Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Grand Canyon - Rim to Rim

I survived Doomsday 2011....barely.
What were we thinking???
The day I almost died.
The day I wanted to die.
The Pain and the Glory.
Duct tape.  My new best friend.

Just a few other titles I was throwing around.    But man, what a day!  And so fitting that it was the big predicted "Doomsday", because for a while there at the end I was sure it really was my Doomsday.  I knew it was going to be hard.  I was expecting hard.  And honestly, I was feeling pretty good until those last three miles.  Which also happen to be the steepest part.  And I was already beyond my limit.  Here I am, wanting to cry and die.....

I tried to go to a happy place in my mind, but there was no happy, only deep and dark, but for the glimmer of a shiny diet Coke at the end of a looooong tunnel.  I had to reach deep, my friends.  But I triumphed in the end.  And here today to blog about it.

But let's start back at the very beginning.

I've always wanted to hike the Grand Canyon.  I've stood at the top a time or two as a kid, but I don't remember it.  I have felt like a disgrace to my state for never really experiencing this Natural Wonder of the World that is right in my backyard.  So it's been on my bucket list.
Then a few months ago I overheard Emily talking about putting this trip together and invited ourselves.  I heard 'Grand Canyon' and 'hike', and really had no clue what 'rim to rim' entailed, until it was too late to back out & save face. 
It's 25 miles!  And half of it's uphill!  And all in one day!!!

But I had to do it.

Here we all are at the top of the trail.  North rim.
So fresh and perky.
The temperature swing was crazy.  About 30 degrees up top, to 80's at the bottom.


Jared & Michelle Cox

Greg & Jacqui Arnett

Eric & Jonni (Jacqui's sister), who came down from Utah.

Ryan & Pam Brown, who were the only smart ones, who hiked down a couple miles, then turned around & went back up, then drove the car around to pick us up.

And for some reason I didn't get a picture of Ben & Emily LeSueur.

So that was our group.  Some of them we didn't really know before this trip, but are now forever bonded.

The first part was so fun.  We were all so psyched & chatty & so glad to get going.  So ready to tackle this beast.

Lots of little bridges.

And spectacular views.
I was always falling behind, trying to take pictures.

The rice-paddy hat.

And yes, there are alot of pictures of Brian's backside.

We took pretty frequent rest stops to eat to keep up our energy.

About 14 miles to the very bottom.  To Phantom Ranch.  There's a lodge & rental cabins & bathrooms & a place where you can get cold lemonade, but not much else.  We sat & ate our lunches.  A smashed, day-old PB & J never tasted so good!

Brian's look here says,  "I can't believe I let you talk me into doing this.  I could be skiing right now.  I never really wanted to do this in the first place.  I was hoping you would get sick or something so we could back out.  *#a*g$#!!"

Then back on the trail.
A mere 10 or so miles to go.

Crossing the mighty Colorado.

We came across things like caves....

....and pretty watering holes....

...and lots of cactus, and fairly large lizards, and chipmunks, and bats when it was starting to get dark, and lots of foreigners.  Probably half of all the fellow hikers we came across were from another country.  A Polish couple, a pack of Chinese guys, people from Colombia & Guatemala & Switzerland & France.

Greg gave us hourly altitude reports.

I think this was called Indian Springs.  Our last real watering hole.

Only 4.5 miles to go.  Which doesn't sound like alot when you've already gone 20.  And I was hanging in there pretty good.  I was excited to finish it up.  But little did I know that those last few miles would seem like a hundred!
And it didn't help that I had some major chafing issues, in places where the sun don't shine, and Bodyglide & Vaseline & moleskin couldn't cut it anymore.  It was time for the last resort. 
It was time for the Duct Tape.
And blessedly, it did not disappoint.

By the way, every sign at the Grand Canyon says  DO NOT attempt to hike rim to rim in one day!

Almost to the end!

It's quite amazing to look back at what you've accomplished.
I wish I knew how to draw arrows on my pictures to point at where we started our hike that morning.  It's that farthest back ridge you see.  The top of it.  The camera doesn't really do it justice.  It looked way more than 25 miles.  It looks like you just hiked through half of Arizona!  Such a sense of accomplishment.  And relief that it was almost over!
But it wasn't over yet.  And I really struggled those last 2 miles.  I must have been dehydrated.  I was light-headed & kind of out of it.  Greg gave me alot of pep talks to keep me going.  And Michelle kept me from teetering off the edge.  And just as it was getting completely dark, we went up our last switchback to the top.

I have never been so sore in my life as I was the following 2 days.

But Brian & I are both so glad we did it.

In fact, I would totally do it again.
The agony of it is already fading in my memory.
Just like childbirth.


Michelle said...

I will shoot myself later...but I'm going to say it. It's on my bucket list, too. I want to do it. Please take me with you if you do it again.
Emily and my sister are BFF's from the womb. Did you know that? My mom and her mom were BFF's during their early mommy years. I love the Porter family.
Let's get together soon... I want to hear more about it. Like - what kind of training did you do to get ready for it??
And I should have said this - first. CONGRATS! YOU ARE MY HERO!! What an AWESOME thing to check off your list!! :)
Love you...

ellen said...

That's amazing! And your photos are great. My parents met at the north rim of the Grand Canyon; working in the summer during college (doing dishes/cleaning toilets).

teamkc said...

Congrats! You are A.W.E.S.O.M.E. I've always wanted to do it, too, and after reading this (especially the end)...I am going to do day!

johnsonteammom said...

I'm going to ditto everything Michelle said. I cannot wait to do it myself.

Nashina and Nate Jagielski said...

Wow! I have always loved your blog. You are so dynamic...your a great mother, talented photographer, very laid-back, yet totally got it together, and I just love your "realness" and zest for life. This is an amazing accomplishment. How inspiring! ( I live in Idaho hubby and I do a lot of hiking all over! Grand Canyon- watch out!)

shawni said...

I know I would probably die, and you made me well aware that it's tough, but still you somehow made me WANT to do that! Maybe it was the beautiful pictures...


Leigh said...

You are a rockstar for sure! Is it sick and wrong that I want to hike that now??

deb duty said...

Wow! I'm so impressed! I visited the grand canyon with my husband and two boys two years ago and we loved it. We hiked down each morning and came back up before lunch and even that was difficult. While I was there I bought the book Death in the Grand Canyon which tells the account of people who attempted what you did and didn't make it - usually because they got off the trail and got lost or they didn't bring enough water. It really was a wonderful vacation. We would do it more often if we didn't have to drive 26 hours to get there! Thank you for taking me back with your beautiful photos.

Lisa Harris said...

First of all, congrats! that is a huge deal to conquer.
Second, I am so jealous you got to spend time with one of my bf's from dental school. The Badgers. Jonni and Eric are incredible quality friends.

Annie said...

That was amazing! Incredible photos, too; it *almost* makes me want to give it a try (but then you mentioned chafing...) Well done!

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