I am not an expert. I have done the Grand Canyon Rim To Rim Extreme Day Hike, two times so far. Both were successful, fun, medically uneventful trips. In 2008, we hiked South Rim to North Rim, in 2011, north to south. The first trip included four hikers. The second trip was nine. My partner and I did the many logistics for the second trip. We hike in Vermont’s Green Mountains, New York’s Adirondacks, and New Hampshire’s White Mountains. That is my credential and my disclaimer.
In preparation for the first trip, I did the research to learn about the trail, get advice for training and what to carry. Many sources said “Do not hike it in one day. You might die.” Information was sparse. This is my effort to shed some light on a once-in-a-lifetime-fantastic and potentially very dangerous hike.
Rim to Rim, as an extreme day hike, is do-able. There, I said it. If you like to hike, if you do the training, if you don’t underestimate the distance, terrain, or heat, there is no hike like it. It is a 25 mile walk, and a lot more. It can be done by mere mortals who take the challenge seriously.
For my 50th birthday, I wanted to do it again. The original four grew to eleven….ten hikers and a driver. Since I did not want us to need rescue and I did not want any regrets, my partner and I created “The Trail Mix”. This was our newsletter to motivate ourselves and the group -- to get to the canyon, and to reach the other side. We created an issue of The Trail Mix every few weeks before the trip and these will be posted on this page.
Nine of us successfully made the hike. One member opted out. She realized, when looking into the canyon from that short rock wall at the South Rim, her fear of heights was overwhelming. The decision was sad but wise. She can run a marathon with ease and she really wanted to do the canyon. It took a lot of courage to not go with us that morning.
Our demographics: mid 40s to nearly 60, all female, one ordinary runner and two marathoners, half of us hiked regularly and fewer than half were regulars at a gym. We were from Alaska, Arizona, California, Illinois, and Vermont. Some of us trained in the mountains of the Northeast while others could only walk hill repeats in Chicago. One had to train in the relentless summer heat in Phoenix. One was a UPS driver spending 10 hours each day on her feet, carrying really heavy boxes. She did not train at all. Among us were an Episcopal priest, an urban planner, a chiropractor, a corporate IT/accounting guru, a State court administrator, a jack of all trades practice manager, a veterinarian, and a full time mom. Our driver was a juvenile correctional officer/Iditarod dog musher who wanted to see the Grand Canyon and spend time with friends. Only my partner and I knew everyone in the group when we arrived in Phoenix.
Good luck on your hike. Work hard. Do your best. Do not go unprepared.
It is a fantastic journey if you go in understanding what you need to do to get out.