The Hermit Trail is a more rugged path in the Grand Canyon compared to the more popular South Kaibab and Bright Angel trails. This was my first non-family backpacking trip.
We go to the store and get John a sleeping pad, pack our bags, take shuttles, etc. When getting off one of the buses, the driver asks if we are going to Hermit's Rest to go down. We say yes. He says "So you're taking the hard way down. Do you guys have whistles?" This scares us, and we realize we should probably look at our map (this is like 20 mins before we start). We come to the conclusion that it should be a pretty easy day. 9 miles, downhill. Within 2 miles John is totally wiped, and I have 3 blisters on each foot. Joe and I are already having knee pain. We start having discussions already of how the hell we're going to climb back out, plus drive. We decide we should climb out the next day instead of spending another night at the bottom. That way no time pressure hiking up. Halfway through getting to bottom I start carrying John's sleeping bag for him because the elevation is really hitting him. Me and Joe's knees are really hurting at this point, and we are moving slow. 2 miles away from camp, John and I have blisters too painful to ignore, so we apply duct tape. Finally make it to camp, John is so tired he is passing out before the tent is done being pitched. We rest for a bit, get some food in us, feeling better. Stars come out and it is super beautiful. We lay on our backs for a while and talk. We can hear the Colorado River loudly and lots of frogs croaking. Very peaceful, and was not cold. Everyone sleeps ok.
We reapply duct tape and head out around 9am. Right away climbing is hard. Sunny with no clouds, so we're getting roasted and we're still achy and blistered from day before. Joe and I take a little extra weight to make it better for John. On the way up, everything feels like it's 5 miles away until you are 20 ft away, so the whole trail is a mental challenge to not lose morale. Joe wears wrap to help with knee, but he is still hurting. My knee feels fine going up but my blisters are killing me. The last couple miles are brutal. My steps are about 6 inches forward, so I'm basically shuffling up. My feet in lots of pain, and muscles super tired. At the top, we get some cookies and take shuttles back to car. Shuttle ride was extra cool because we saw several elk. Despite all the struggles, everyone enjoyed themselves, is happy, and wants to do more backpacking trips in the future. We drive to a city called Williams which is like a little historic western town, eat greasy food, and get a hotel. Everyone is a little loopy from sun and exhaustion. I finally remove duct tape and my blisters are big.