It was time. Time to leave the North Rim.

Either by foot or by shuttle, I was no longer content sitting still.

My ankle wasn’t perfect, but I could walk without limping; the discomfort had moved to my lower shin, and could be targeted by stretching.

My alarm went off at 5:45, and 10 minutes later I began to pack up. I stopped off at the campground bathroom to wash my face, brush my teeth, and I was off.


By the time I got to the trailhead, it was 7.

I had already walked at least 1, and I had 22 miles to go. Wasn’t it 22? It didn’t matter. I was off.

The goal was to go down into the Grand Canyon and come up the other side. 14 down, the rest back up.


I cruised down the canyon, with intermittent rain. At times, pellet size hail would come down. Others would stop to rest; I had a timeframe.

12 hours, in order to get to the south rim right at sun down.

5 to get to the bottom.

Phantom Ranch Canteen

The campsites in the canyon are few, and in high demand. I was expecting something extremely nice, potentially with hot water, and vivid views; neither of these existed. In fact, the Phantom Ranch lodge is kind of sad. It’s more about being in the Grand Canyon than anything else.

At the ranch, I met a French guy. He demonstrated some ankle exercises.

20 minutes to rest, and back on it.

I notice a water spigot. I should refill my water. Surely there will be another one before I actually ascend.

Colorado River

I pass by the beach, where I could filter and fill up water - surely there will be another water. The French guy said there would be.

Now, I have the means to know whether there would be water sources. About a mile up the trail, I realized he was talking about another trail.

2 miles up the trail I’m out of water.

I only have 4 more miles to go, so it shouldn’t be bad. Normally that would be correct, except I’m climbing out of the Grand Canyon.

I look at the elevation. I have about 6000 feet to climb. All steep switch backs.

I knew it would be a chore.

I knew it was going to be tough.

A fitting place to give up

I knew.

But I didn’t know.

The other day, Joe implored me to take the alternate trail - Bright Angel. There’s water, and it’s not nearly as steep, he said. Joe was looking out.

No, I had to take the Arizona trail route.

So I did.

Some would say I should have listened to Joe. With my messed up ankle. My body certainly would have agreed with him at mile 19.

No one else was traveling south bound on this trail. I passed lots of people coming down. Their only concern was not falling.

Step. Step. Should I rest. Just. One. More. Step.

Ok now rest. No water. Catch my breath.

Step.


Step.

The views were...grand. At times, they were difficult to look at: so much to focus on. So much input. It was vast; everything worthy of a photo, a video.

I see the top.

I get there; another range of switch backs come into view.

I check the map. I’m not quite half way there.

$#*!

Why didn’t I get water.

Maybe if I pick up the pace, or even run.

Nope. That was exhausting.

Slow, steady pace.

Step.

Step.

More switch backs.

There’s a ridge with an emergency telephone. A man is walking away from it back to his friends.

He says my pack looks heavy. It does, but it’s not.

The sun has almost set.


I’m 3/4 of the way there.

Only 2 point something miles to go.

1000 feet to climb.

Rest.

Step.

Step.

I almost slip. It’s a canyon, and the fall would be unfortunate.

What’s that sound? A helicopter? Yes. A helicopter is heading towards the emergency phone ridge. I wonder what was wrong. No matter what it was, they probably didn’t need their water. I should have asked.

It’s completely dark now, and the moon is obscured by clouds, so I have very little light. Enough to see each step, though.

A man is strolling down in a sun hat, a short sleeve shirt, and a water bottle.

He asks how I’m doing.

I would normally say, “Awful and I hate everything and also your face”, but that takes a particular sense of humor to understand.

I’m almost done!

“Yes you are. Rim to rim?”

Yes.

“Nice”

I can’t for the life of me figure out what he was doing. I was bundled up, and working hard, generating heat. His short sleeve shirt was not enough to handle the temperature drop in progress.

I should have asked.

If he was going down, he had miles to go, in the dark.

It didn’t seem like a reasonable action.

I should have asked him for some water.

After further thought, I decided he’s an angel, checking up on me.

There’s the top. I can’t run. I can only move slowly.

More hidden switch backs.

Keep.

Going.

And...

Boom.

I made it.

I’m here.

11.5 hours after I began.

There’s a fork, and in the dark it’s not quite clear which way to go.

I hear a vehicle - a bus! That’s the shuttle! It’s pulling away!

I try to run.

I...can’t.

I limp toward it as it goes out of view. The schedule says that is the last bus.

I slump on the sidewalk, happy that I made it. I'm exhausted, and I tear up a little, sad that I missed the bus.

Then I remember there should be water, and happily fill up. 2 liters of water downed immediately, and 3 liters filled up.

I sit down for while. I wonder if that guy is coming back up? Maybe he can give me a ride.

Or maybe he really is an angel and has been whisked somewhere else, his task complete.

I wait for a while to no avail. I guess I’ll walk to town.

What’s another 2 miles?

The trail is dark, but very tailored - some of it paved. It’s quite luxurious, and the moon is out, lighting the way.

I hear Cedrick, but I’m not afraid. I had other concerns today.

There’s a general store, but it closed 1/2 hour ago. I have a small bag of raisins left, and that will have to do.

The campground has some slots left.

They’re awful, and I hate their face. Full of sharp rocks, the ground is clearly meant for RVs and bulky tents. I do my best to clear out the most harmful rocks, and set up my tent.

I’ve changed into my wool night clothes, and climbed into my quilt.

One last thing for the day.

Plug in my watch and phone, and check my activity.

62,794 steps.
30.23 miles.
340 flights of steps.

Rim to rim.

My biggest mileage day yet.

Half of it with no water.

Not bad.

Days Since Debilitating Injury 3