Disconnected: Here Are the Disposable Pictures I Took on a Tour of the Grand Canyon

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A week after turning 23, I was invited to go on a mountain biking, camping, and hiking tour with Escape Adventures. Mind you, I had never been mountain biking nor camping in my life, so I was beyond hesitant about throwing myself into a realm of extreme “novelties.” After a few days of contemplating, I told myself:

“Nasir, you literally work for a brand called Shut Up and Go, so don’t be a hypocrite. Shut (the heck) Up and Go!” Well, I might’ve said it to myself in a more vulgar fashion, but for the sake of this article, we’ll go with the cute pep-talk version!

Exhibit A: me after I told myself to Shut the **** Up and Go!

The first day of our tour started off with some great conversation during a four-hour ride from Nevada to Utah! I was pleasantly surprised with the other members of the tour; our biking and camping skills were all different levels. Our skill sets ranged from: Knowing How to Peddle (ME AND ONE OTHER PERSON) to Pro-Bikers Who Know How to Do Flips (Ummm..).

I found comfort in knowing that I wasn’t the only person who had never ridden a mountain bike or camped before.

We stopped driving after our 4-hour car ride, and we set up shop in the coolest, tucked away area we could find. We were fed a 5-star lunch around the campfire that welcomed my tummy to this athletic, healthy life.

(Side note: for real though – I was fed better than I am when I visit most restaurants in New York City – personal shoutout to the bomb chef, Troy)

Getting ready to start my first mountain bike trail on the trip.

Our first taste of that mountain-bike life started with riding through the Kaibab National Forest.

The trail was 5 miles from one side of the forest to the other.

Biking shoes on – check.

Back stretched – check. 

Helmet tight – check. 

LET’S GET IT!

I lifted my foot off the ground and fearlessly pushed myself forward. The first few minutes were pure bliss as I rode through yellow fields of southwestern flowers, while droplets of rain slapped my face and refreshed me. I pushed harder and harder, fighting uphill and propelling myself downhill. After my first mile of riding, I began to realize I was quickly becoming exhausted and getting winded. I totally expected this for someone (like me) who occasionally jogs once every  two weeks… but damn.

Kathi, our German guide, realized that I began to fall behind, then she explained that mountain bikes have gears, because the roads on the mountains are, essentially, a hot mess. She kindly told me, “Nasir, you’re feeling winded because you’ve been using the ‘easy gear’ to go up hills. You’ve gotta crank it!”

Best believe I cranked that damn gear, and I was zooming.

Vroom vroom, y’all!

Our campsite for the first few evenings.

After a good mile into the trail, the friendly raindrops decided that the best way to truly welcome a new biker was to unleash Satan’s tears upon him. Before we knew it, we were in the deepest part of the forest with the rain brutally attacking us. At first, it was frustrating because who casually likes getting soaked while trying to have a peaceful bike ride? But, I will say that there’s nothing like catching speed down a hill while trying to escape the rain.

Every curve of the land was exhilarating and, quite literally, breathtaking.

 

 

Zion National Park.

After fighting my way through the forest as a first-time mountain biker, I was exhausted as hell. More importantly, I felt like I accomplished something! In one biking session, I made up for an entire year without exercise.

I’ve never pushed myself so hard, and I’m thankful that I actually did.

Soaking wet, we made it to the campsite. Of course when we arrived, it stopped raining. Like I said, I’m sure that the rain was my welcome gift from Mother Nature. Cool – so I just rode 5 miles and got biker booty for the first time, and now it was time to try camping.

biker booty: when you ride on an untrained butt for a while and it becomes extremely sore. generally a symptom that affects newer bikers. 

I was really doing the most this day. I do not regret it though, because our campsite was on top of a cliff (on a mountain that overlooked the Grand Canyon). Ummmm…. YES!  We began to set up the tents. As my excuse to keep it chill after this muscle-wrenching bike ride, I asked one of the tour guides to “show me” how to set up the tent. *one of the perks of being a first-timer!*

After a few hours of lallygagging and taking it easy, I checked my phone to take a few photos of the campsite, and I had no bars of cell-service. This was a first for me. The sun began to set and the Canyon was covered with a pink-ish real-life filter… except, this was the magic of nature and not technology, baby! I put my phone away, pulled out my disposable camera and began to shoot everything I saw.

It began to get darker and darker until everything, excluding the campfire, turned the deepest of blacks. I looked up and panicked a bit. Every time I’d experienced nightfall, I was always in a city or in a place that had street lights. Tonight was the exception – the nearest town was a helicopter ride away, so it was just the other campers, the campfire, the stars, and me.

The life-filled roads in Utah.

As the next few days went by, the biking still remained difficult, but it was a challenge that I looked forward to. Some days I did the longer rides through super exposed trails, some days I went for 3-hour long hikes, some days I stayed behind and looked at the Canyon, and somedays I just chilled at the campsite and journaled. What I truly appreciated about this trip was that I got to do everything at my own pace, be in my own head, and process life as it happened.

Despite this experience being full of novelties, I am happy to know that I am someone who can easily adapt. I can truly say that I’ve never pushed myself so hard physically, but it’s the sort of push that I needed.

Voilà - THE GRAND CANYON!

5 Things I Learned from My First Time Camping

  • 11

    You will get uncomfortable, and that’s okay!

  • 22

    Don’t take running water for granted (although, I know to definitely use less of it).

  • 33

    Get ready. Stay ready. Anything can happen at any moment… like millions of fire ants trying to attack your feet during lunchtime.

  • 44

    Nature really is THAT B!SH. It’s so powerful just to sit outside with your thoughts, surrounded by 15 miles of trees.

  • 55

    Sharing is caring. Sharing a tent with @kikiwong meant more body heat to warm us up during 35 degree weather and intense winds on the cliff of a mountain… and I had the best ‘effing time despite thinking animals were going to attack us.


Huge shoutout to Escape Adventures! Check out more of my Grand Canyon Adventures on my IG! 

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