Grand Canyon 2014: A Good Night’s Sleep

Nighttime is always the hardest for me on backpacking trips. I simply don’t sleep well on the ground. Actually, especially here lately, I don’t sleep well period – even in the comfort of my own bed. So sleeping on the ground… and without the benefit of the quieting effects of my husband’s C-PAP machine… is terrifyingly daunting.

Our first night at the Grand Canyon, we slept on the rim in Mather Campground. It’s always the worst night because it’s so freakin’ cold up there! We arrived after dark and setup the tents: girls in one, boys in the other.

As I rolled over onto my side, my butt bumped my daughter’s sleeping bag.

“Ooh!” She called out, “You touched me with your bottom! Don’t do that!”

The night was cold and I added layers of clothing through the night. I kept my face tucked up into the sleeping bag. I rolled over frequently to regain feeling in whichever arm had previously been on bottom. I stretched out when my legs felt tight, only to retract them quickly because of the freezing temperatures in the foot of the bag. Sometimes when I’d move, cold air would rush in through the top of the bag and chill my entire body. Oh, and I learned that my daughter snores. I was miserable, pure and simple.

Jane was cold too. By the morning, she didn’t mind my bum one bit. In fact, she was nearly spooning with me when it was time to get up.

Daryl chose that night to talk in his sleep. Shout, actually. And then later pick a fight with his brother. Apparently both of them move a lot and don’t like to feel crowded by the other.

The second night was better. At least it wasn’t as cold. I had trouble falling asleep though. In part because the lovebirds in the campsite across from us had retired to their tent and she was giggling uncontrollably. I contemplated walking over there and asking them to have sex more quietly. When I told my husband that the next morning, I learned that he had been having a similar but less charitable reaction.

That night was also the night Hal did one of his I’m-not-awake-but-I’m-also-not-happy hissy fits. He fussed and fussed and fussed and kicked about while Daddy demanded to know what was wrong and what he could do to help. It was both frustrating and hilarious to listen to.

The final night was the best as far as sleeping went. It was warmer – so warm, in fact, that I almost sweated in the sleeping bag. The primary disruption was Jane waking me up about 4 am to ask permission to go to the bathroom.

Of course, that was also the night that I forgot my phone was still on Central Standard time and we were now in Arizona. I dutifully powered on the phone and set the alarm for 6 am. When it went off, I woke everyone else and quickly packed my sleeping bag and rolled up my Thermarest.

As I got out of the tent and our voices began to rise (quiet time ends at 6 am), Jane asked, “Mom? Did you reset your clock? My phone says it’s 5:15.”

Oops. The two adults decided, much to the children’s chagrin, that we’d stay up but just move about quietly. This ended up getting us on the trail and out of the canyon that much earlier though so I don’t think there were too many regrets once the day was done. And everyone slept beautifully in the hotel room that night.