|Johnny near the top of the North Kaibab Trail, headed down.|
You did it!!! There are over 4 million visitors to the Grand Canyon annually. Of this total, less than 3% of these visitors actually hike into the Grand Canyon. Fewer yet hike the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim as you just did. You should wear the title of “Rimmer” proudly.Here are some of the bare statistics: We hiked 23.5 miles. We hiked 5,761 feet down to Phantom Ranch, and up 4,370 feet to the top of the South Rim. That is over 10,131 feet of elevation change. That is well over 24,000 steps. Check that on your Fitbit!!
When you wake up Saturday morning, you’ll be very sore and tired from the hike. As you walk around throughout the day, you’ll be doing the “Kaibab Shuffle” or the waddle as I call it. In particular, you’ll find it a challenge to climb up and down steps. No doubt your bus mates on the shuttle will notice your shuffle and assume that you walked from the North Rim to the South Rim all in one day. They will be duly impressed, as should you be!The rest of this post is intended as inspiration or reassurance that you can and will be able to accomplish this hike in real time on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. It’ll help get your mind in the right place regarding our epic hike. Our group has been doing this hike for over 12 years now. By my estimation, we have had over 150 hikers do this hike. Every single one of our hikers has completed the hike under their own power, meaning no one has been evacuated out. I’m sure our upcoming hike will continue this streak.
I start every single RTR hike with a mixture of dread and excitement. I wish that I had trained moreJust to verify the fact that I did make it out, I’ll recount my story for you. With all the difficulty and challenges that I faced, there was still plenty of trail magic, and a Trail Angel did make her appearance to me just when I needed her most.
or prepared better. But I always make it, and so
will you. That’s not to say there won’t
be challenges; For instance, a few hikers have taken more than one day to
complete the trip, and one member of our group (yours truly) did the hike one
year in just over 20 hours (yikes).
|Sunrise on the North Kaibab Trail.|
Here is how it happened: Due to some difficulty with my water bladder I ended up drinking some poorly diluted Gatorade, which made me very nauseous. I spent the rest of the day and night severely dehydrated and unable to take in any nutrition. This made any progress on the trail painfully slow. My good friend Ernie Martinez and his two sons were Trail Angels for me. They walked with me, fixed my water bladder, lifted my spirits, and all but carried me out of the Canyon. Without them, I’m thinking I might have been the first and only evacuee from our hike.Tip #1: When a problem arises, fix it right away. If your water bladder is not working, address the problem now. If you have pebbles in your shoes, stop and take them out. If you’re getting hot spots on your feet, stop and fix it. Remember the old seamstress saying “a stich in time saves 9”. Tip #2: Hike with a buddy, and commit to check with each other frequently on how they’re feeling. A simple “How’s it going?” will usually suffice.
|Rachel Louwsma with her dad, Jim|
Now for my nominee as our Official Rim-to-Rim Trail Angel. Rachel Louwsma has been an integral part of our Rim-to-Rim hikes for several years now. I wouldn’t be able to put on our spaghetti feed without her able help. In addition, she is always willing to shuttle camping gear from North Rim to South Rim for those of us who are camping. This gear shuttle is where my nomination of Official Trail Angel comes in.On that epic 20-hour rim-to-rim hike, Rachel had agreed to carry our camping gear and meet us at the South Rim with it. However, none of us anticipated that we’d get to the top of the South Rim at 2:30 a.m.--20 hours after we started. How in the world were we ever going to find Rachel and our gear? I didn’t know which lodge Rachel was staying at.
The first lodge we approached was the Bright Angel Lodge. I asked the desk clerk if by some chance Rachel was registered there. He told me no. I consider it divine providence, and maybe some trail magic, that somehow through their system I was able to find out which hotel Rachel was located at. Within minutes I was connected with Rachel’s room and heard the most angelic voice on the other end of the line saying “Johnny is that you.”Believe me when I tell you that even now, as I write this, I can hear her magical voice. Ok, maybe I even have a tear in my eye. Within minutes, Rachel picked us up in her car and delivered us to Mather Campground. Despite all our challenges, Ernie, Joshua, Luke, Nathaniel and I made it rim-to-rim all in a day, thanks to our Trail Angel Rachel.
See you at the North Rim.Chef Johnny