The first afternoon and early evening on the South Rim was tempestuous. The Arizona skies were heavy and swirling. This is never a good sign in the monsoon season of early September, especially for a hiker about to descend into the enormous gash that is Grand Canyon. When stimulated, monsoon season means a heavy diet of rain, wind, thunder, and lightning. It means clear skies that turn to into an apocalyptic fury that can curdle the blood of the most fearless of campers. One look at the sky upon our arrival and I knew it was going to be an interesting week.
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The balmy air at the North Rim was speaking to me. I should have been listening. Late September in these rarefied parts is normally brisk, sometimes even cold. On this day of our arrival we were comfortable in short sleeves. If it were warm here, the inner furnace of the canyon would be even hotter than normal. But the Nankoweap Trail was already playing with my head. I'd heard and read so much about its steepness, ruggedness, and dizzying heights I didn't even bother to think of its exposure to heat and sun. But in the end it's the heat that always matters in Grand Canyon. Always.