I survived and am home! Sooo, how’d I’d do, did I complete what I set out to do??? Yes and no…and I’m a little disappointed, but extremely proud of myself for completing my first Rim2Rim…yep, you read that correctly, I’m missed the hike back up to the North Rim. I’m sure some of you who follow me on social media wondered “what happened to the other 2R.”
Who all went, how’d the day go, would I do it again, let’s get to the good stuff! Wednesday morning myself, my friend Kim, Mandi and Brittany all met up in the great city that is Phoenix (although I think Scottsdale may be more my speed if I’m actually staying in the area), and headed north, making our first stop in Sedona for a hike and some fantabulous food, then it was off to the North Rim, where we’d stay in Page for the evening.
At 5:30am on Thursday morning, 29 degrees, we all headed out together, down the North Rim, with our sights on the South Rim. Many of you wondered how Brittany made it on the hike less than 36 hours after treatment – that girl is amazing, and went 5 miles in with us…a strenuous 5 miles in, at a steep grade down. At Roaring Springs Kim and I would say our goodbyes and be on our way to the other side, and she and Mandi would start their way back up
To try and explain to you the colors, the variations of terrain and vegetation as you descend in and across something this massive is something I will never be able to fully convey – I was in awe at every view along the way, one bend was more breathtaking than the next.
We knew what to anticipate, where we needed to be to each point by and we may have been a little behind schedule due to the photos we kept stopping to take along the way. Every hour we’d stop to eat one of our quick energy bites/chews/blocks and chug a hydration or performance mixture of fluids – I’d researched what was mandatory in order to make this a success.
13.3 miles in we’d find ourselves at Phantom Ranch, it was about 92 degrees at this point. the only place to stay on the Canyon Floor. I’d read I could do a little something fun for the kids from this location, mail them postcards that would be delivered to the post office by Mule (this is the only way to get things in and out of the Canyon), and I grabbed myself an expensive glass of lemonade, which was a lovely change…after all of that, it was on to the Colorado and the ascent would start up the South Rim, 9.8 miles.
The walk across the Colorado was amazing!!! I think it may have been one of my most favorite viewpoints in the Canyon. Kim and I were feeling really good at this point, no problem, we can do this…and then the last 4.7 miles were upon us and things were becoming challenging (by the way – there are no warning signs on the North Rim – there are warning signs all over the South Rim due to the amount of tourists that visit). I did not take many photos from the Colorado up to the top – my energy needed to be reserved for getting out.
We walked through trails of sand, water, mud and rock…along with makeshift stairs. The last 3 miles were grueling, with the last 1.5 miles being the worst (i cannot explain how challenging it is, it’s a complete mental game, because your body is pooped!)…the tourists could tell we were pooped and after the .9mile mark we’d run into several asking if we were “coming back up from going to the river”…the look on their faces when we said “no, we started at the North Rim” was one of amazement – several told us we could do this and were so encouraging as we asked about how much further did they think we had, and the lovely woman at the top who took our pic, was so nice, she got all different angles for us without having to ask once she’d found out what we’d accomplished- only 1% of the visitors to the Grand Canyon actually see the Canyon the way we did.
At what point did I know I wasn’t going to be able to make it back across?? Somewhere between the 3 mile and 1.5 mile mark – you see, the joint pain I get from chemo with extreme activities (an after effect that may eventually go away with time), had set in by this point big time. I was using my hiking sticks to support a lot of my weight, and it literally felt like I had a knife in the side of both of my knee joints. If you’ve had chemo, you possibly know what I’m referring to. I knew it would take up to 5 days for it to resolve itself, and for me to go back in the next day was something I shouldn’t consider since the only way out of the Grand Canyon, is to do so with your own two legs – “going down is optional, coming up is mandatory”.
13 hours later, and I’d crossed the Grand Canyon from North Rim to South Rim, 6,000 feet in elevation down to the Colorado, 4,500 feet in elevation up to the top of the South Rim, just over 24 miles total…it’s something I never thought I would have been doing a year ago the day I started the hike, as I was struggling to pick my head up off the pillow after treatment #5. The ladies that went on this trip with me are special for one reason or another – each holds a very important place in my heart.
Will I do it again, you bet I will! Do I think I’ll ever be able to do the full Rim2rim2rim, honestly, I’m just not sure…and I’m not one to say “no”, but at this point in time, my body can only handle a Rim2rim and I’m MORE than good with it! It was a trek of a lifetime and one that I plan on doing several more times, because it was THAT amazing!
**this is not something to just go and do – extensive training, preparation and research is needed before taking on a rim2rim – it is highly discouraged by the park due to fact that you have to get yourself out of the Canyon yourself**