Grand Canyon, Arizona. Walking 22 miles from the southern rim into the Grand Canyon and up the northern rim seemed like a simple undertaking. However, the 110+ F temperature added a different element to the task.
After receiving several recommendations to walk across the Canyon at night from very knowledgeable locals, I decided to walk during the day in order to meet and converse with people, take colorful photos of the Canyon, and for safety reasons to not slip and fall down to the bottom.
The sprint down into the Canyon was fairly quick & easy. Once I got a good pace going the only person who passed me was a trail runner, which I thought was cool. I miss running and was actually a little jealous.
3-hours later at the bottom near the Indian Garden I took a nap on the ground, woke up and trekked 5-miles to Phantom Ranch. Phantom is a complex at the bottom of the Grand Canyon that is composed of log cabins, a campground, ranger station, and a canteen.
I chilled at the canteen for a bit drinking several cups of lemonade until my belly ached and talking to Noami, the girl behind the counter. I took another siesta at the eating table, woke, filled my water bottles, and kept trucking.
At this point I had 15-miles to go to reach North Rim and I was seeing less and less people. After wiping dripping sweat from my face several times, I knew things were about to get serious. That trek down to the bottom was to easy for me. They advise park visitors not to go down and come back up in one day, but I'm hard headed and had to do it.
The journey back up to the other side of the Canyon was long, hot, and uncomfortable at times.
Once the sun went down 6-hours after I left the ranch. Shortly thereafter it was completely dark and the Canyon took on another personality.
The colorful landscapes were gone, besides the area in front of me lit by my headlamp all I could see was the black silhouette of the scaling Canyon walls surrounding me beneath the stars and satellites. Seeing the Milky Way spanning across the sky for the first time I realized this was the clearest view I've ever seen of the heavens.
I then stopped took off my pack, sat down, took a ibuprofen, two sips of 5-Hour Energy, and several gulps if water. Cleared my mind while massaging my feet for a bit. I played DJ Shadow's Gi Mix (from "Do Androids Dream of Electronic Beats"), I got up and was ready to go!
With all of the switchbacks and being in the dark, the last 3-miles were the toughest. I seemed to be going nowhere, the elevation would rise then fall for quite some time, and it was extremely frustrating.
"Don't think... be", a Bruce Lee quote and "Battle physically, conquer mentally" line were somewhere in that mix (along with a nice Whitney Houston track) and at that point I was fully engaged going full speed being careful not to slip off the ledge on one of the turns while working my way up.
I finally made it to the top and felt accomplished. I wanted to pass out but the adrenaline was still pumping. Great walk, beautiful scenery -- this is probably No. 4 in this trip's greatest challenges.