Part 3: A Photographic Journey through the Grand Canyon

You took a chance on Part 1… you stuck through Part 2… may as well sit through Part 3!

In all seriousness, there is no way I could have fit everything I wanted to say about the Grand Canyon into just one video. It was a big project for me to take on (and honestly way more work than I thought it would be), but at the end of the day I am grateful to have the best souvenir ever – the memories. While I certainly make my videos to share with others, I know my biggest fan will always be “future Mandy”, the one who will thank me in 20 years.

And now for the stunning conclusion in the 3rd and final installment of my Grand Canyon trilogy! (I’m sure you’ve all figured out by now that I survived, right?)

Vlog #29: A Photographic Journey through the Grand Canyon: Part 3

Final thoughts & tips



If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the Parks & Rec department, it’s the necessity to “treat yo’ self” every now and then!

And the best way to do that in the bottom of the Grand Canyon? A steak dinner. But be forewarned, if this is something that interests you, plan far in advance, especially during busy seasons. The cabins have a lottery and book up over a year in advance, and the dinners book up weeks ahead of time. Luckily Kendrick and I were going in the middle of the week during the low season, so we were able to snag the last two steak dinners two weeks in advance.

But no matter what you decide – don’t forget to reward yourself for doing what only 1% of visitors to the Grand Canyon do – make it to the bottom.


I can’t tell you how often I get the question about how I keep clean on the road. I promise I will do a full video blog about showering and pooping… I’ll get to it one day, I swear! But I can tell you it’s quite a bit different when you are backpacking.

In my day-to-day road-life, I always count on my go-to soap for everything, REDBUDSUDS. (seriously, shampoo, soap, shaving… everything!) But when you are backpacking, you typically don’t have the luxury of carrying soap and bathing in safe, leave-no-trace water.


I have been an avid consumer of baby wipes for quite some time. They are great for a quick clean up – but they are small and I often have to use 2 or 3. So when I discovered a product actually geared at adults who stink, I was stoked! Shower Pouch is basically a large (12″x24″) wet towel (3x thicker than a baby wipe)! When I opened the very small and easy to carry pouch, I discovered a large and surprisingly wet towel. In fact, it is so moist the Kendrick and I could almost share one (of course we are lower maintenance than most). The towels gave us a quick bath that we could easily pack out with the rest of our trash.

If you want to check them out, go to their website and use the code “Mandy” for 30% off your order.


Creating these 3 episodes of our adventure has allowed me time to fully reflect on the experience. At the end of the day, I came to the same conclusions I alway do:


  • Challenge yourself. Does it scare you? Good. Now remind yourself that fear is not an excuse, but rather a reason. Facing our fears is one of the best ways to grow.
  • Learn from your hardships. You’re going to mess up. You’re going to forget something, do something wrong, fail. Don’t waste this opportunity, learn from it.
  • Look Up. It’s easy to become so focused on completing the difficult parts of the journey that we forget to enjoy it. Look up, look around, appreciate it.
  • Treat Yo’ Self. I have the bad habit of thinking I don’t deserve things, but remember we each live one fleeting life, and we should celebrate ourselves.
  • Be Present. I am a huge proponent of documenting your experiences, but don’t get so caught up in it that you forget to live the moment with those you are with.


Each of the following images was featured in the video in the chronological moment they were actually taken.


Well, until the next adventure…

With support from nüCamp RV | Princess Craft RV3 Legged Thing | Hoodman | Schneider OpticsNikon | Mindshift GearWestcott | Urban Hair | Precision Camera | Bear Claw Carpentry



  1. Reply

    Bill & Lynn Johnson Silver Shadow

    March 19, 2018

    Just Wow! What a fantastic journey into the unknown with just great folks like you two! I so thoroughly enjoyed being able to see this part of the Grand Canyon with you both. I have been stopping off at the south rim since I was very young off and on since 1949 through today and have always wondered what was out of reach for me. Now that I have the time, I no longer have the ability to make such a journey as yours. Thank you both ever so much of giving me the chance to come along and see what I have been missing for so very long. Thank you, thank you, thank you…..
    You are the best!
    Hugs, bill

    • Reply

      Mandy Lea Photo

      March 20, 2018

      Aw Bill… it is my honor to bring these visions to you. Truly, people like you make all my effort worth it. See you soon!

      • Reply

        Bill & Lynn Johnson Silver Shadow

        March 20, 2018

        We are looking forward to seeing you both soon.

  2. Reply


    March 19, 2018

    Thank you for the wonderful and spectacular trip. I especially liked seeing the deer and Condors. Did you see any other animals while on your journey?

    • Reply

      Mandy Lea Photo

      March 20, 2018

      We actually saw very little wildlife. The coolest thing we saw was a herd of mountain goats (canyon goats?) – but they were so fast that they were gone by the time I could get my camera out. Aside from that it was just deer, mice and lizards.

  3. Reply

    John Southworth

    March 20, 2018

    I was wondering how you snagged the steak dinners without reserving them FAR ahead of time. Back in the Dark Ages (1995) me and a buddy hiked down to Phantom Ranch to celebrate turning 50. Even then we had to reserve a bunk and a steak a full year in advance. Arrived in late May. Funny you should mention the MULES. I recall gingerly trying to side-step the mule crap but after a couple of miles you give up and slog on through it. Congrats on your Expedition.

    • Reply

      Mandy Lea Photo

      March 20, 2018

      The meals are a little easier to get – especially because we were going in the winter in the middle of the week, their slow season. We didn’t stay in cabin or take mules so that was easy.

  4. Reply

    Roger Levesque

    March 20, 2018

    Thanks for sharing your adventure.

    • Reply

      Mandy Lea Photo

      March 20, 2018

      Thanks for watching Roger!

  5. Reply

    Rodney McKnight

    March 20, 2018

    Thanks so much for these Vlogs Mandy. I rode down to phantom ranch on a mule with my parents in 1971. It was actually scary riding those guys as they would stop to rest with half their bodies hanging over the cliffs. I realize now how much I missed…being a 17 yo just wanting to be back home with my girlfriend…I missed the beauty of it all. Thanks for the adventure!!!

    • Reply

      Mandy Lea Photo

      March 21, 2018

      I did the same when I was a teenager! You know what they say… “Youth is wasted on the Young…”

  6. Reply


    March 21, 2018

    Such a nice bow on the present of my mule ride to Phantom this week. Love your photos, and your experiences!

  7. Reply


    March 26, 2018

    Fantastic. I’m so happy for you both. Congratulations and hugs!

  8. Reply


    May 24, 2018

    Thank you so much for this! Brings back so many fond memories of my years at NAU and teaching on the rez 30-40 years ago. Backpacking was cheap in those days so we did it as often as possible. Not nearly so grueling (!) but tough Canyon hikes just the same. One of my favorites was down the New Hance, across the Tonto and up the Grandview. The Hance is like walking on marbles, we busted our asses several times. And thank goodness I always packed moleskin and molefoam and took a couple aspirin before the hike down. We also used to pack fresh food for the hike down and across and freeze dried for the hike out. No tech for us, just a topo map, compass, SLR and tiny tripod. Favorite short hike below the rim is down Grandview to a saddle with a great spot under the trees to enjoy the view and lose the crowd up top. Great read: Death in the Canyon. Next time check out the Paria, Buckskin and Wave…my birthday trip, Thanksgiving 1980! So glad I found your blog! Thinking of selling my house, buying a teardrop and hitting the road…just need to convince the husband..haha.

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