Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Grand Adventure...AKA Not for the Faint of Heart

This past Saturday I did what I do on many Saturdays. I went for a hike.

Only this hike was a little different. This hike started at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

And ended at the North Rim.

I have to say that even with all my preparation I was still very nervous. I went with a group of people from work, many of whom have already completed this hike. I have to say one of my FAVORITE (insert sarcasm) conversations with one of my co-hikers was with the nice gentleman who reminded me that in parts of the hike there is a 4000 foot sheer drop.

He said that if you fall they don't bother looking for you because you'll be in pieces anyway.

YES!!! Just what I needed to hear just before this hike!! Made me feel SOOOO much better!!

So, understandably, I got very little sleep the night before.

I was up at 3:00 a.m. getting ready and we got to the South Kaibab trailhead at about 5. It was already light out so I did not need by headlamp. As we descended into the Canyon, we were treated to some spectacular views. This was really a treat!!

And we hiked down on switchbacks that looked like this......

And as we were strolling down to the bottom, I was thinking we need a little excitement to make this REALLY worth our while. So, I provided some entertainment. I gave the group a little display of my ever stunning grace. In other words....er...hmmmm......I fell. It wasn't just a little trip. No....no.....I had to make it good. It was a doozy. I twisted my ankle and scrapped my knee up pretty good. Luckily, I had several fellow hikers around me who were experts at dealing with stressful situations......and providing top notch first aid. I got assistance with a makeshift gauze, tape, and bandaid knee wrap, and one of my fellow hikers offered up his trekking pole. Very gallant!! (BTW, I will not go on another long hike without at least one of these again). And then off I went.... Someone asked me later if I was going to continue to hike. My thought was......did I have a choice. There are after all only three ways out....mule, helicopter, hike. Not fond off mules and helicopter=$$$$$. So, as long as I could walk I would be leaving the canyon on my own two feet!!!

Anyways, as we were heading to Phantom Ranch, I was telling the group how my husband was going to meet me at Ribbon Falls.

"What time is he leaving?" someone asked.

"5 a.m."

"He is going to get there long before you do."

Now I should have clued in on this statement and realized one very important thing.....my husband is not a patient man. If I had done this, what happened next would not have been a surprise. As we were approaching Phantom Ranch, I saw a familiar figure coming towards us. And then I got this sinking feeling. My husband and his friend, Tony, hiked from the North Rim all the way to Phantom Ranch. 14 MILES!!!!! And they had to go 14 miles out....with a woman with a bum ankle!!!! This was going to be interesting, or so I thought. It actually was not bad at all.

After stopping at Phantom, soaking my foot in the stream and refilling my water, we headed off. This was really my favorite part. I had done a lot of studying prior to this hike and read that this section could be torture due to the sweltering heat inside the canyon. But we were very fortunate. The weather was very pleasant. Overcast and mild. We got rained on a bit for the next seven miles. It was very nice!! I loved this portion though because it was like walking through a peaceful valley. Very green with the stream running along the trail.

We stopped to take a picture along one of the many bridges along the way. NOTE: The very lovely bandaged left knee!!!

After about seven miles of this type of scenery.....came hell. Or so that is what I was told. Was it difficult? Hell yeah!! But as I described it later it was kind of like labor. You forget about the pain shortly after it is over. So we trudged on slowly taking breaks. As Tony said it was not a race.

I will say I did find the elevation a little unnerving at times. I had been told there were some really narrow areas along the trail and that it was a sheer drop. One part of that was not really true. The trail was not as narrow as I thought it was going to be. The narrowest point was about 4 feet. That wasn't really bad.

There was, however, a sheer drop. As I trudged upward, I looked over towards the edge a couple of times. I think it was on the second glance I decided that I would NOT be doing this again. Yes....it wasn't the distance nor the gazillion switchbacks that made me say "I am never doing this again ." No siree!!! It was my fear of heights. Yep....I think once is enough.

And just to give you an idea of the drop....I took a picture. I wanted to put an arrow to point out the trail but since I'm photoshop illiterate that wasn't going to happen. So if you look at the right side, about half way up, you'll see what I'm saying. See the wall....see the drop.....hmmm...yeah!!

Anyways, I think the last two miles were the hardest. I don't know if it was just because I knew we were so close. Or if I was just tired from my lack of sleep. Or maybe, it was the mule trail we were stuck behind stopping every 100 feet or so, and leaving deposits along the way. YUCK!! Whatever it was......it took forever!!!! It made getting to the end so much sweeter!!!

When I finished all I could think about was a shower, food, and a margarita!!! We stayed at the North Rim Lodge. OMG!! What a beautiful place!! This was the view from the dining room. Can you believe it!?! AWESOME!!!

Oh....and I also surveyed the damage my body took from the fall. WARNING: People who are freaked out at the sight of feet may not want to look....

Here's what my knee looked like the next day. Hmmmm....not too bad. Considering all the blood gushing out of it the prior day.

And this is the ankle.....The picture was taken on our drive back the next day. Yep....hiked about 17 miles on this beauty. Needless to say, I spent the next two days with my feet up and lots of ice packs!!!!

I'm glad I did it but I'm also glad it's over. Time to start training for the next endeavor.

Hmmm....Seven Summit Challenge in November......We'll see.

1 comment:

carlene federer said...

WOW, rim to rim? I am seriously impressed and totally bow to your hiking superiority, lol! Very cool, good for you! Hiking is almost as much mind as body huh?