5.52 million people visited the Grand Canyon in 2015.
According to our (amazing) guide Brian, less than 5% of the Canyon's visitors venture below the rim.
And less than 1% of visitors stay below the rim overnight.
(I'm not going to even to try to break that down along gender and racial lines.)
But I think it's safe to say...
*** Pre-hike fresh. Tracey (l), Me and Robin (r) ***
Seconds after posting this entry, I'll board a shuttle and head for the north rim of the Grand Canyon. It's really happening. I'm really going.
I've been vascillating between elation and trepidation for the past 48 hours.
We loaded our backpacks yesterday and mine is heavy and awkward and I have no idea how I'm going to haul it across multiple terrains and altitudes.
But I'll figure it out. And I'll make it happen.
Our guide has already done the Rim2Rim ten times this year.
Ten. This year.
So... I will figure it out.
A good friend of mine sent me this beautiful article about reverence and it's direct relationship to the beauty and magnitude of the Grand Canyon. It's a lovely and succinct read. Give it a gander... http://www.spiritualtravels.info/ens-columns/on-the-rim-of-the-canyon/
And I'll see you good folks on the other side of personal accomplishment...
Duct Tape and Jewelry
The trepidation is back.
I think that’s why I’ve had pizza, nachos, chocolate and Chipotle for the past four days.
Side Note: I wrote this blog entry two weeks ago. But posting it, got lost in my To Do list:(
Part of me says, you’re in good shape and everything will be fine. Stop stressing and get excited about this adventure. The other part of me says you’re less than 30 days out, last week’s 33-mile bike ride was more difficult than it should have been, and I’m crazy for signing up for this hike.
So… I had some nachos. And maybe a hard cider or two.
Last Side Note: I'm now less than three weeks out. Aaaagh!
But I got back on track yesterday. Did the stairs at the gym to the tune of the Hamilton soundtrack and got a good sweat on. Yes, I'm the gal at LA Fitness doing the Stairmaster in hiking boots while dancing. Don't judge me. It felt right.
That’s all it takes sometimes. A reminder of how good I feel, post-workout. Plus, I had the Hamilton soundtrack?
The good folks at Wildland Trekking suggest starting out with hour-long hikes, three days per week, with a light day pack. Working up to 6-8 hour hikes with heavy weights. And lots of stairs. Up and down (the ‘negative’ training builds strength as well) with heavy weights.
I haven’t tackled an 8-hour hike yet. And as challenging as the stairs at the Hollywood Bowl were, I did them sans weights. So I’m going hard, these next few weeks.
My friend Deb, the wonderful jewelry designer behind Twisted Silver, did the Rim2Rim in a single day. She cautioned me to begin hydrating several days in advance, pack duct tape and moleskin for imminent blisters and choose trail mix over candy for an energy boost.
I'll pack the Hamilton soundtrack, as well.
From Coffee to Canyon...
I was sharing the logistics of my Rim 2 Rim trip over coffee with a friend a couple of weeks ago. She was taken aback by how complex the process can be. I suppose, because I’ve been in the thick of it for a couple of years now, it didn’t hit me that many people might not know what it takes to make this whole thing happen. So I'll share:)
First, some background…
Hiking from the North to South rim of the Grand Canyon (one of the most popular routes) is a 24-mile journey. 14.3 miles down and 9.6 miles back out. Daily elevation changes can top 4,800 feet (nearly 3 Sears Towers in height) and temperatures fluctuate seasonally with roughly a 20-degree Fahrenheit difference from the bottom of the Canyon to the Rim.
Ready to pack your bags yet?
Depending on the number of days in which you choose to complete the hike (there are some crazy, wonderful, super-fit people who do the entire thing in a day) adventurers generally average 8 to 9 hours of hiking per day, over steep, loose, rocky, and/or exposed terrain.
Backpacking trips require you to carry anywhere from 25-40 pounds of gear and all overnight stays in the Canyon require backcountry permits.
Our first attempt…
My sister, Tracey, has had this hike on her mind for a few years now. And 2016 has always been the target date. We initially planned to make the hike as a trio (Tracey’s friend Robin is our third amiga). We all consider ourselves above average fitness gals. Tracey is a runner, I’m a workout fanatic and Robin has hiked the canyon before. So we figured we’d pick a date, get a permit and make it happen.
Well, permits are doled out based on a number of elements… including the number of requests, the group’s itinerary and the size of the group. The best and earliest time a permit can be requested is four months prior to the month of your start date. Factor in personal schedules, work/vacation days, flight availability and accommodations for three people, and the tangled web of trip coordination begins early.
We also wanted to spend one of our nights at the Phantom Ranch Lodge. Located at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, it is easily one of the most difficult-to-book lodges in the country. Reservation requests begin 13 months out - yes, thirteen - and are only taken by telephone. "Phantom is the only lodging below the canyon rim, and can only be reached by mule, on foot or by rafting the Colorado River."
Hold off on that celebration, though.
The permit fairy came through for June of this year. That’s one of the hottest months to hike the Canyon. How hot is it? The Park Ranger sent us an email that basically said, don’t do this, you could die.
An outfitter company. These one-stop-shops have eons of experience in various Canyon adventures (R2R, whitewater rafting, day hikes, dory excursions and helicopter/hiking combos, to name a few). We chose The Wildland Trekking Company and they take care of securing permits, provide a good portion of the gear (although you’re welcome to use your own) and they even have a standing block of rooms reserved at the Phantom Lodge. Groups are also kept to a maximum of six people.
We so scored:)
It’s a pricier option. But it cuts out a lot of the legwork and red tape and you don’t have to invest in equipment you might never use again. I say, you have to know when to ask for help:)
Now that we've finally dotted all our i's and crossed those pesky t's, here’s our new itinerary:
We've yet to put boot to gravel and this has already been an adventure.
My initial panic has lessened and my excitement grows with each day nearer to our start date:)
For your trivia enjoyment, here are some fun facts about the Grand Canyon.
Courtesy of The Wildland Trekking Company brochure…
The Boots Are Here!
That leaves me clunking around on hardwood floors (the boots are lots-o-rigid right now) to help bend these babies to my will. Literally. Oh, yeah. My downstairs neighbors are LOVING me.
Hoping to get them dirty by next week. They might get a few odd stares among some of the Runyon Canyon fashionistas. Or maybe not. I’ve seen much odder things at Runyon than appropriate footwear.
Like, venti lattes.
It's Getting Real
It was two, possibly three, years ago when my sister initially asked me to hike the Grand Canyon with her. Aside from the camping aspect of the journey (I require few things in this life - but indoor plumbing is usually a deal breaker) it seemed like one of the things I enjoy most... a challenge. As the years passed (acquiring permits and arranging schedules proved more complicated than we anticipated) it still felt very theoretical.
I'm an actress, a writer, a singer, and a move well-er. I love Scrabble, spades and air hockey. And P90X changed my life. But hiking the Grand Canyon is an entirely different beast. If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much space, right? Well, here's to the edge...