In 2013 and epic throw down was dreamed up by a few friends in Arkansas. The task? Hike the Grand Canyon…South rim to North rim…in a day(R2R). For 3 in our group, it was to hike the south to north, to south(R2R2R).
For me, this was a 25 year old dream that was hatched as a college girl pact. Back in 1980-something, my friend Sherry and I decided that we would hike the Grand Canyon together before we turned 50. To this day we still don’t know how the Grand Canyon came about, but we never forgot the pact. So, fresh on the 50 train and experiencing mutual hot flashes, Sherry and I decided it had to be done.
After a year of training on meager hills in Arkansas, 17 of us made the trip to “The Big Ditch”. For most, if not all, we were crossing a major item off our bucket list.
We split into 3 groups for the challenge.
First Group (Now that’s just crazy)…Jeff and friends Bill and wife Kendra were doing the R2R2R and left at 1AM. Their plan was to run as much as possible.
Second Group (Damaged but not defeated)…Myself, Sherry and Paul. We were speed hiking the R2R and left at 5:45AM. We were the damaged group that had experienced some sort of injury just prior to the event.
Third Group (Mildly insane)…The remainder of the group whose plan was to run the R2R. They left at 7AM.
My experience was one that I will never forget. Starting off just before dawn, we descended down the Bright Angel trail with headlamps on. As we looked further down we could see other headlamps of hikers who got up earlier than we did.
We had a sliver of moon and an abundance of stars which kept us captivated and company for the first hour. We stopped often to take in the silent and the simple beauty of the moment.
As the sun started to rise, sides of the canyon started to glow, changing colors with every step. Each elevation of the GC has different layers of rock. A new color spectrum to reveal. Everywhere we looked the view was breathtaking. It was hard to watch our footing while taking in the site of it all.
The GC is a unique hike in that you start at 6860 ft of elevation and descend down to 2480 ft. As we headed down to the depths of the canyon, breathing became easier. At the bottom of canyon is Phantom Ranch. It was a welcome sight after 4 1/2 hours of hiking. We refueled and headed out across the bottom of the canyon that traversed tributary rivers the feed into the Colorado river.
Then…the assent climbing back up to 8241 ft elevation to the North Rim Trailhead. As the sun sets it created another kaleidoscope of color on the canyon walls. It was a sight to behold and one I will never forget. The last 4 1/2-5 hours was a steady uphill climb of switch backs and cliff gripping trails.
I was in awe every step from the south rim to north. It is not a view everyone gets to see and we consider ourselves blessed to have the health, strength and desire to take on the challenge.
I’m happy that I got to do this experience with my husband and my friends.
What can I say about this hike? It was epic. The hardest thing I have ever done. The fulfillment of a couple of college schoolgirls dreams.