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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Grand Canyon Part 7

I rolled into the last "water stop" up the North Rim feeling like absolute and utter dog shit. So, when the woman sitting down near the spigot, cheerfully asked me... "how ya doin?" I responded with a "pretty fucking awful." I started to make my way over to the spigot and she kept on talking and then I realized... uhhh.. fuck. She's a Park Ranger.

I get it. Dumb yahoos like me go to the Grand Canyon everyday in the summer trying to do something that they aren't prepared for. Whether they are trying to do the R2R2R, the R2R, or even just hiking a mile down the fucking rim and trying to get back. It can be dangerous... even for those who are prepared. But, when I've ran/hiked/hobbled for 21ish miles already and I've still got another 1400 feet to go in less than 2 miles the last thing I want to hear about is how many people they've had to rescue last week or whatever.

She asked me if I was planning on doing the R2R2R. I told her yes, trying my best to perk up and look alert and happy and awesome. She started on about how hard it is, how it's just going to get hotter and harder as the day goes on, how just doing the R2R is hardcore enough and how if I'm not feeling anywhere near 100% right now, that I should stop at the North Rim and take the shuttle back to the South Rim.

I could not get out of there fast enough. I didn't even fill my handheld up enough because her bad mojo was bringing me wayyyyy down. I smiled and nodded during all her warnings... "yes, I know." I kept saying to her. But damn, she would not shut up. It's a good thing I was beat, because I considered tossing her off the side of the fucking canyon. All I wanted to say.. was... "can you just shut up and let me fill my water bottle in peace, thank you?"

Again, I KNOW, she's just doing her job and trying to take care of people. I get it. But good lord, I couldn't get out of there fast enough.

I had a new resolve... She doesn't know me. She doesn't know what I've done. How tough I am. I can do this. I am going to do this. YES. I was starting to feel much, much better. The North Rim was less than 2 miles away and I was hiking the fastest I had in over an hour.

What's that she said about a shuttle???? I don't need no stinking shuttle. Pretty soon, I'll be hiking down and all will be better.

And then not 20 minutes after I had left her, I fell down to the ground of the trail. My right calf seized up on me and starting cramping. It immediately brought me down.. Now, this has happened to me before (Stage Race a couple of years ago) and I knew, that if I could just get in a position to flex my foot, that the cramp would subside. As I tried to do that, I must have janked my left calf in a weird position, because, then that SOB starting cramping too.


Here I was, about a mile from the top of the North Rim, writhing around on the ground, trying to get into a position of flexing both my feet, to get the cramps to stop... all the while mindful that I was about 7000 feet up and if I writhed 12-14 inches the wrong way, I would be lunch for some buzzards in the bottom of the canyon.

Finally, after an excruciating 5 minutes that felt more like 20 minutes, I got one foot flexed and then was able to get the other one. I gingerly stood up and started walking again.

And that folks... That did it for me. It was then, that I realized I hadn't drank NEARLY enough. I was dehydrated. I hadn't had to refill my pack bladder once since Phantom Ranch and I'd never even finished my whole handheld at any points of the trail, yet. DUMB, DUMB, DUMB. Total amateur. And while, sure... I could take 20-30 minutes at the top of the North Rim and rehydrate and refuel, but I was too scared of being a liability to the rest of my group for the rest of the day. Plus... who KNOWS what could happen in the bottom of the canyon. The park ranger was right. It wasn't that I couldn't do it, I knew I could. But, I SHOULDN'T continue on that day.

Going into this trip, I never wanted to be the weakest link. I never wanted to feel like the group was waiting around on me. Obviously, because of my ego. But, also... because the longer you are out there... the more dangerous the day becomes. If I held everyone back and they had to be out there hours longer just because of me... that was hours longer that something could go wrong.

I didn't know exactly what I would do. I had $38 dollars on me (I had heard that Phantom Ranch had lemonade and cool shirts, if they happened to be open when we went by), but I figured there would be some way that I could make it back to the South Rim without going through the canyon.

At that point, I was pretty defeated. I knew I was making the right decision... but obviously, that doesn't make it any easier. I had been planning and getting excited for this trip for MONTHS now. And I wasn't going to finish it. I wasn't going to have that experience with everyone else or even for myself.

When I was almost to the top of the North Rim, I met Melissa coming back down and the guys were right behind her.

"I'm done." I told her. I told her that I couldn't be a liability and they all needed to just hurry and get back down the canyon. They had waited enough already on me.

There was some discussion on the trail of whether or not everyone should just quit. But, I was ADAMANTLY against that. This was MY problem. They needed to continue on, and I would figure out what the hell I was going to do on my own. I kept trying to shoo them off, but they had been talking to a few guys at the top and apparently, they had heard about the shuttle, too. They insisted that they walk back up to the North Rim with me and find out about the shuttles.

And The KoB looked at me and my dusty/dirty legs and shorts and said... "were you laying on the ground at some point?" 

"Uh... I was actually writhing around on the ground, but yes." I replied.

Turns out... there are shuttles that take you from Rim to Rim. You are encouraged to pre-book those tickets and they cost around $85. One of the guys had an extra ticket that he was willing to give me and after it was decided that these were legit dudes, I tried to memorize The KoB's phone number (I failed) and sent them off back down the trail. I told them I'd see them at the South Rim in a few hours.

After 9 hours and 23 miles on the trail, my day was done. I was exhausted, embarrassed, sad, and disgusted with myself. And all I had was time... lots and lots of time to think about it all. I had about 90 minutes before the shuttle was to pick us up and then there was a 4 hour shuttle ride ahead of me...

Part 1
Part 2 + Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6


Carina said...

Wow, I wasn't expecting that! I can only imagine how miserable and disappointed you felt, but on the bright side, sounds like it would have been all the same scenery on the way back, right?

I actually did "lol" when I read about you trying to tell them to go down without you and that you'd figure out the shuttle thing solo -- honestly, would you have let anyone you know get away with that? Leaving them to go solo to see if there really is a shuttle? Good friends for not letting you convince them!

But how does KOB not know what his phone number spells? Or is that only me who has done that with every phone number I've ever had since third grade?

Either way, it sounds like this was a massive undertaking, you got to see some amazing sights and scenery, and had an experience you'll always remember. You're both lucky to have gotten to do it and smart for not risking it turning into a mess.

Amy said...

Hahahaha... So true about the same scenery (Although, different angle, I suppose).

PHONE NUMBER SPELLS! Wow, I hadn't thought of doing that in forever. I am going to go do that now for my number and his! good call!