When he was a teenager growing up in the northeastern United States, Clark Phillips had an experience that stayed with him for life.
“I went on a one-day trip on a mule partly down into the Grand Canyon,” he said last week.
Now established as a chiropractor in Redwood Falls, Clark decided it was time to take his son Ryan on a similar trip — and to up the ante a bit. They went on a two-day mule trip all the way to the bottom.
“Millions of people want to take this trip. I had to make the reservation on July 1, 2012, a year ahead, to get us spots,” said Clark.
Clark emphasized he wanted to make the trip in part because the Grand Canyon’s geology provides evidence that refutes currently accepted scientific views of evolution and a strictly non-Biblical worldview.
The trip was on July 1 and 2, and this specific trip down the south rim included two wranglers, and 11 “dudes” from across the United States.
“It took about five hours for us to get to the bottom, a little over a mile in height,” said Clark.
“It was very hot, a really harsh environment, We went during a heat wave,” said Ryan. “It was 120 degrees at the bottom. I was surprised at the amount of water we had to drink.”
Ryan, who is in cross country and track in school, said, “I tried going for a run, and could only make it five minutes. It’s a very dry heat though, so I wasn’t sweating at all.”
Nevertheless, when they arrived at the bottom of the canyon they rested by the Colorado River.
“When we put our feet in the river, the water was really, really cold,” said Clark.
“We got to enjoy the view because the mule does all the work,” said Ryan. “The guides know everything. They were kind of harsh at first, but they kept you going.”
He found out a harsh guide was an okay thing to have if you have the wrong mule.
“I had the stupid mule of the group, the social outcast. He would take nips at the other mules.”
Clark said, “You want to keep your mule close to the next one. Mules are herd animals and if they get too far away from each other, they start to run.”
On a narrow path not much wider than the mule itself, with a hundred foot drop on one side, having an antsy mule was not a fun experience.
“The mules are walking with their hooves only a foot from the edge, and sometimes your foot is hanging right out over the edge,” said Ryan.
Page 2 of 2 - Mules are chosen for the rides in part because of the shape of their skulls.
“Their eyeballs are different then a horses, further out from the skull,” said Clark. “They can see all four of their hooves at the same time, which makes them very-sure footed.
“Mules have been given a bad rap. We’re told they’re stubborn, but what they really are is stronger, more surefooted, more intelligent than horses. You can’t get a mule to do something dangerous.”
At the bottom of the Grand Canyon the Phillips stayed overnight at Phantom Ranch.
“They said the cabins were air conditioned, but they were built in the 1920s, and leaked excessively,” laughed Ryan.
The trip back up the next day took longer and went up a steeper trail, but Clark was glad for the change — he said it’s a lot easier to spend hours leaning back than leaning forward.
In addition to the Grand Canyon, the Phillips visited Las Vegas, the Hoover Dam, and Monument Valley.
Nevertheless, the Grand Canyon made the biggest impression on Ryan.
“It’s way bigger than I thought it was,” he laughed.