I Hiked the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim and Could not Stroll for Days

Simply 4 days earlier than the New Yr, my toenail breaks off the nail mattress on my large toe. It turned black three months earlier whereas trekking 24 miles on a Grand Canyon rim-to-rim hike—my health problem of 2019. I’d been impressed by Steve-O, who marked 2018 as his fittest yr by finishing a triathlon.

That’s how I discovered myself in Arizona on the finish of August–a time frame when no sane particular person willingly enters the state as temperatures soar above 114 levels. Naturally, that’s when REI Adventures had openings on their Grand Canyon backpacking journey.

There was a warmth wave after I arrived in Phoenix. My mom, who’s lived within the space for greater than 30 years mentioned solely two phrases after I instructed her my plan, “You’re loopy.”

After driving from Scottsdale and tenting in a single day close to the North Kaibab path, we set out after 3 a.m. to restrict our solar publicity in the course of the 14-mile journey to Phantom Ranch, a lodge on the backside of the Canyon. I grew up mountaineering practically each weekend in Phoenix. I’d climbed the best peak within the state a number of years earlier. I faithfully went to the gymnasium 4 days per week and ran a 10K simply days earlier than my journey. All that's to say I assumed I used to be ready.

“I’ve received this,” I assumed to myself.

And I did—for the primary half. I stored tempo with Lisa, an enthusiastic hiker who handled our journey as nothing greater than a bit nature stroll. She commonly completes 15-hour hikes again residence in California together with her pal, Donna, who was additionally in our tour group.

However my swagger—and fast tempo—didn’t final lengthy. Seems, I didn't have this.

I’d like to proclaim that respiratory within the desert air gave me a recent perspective on life. I’d prefer to boast concerning the pure pleasure that swelled in my coronary heart after wanting up on the towering mountains surrounding me.

Melissa Matthews

In actuality, the sprawling canyon, which I admired at daybreak, grew to become a vacuous jail by 10 a.m. The phrase, “Are we there but?” performed on repeat as I willed myself to not complain.

Strolling downhill appears simple, however it's not—all that strain strains your toes and ankles.

My tempo slowed. My ego deflated. I puzzled whether or not crawling went in opposition to mountaineering etiquette.

Twenty-five thousand steps later, we made it to Phantom Ranch. That wasn't sufficient of a exercise for Lisa.

"I do not take into account it an actual hike until I stroll no less than 30,000 steps," she mentioned.

Dallan, our information, advised we stroll to the Colorado River, to spice up our step depend. He promised it might solely take 10 minutes.

"We're gonna do what?," I assumed, however hobbled behind the group. As soon as there, I laid on the blazing scorching shore, which felt indulgent in comparison with mountaineering. Donna scored her steps on the stroll again to the lodge.

The subsequent morning, my ankles throbbed. Within the toilet, I fell on the bathroom whereas attempting to face. Panic set in.

“I may stay at Phantom Ranch and work away my housing debt, since I’ll be caught right here perpetually,” I mused. “Or possibly I’ll be a kind of hikers who're helicoptered out of the mountain.”

The embarrassment of both situation pressured me to lace up my mountaineering boots and end with the tour group.

Making my approach up the Grand Canyon on the second day.
Melissa Matthews

I used to be semi-invigorated by the uphill battle. Climbing up mountains has at all times been my favourite a part of mountaineering. I thrive on heart-pounding, gasping-for-breath cardio. The fireplace in my legs from conquering a stone staircase is extra satisfying than any Stairmaster-induced burn. I stumbled alongside the 10-mile path in a love-hate haze.

To distract myself from the ache—and sweat seeping into each bodily crevice—I assumed up new methods to deal with myself as soon as I escaped the desert. I contemplated the very first thing I’d drink: Food plan Coke. I dreamed of fuel station gummies. I imagined consuming a large slice of frosted cake with my Coke. It gave the impression of heaven.

After hours of climbing, I noticed a peculiar sight: denim-clad hikers holding Starbucks cups.

“What’s taking place?” I requested Dallan. “Why are folks strolling by like that is the scenic path to the Starbucks parking zone?”

He defined that almost all guests stroll into the Grand Canyon for a couple of minutes, snap some pics, and go away. This meant we have been getting near the park entrance.

Elation spurred me ahead each time I handed folks sipping iced espresso. After which I heard one thing downright magical.

“Are you able to hear me now?” somebody mentioned into their cellphone initially of the path.

I made it.

It took two days of recovering at The Phoenician earlier than I may stroll once more. I flung off my mountaineering boots the second I entered my room. Within the bathe, I scrubbed away all traces of the desert. My first night time again in civilization was celebrated with a scorching tub, room service, which included cake and Food plan Coke, and laying down. I would by no means been so grateful for crisp, white sheets and a mushy resort mattress.

The subsequent day, I went to the resort's spa for a therapeutic massage and facial. When the therapeutic massage therapist requested if I had any troublesome spots, I discussed my ankles.

“Properly…there actually aren’t any muscle tissues there,” he responded.

To his credit score, the therapist paid explicit consideration to my drained legs and toes, and possibly it’s the ability of the placebo impact, however I felt higher. The remainder of my time was devoted to recovering on the pool, consuming at considered one of my favourite hometown eating places, FnB, and making certain each meal included dessert.

The Phoenician
Melissa Matthews

Again in New York, I typically consider this journey when motivation wanes. In my first post-Arizona exercise class, the group health teacher instructed me her pal cried whereas mountaineering the Grand Canyon. That very same hiker conquered Kilimanjaro with out shedding a tear.

“I’m a survivor,” I mused. The thought carried me by a really robust 45-minute exercise.

Final month in CrossFit, I dreamed of laying on the bottom throughout a WOD consisting of burpees and field jumps.

I felt the power on my toe as I hauled myself off the bottom and thought, “If you happen to hiked the Grand Canyon in the course of summer time, then you may soar on a field in an air conditioned gymnasium.”

Though I depend on this reminiscence at any time when my bodily talents are examined, it is time to discover one other type of motivation. 2020 brings a brand new problem to deal with and a budding pink nail to bruise.

Gear to Hike the Grand Canyon

Patagonia Males's Lengthy-Sleeved Sol Patrol® II Shirt



Shield your self from the shade with this shirt that features SPF. 

Smartwool Merino Sport 150 Brand T-Shirt




This cool, light-weight shirt makes the desert warmth bearable.  

Patagonia Males's Quandary Shorts - 8"




Transfer with ease in these stretchy shorts.  

Smartwool Males's Mountaineering Medium Crew Sock



You will want pair of socks to maintain your toes comfy. 

Osprey Packs Farpoint 55 Males's Journey Backpack


$126.06 (30% off)


Maintain the whole lot simply organized on this Osprey backpack. 

Osprey Hydraulics Reservoir, 3 Liter




Almost everybody you meet on the path could have this pack.  

Vasque Mens Breeze LT Low GTX Gore-tex Waterproof Breathable Mountaineering Boot



$114.11 (24% off)


These light-weight boots are good for mountaineering within the desert. 

Ray-Ban RB4105 Wayfarer Folding Sun shades




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