Welcome back to The Rim To River And Back!
It’s time to play $25,000 Pyramid! Ready? GO!
Don’t do it!
You can’t be this stupid!
Answer? Things Rob ignores when hiking!
DING DING DING DING DING!
And now back to your sensible scheduled programming.
Somehow, Rob got it into his head that we were going to hike the Grand Canyon. Not just a casual hike to explore beyond the parking lot of the beautiful South Rim, but the full “rim to river and back”
death march hike, trekking 6.3 miles down to the river via the South Kaibab Trail, 1.7 miles across the River Trail, followed by 7.8 miles UP the Bright Angel Trail back to civilization. No need to ask Siri what the total damage is, I’ll tell you: it’s 15.8 miles (25.4 km). In one day. In the desert heat. The warning signs could basically start off with, “Hey, Stupid, why not just shoot yourself and get it over with!”
So why didn’t Rob think we’d end up being 2 out of the average 12 people who die there each year, like this woman who simply stepped out of someone’s way on the path, or this guy who just tried to get his hat, or this woman who had run the Boston marathon in under 3 hours yet died of dehydration on this fun day-hike?
Well, first of all, we’re super fit (not as fit as your average marathoner, mind you, though I imagine brighter). I’ve learned to say that without feeling boastful because I’ve been accused of false modesty every time I say we’re only “pretty” fit. I mean, we’re fitness instructors. Our idea of a good time is spending 3 hours in a gym doing push-ups with weight plates on our backs, pull-ups with dumbbells between our feet, and treadmill incline intervals holding 40 pounds over our head. You should see our parties! (If you’re ever lucky enough to be invited to our party, you’ll be treated to drinks, snacks, and Bryan coaching you through suspended plank extensions on gymnastic rings while Rob times the whole thing. Everyone who attends the party gets to try for one minute, so it will probably be your turn again in two or three minutes.)
Secondly, we had done big hikes before. Well, once. The Mt. Robson hike in BC was 40 km and goes from summer to winter in elevation and is meant to be a multi-day camping trip. We did it in 8 hours.
And thirdly, we did this hike on a perfectly overcast, mid-teens (Celsius) day in early March when heat and dehydration were not a concern, though you may still need a physio post-hike, and a relationship counselor.
That being said, don’t do this hike. We’re setting a bad example just by chronicling this adventure here that could very well have ended up a poorly-acted dramatization on 1000 Ways to Die. So do the sensible thing instead: book the Phantom Ranch ahead of time so you can spend a night at the base before heading up the next day. Your knees will thank you. The people on call to rescue your dumb ass should you decide to do this hike and get into trouble will thank you. But your relationship counselor will not thank you because you and your partner actually got along instead of yelling, “Why are we doing this?” and “Why can’t you just wait a minute?” and “Stop eating all the Brazil nuts out of the trail mix!”
So, without further adieu, our hike, as told in video and Instagram pics, which should be much more interesting than reading yet another travel blog. (Ugh, everyone’s a travel blogger these days, right? Be sure to like and follow on all our social media channels! 🙂 🙂 🙂 )
TripDinks Trip Video
TripDinks Trip Pics
“Your mission, whether or not you accept it, is to hike down to the river and back up in one day,” said Rob to Bryan. So there’s BJ, begrudgingly heading down the steep switchbacks with Rob far behind waiting for “the shot.” “Got it!” Rob bellowed from above before hurrying along, juggling 2 cameras and 2 walking sticks while carrying enough water and trail mix to feed a small village. “Coming!”
