After such a peaceful night’s sleep, I felt incredible. Now, we only had 12 miles to get to Jacob Lake with the promise of a hot meal and some small resupply options at the small store at the Inn. Our only problem now was that we were a day ahead of schedule as we had not taken a Zero Day at the Grand Canyon. Knowing that Jacob Lake Inn had cabins and rentals, we decided to secure a room for tonight. That way, we could recover this afternoon and leave by late day tomorrow to get to our last campsite before finishing.
The morning was equally sublime. We walked through beautiful ponderosa pine with no snow while green grass spread new growth on the forest floor. We passed several filled tanks and saw several Kaibab Squirrels, the iconic species of the northern Kaibab Plateau/Arizona Strip. By late morning, we hit the trailhead adjacent to Highway 89A and signed the trail register. Turning left, we walked up the highway for two miles to Jacob Lake where we promptly grabbed two seats at the restaurant and put back from burgers, fries, and some pastries. The room was available for a little bit still so we sat outside the Kaibab National Forest Ranger Station on picnic tables, soaking up the glorious warmth and blue sky while charging electronics and making phone calls.
Once our room was ready, we were stunned to find truly awesome lodging. For all our times being in this area, I had NO idea how nice the Inn rooms were. Immediately, we grabbed hot showers - our first since Flagstaff. It was fucking amazing to relax.
Plus, I knew we would finish. For all the uncertainties about my knee, we were a mere day’s hike (that we were going to break into 2 days to meet Darren on schedule) from the end. Now, we had time to digest where we had been, what we had seen, and what we had thought. By dinner, we headed back over to the restaurant and ate equally enormous meals, chatting with staff and talking to some local hunters. Back in the hotel room we got to work doing one more cleaning of gear and clothing, plus repackaging food from the store for one last time. Afterwards, we sprawled on the beds and enjoyed watching a few hours of movies.
I was totally relaxed.