred downed trees in our way so we were a little nervous to say the least. Thankfully it was more like several dozen than a hundred and most were small and easy to get around or hop over. Hopping over fallen trees while wearing a backpack is probably the least graceful thing you can ever do while riding a horse. The backpack just throws off your weight so when the horse lands all your momentum slams you face first into the neck of your horse. My mom and I had more than a few laughs that brought us to tears watching each other go over the trees (especially Mom on Takoda, as he is a jumping fiend and there's just no persuading him otherwise when he decides the best thing to do is jump over, rather than go around). The horses are so good to put up with our nonsense and never back down from tackling an obstacle on the trail.
We made it to the north rim by 3pm. We had to wait around and graze the horses for 45 minutes while the last of the mule trains made their way out of the Canyon. The descent down from the rim was breathtaking and the rock was a shockingly red color.
The drop-offs were very impressive too and after the trail being pretty flat for the last 200 miles, I was actually happy to have some thrilling trail.
We got to camp in good time, just before 7pm. However, apparently the Grand Canyon didn't think I would honor my reservation or just totally forgot about me, because when we arrived at the Cottonwood Camp stock site, we discovered that the corral was padlocked, the water turned off, and our site had been given to two hikers. Lucky enough, the two hikers, Slingshot and Goldie, were thru-hikers I had met several times and they were happy to have us squeeze into the campsite with them. Slingshot and I even found a piece of rebar and used it to twist the chain link around the corral gate until it broke. Then I was able to lug 70 pounds of water up from the human campsites a fifth of a mile away. It was a pain and not at all what I paid for in order to get my permit. The Grand Canyon overall just didn't seem to know what to do with horseback riders, even though horses are allowed in the Canyon. Apparently it's just not a place people come to ride.