“And why are we doing this again?” bemoaned a beleaguered BJ. “Because it’s fun,” Rob said, matter-of-factly through short breaths. “Your idea of fun is not most people’s idea of fun. Did you see the sign back there warning how many people die doing this in one day?” “Yeah, but it’s overcast, we’re fine!” Rob retorted, stabbing his poles gleefully through the dry, red earth. “There’s no talking to you when you’re like this. It’s like you’re mainlining.” “Then hiking is my heroin.” …
“Hey, honeyB, hold it right there!” Of course, Bryan wasn’t wrong. Death felt imminent at every turn; at least it felt that way if you looked down (hence, BJ holding on to the mountain to pose for this shot.) But where were the tourists? Other hikers? How did we have the whole trail to ourselves? We still don’t know. But there’s nothing like being alone on a mountain hike with an ever present sense of danger to give one a little perspective. “Ok, got it!” …
Unfortunately, up until this point, Bryan wasn’t overly impressed. Granted, we had already done some amazing and more challenging hikes, especially in the Rockies where there’s a new waterfall or canyon or whole mountain range around every bend. But because you hike down the Grand Canyon instead of up, there really are no surprises. You see pretty much everything you did when you started, you just get closer. BUT, you’re still not prepared for how red things get. Like, really red. (And my #olympusep1 definitely picked up on all that red!) And the closer you get to the river the further you get from expectations. And it’s awesome…
And then you catch a glimpse of your goal and even get a little spring in your step for the river is nigh! At this point, bones are aching, hips and knees are creaking, and you feel a special empathy for the Tin Man needing an oil can. Going down, of course, is much harder on the body than going up, and you’re descending over 10 km with an elevation change of 1480m. Rob was very glad he brought those hiking poles! …
About every 3 steps I want to stop and set up the camera to take a pic of us. But if we did that, we wouldn’t get anywhere, let alone through 2 big hikes in a day. But a nice spot opened up where we could sit and refuel and just take in the scenery. Aaand set up the camera to take a picture of us! …
Down, down, down we went. Just when you think you’ve arrived, there’s another series of switchbacks! But now the only thing piercing the peaceful, meditative hike – aside from the scraping of your shoes and sharp, steadying stabs of your hiking poles – is the gentle roar of the rushing river below growing bigger and more insistent with every step. So exciting! …
Aaand we made it! It truly was awesome in every sense of the word. The accomplishment of getting there on your own two feet, the grandeur of the place, not a soul around, and the sheer glee of crossing the suspension bridge. We loved it! Rob, still bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, sang Joni Mitchell and spouted cliches about feeling so small in the canyon and the universe while BJ worried about getting back before the sun set: “We’re gonna get stuck out here in the dark!” “Bah, we’ve got lots of time. ‘I’m gonna teach my feet to flyyyyyy, oh I wish I had a river’…Oh let’s take another pic!” But no time to waste, mind you, for another 12-mile hike waited to take us out of the canyon. We shook the dirt out of our shoes, had a banana, some trail mix, half a muffin, and lots of life-quenching agua, and pushed on. …
Paradise, on the rocks, with a twist. The Bright Angel Trail is much different than the South Kaibab. Greener, wetter, flatter, and more tourists. They had stayed the night at one of the campgrounds by the river, most likely descending the steeper Kaibab the previous day and ascending Angel in the morning. Most hobbled along, probably sore from the trek down – bring your hiking poles, people – looking very surprised at the effort and a little worried about getting back before sundown. It’s a strenuous event that kills people every year. You definitely have to train for it. We don’t have that many pics of this section because we too had to stay focused on the climb. But we have enough that I could go on and on about it but I gotta wrap up this story already. Bryan wanted to post this one because it showed the scale more than the others. It seems that many think they can just start walking the Canyon as if it’s no big deal. But like all grand things in nature, if you lack respect and humility, you might pay the ultimate price. #duhduhduhhh …
TGIO! Thank God it’s over! Because Bryan’s right about the part that it’s boring because the scenery doesn’t really change. Especially as you ascend the Bright Angel Trail, the only interesting thing to look at is how far you’ve come. And in this pic, it’s way way way at the back and down that ominous crack in the world. Finishing a hike like this is a surreal mix of accomplishment, gratitude, and relief we didn’t get injured or worse. And relief you don’t have to go any further. And relief that you can finally sit and order a beer! Back at the lodge, we saw many people who were injured, either limping or in crutches. This is a serious hike with many dangers. I can’t stress enough that no one should do it. Would we do it again? No. Are we glad we did it? Absolutely! And we can’t wait for the next ridiculously long hike that we shouldn’t do. 😉
I think the big test of any relationship is how well you travel together. Do you like doing enough similar things to enjoy yourselves yet challenge each other enough to keep things interesting? Do your strengths and weaknesses balance each other out? Are you inspired to do the little things to make the other’s life easier? Finding my travel partner was finding my life partner, and vice versa. Can’t wait to see more of the world with you. ❤️❤️❤️
And even if you don’t do the hike, be sure to find a good spot to watch the sun set. There’s a free bus that runs along the South Rim and we took it to this unbelievable spot. To this day I don’t think we’ve seen a clearer sunset.
Let us know if you have any questions, or want to suggest other
dangerously long amazing hikes!