Clair and me in Havasupai, Grand Canyon, 2003
Where ignorance is bliss, 'Tis folly to be wise.
I made the decision to go with my buddy Clair on a Rim to Rim Grand Canyon hike almost instantly. When he (more accurately, his sister) proposed back in April that a group of us do this trek, my thinking went:
- I've hiked the Grand Canyon a number of times at the Havasupai Reservation and enjoyed it.
- My calendar for September is open.
- I have frequent flyer miles to use.
- I need a physical challenge and it would be fun to spend some time with one of my best friends.
And here is what I found out only after doing just a little research and letting life intrude ...
- The Rim to Rim Trail (Kaibab from the North Rim to the Colorado River, then the Bright Angel Trail up to the South Rim) is a four-day, 25 mile trek. (Havasupai was two half-day hikes separated by a couple nights camping.)
- There is a 5,000 foot elevation loss (500 flights of stairs) over the first two days of hiking; there is a 4,000 foot elevation gain the last two days of hiking. (Havasupai elevation change was 2,000 feet down and back up.) People commonly lose all their toenails on the downhill jaunts. And I am guessing many lose their will to live on the uphills.
- The temperature in the Grand Canyon area varies in September from below freezing on the North Rim to well over 100 degrees down in the Canyon.
- One guide book of "classic hikes" rates the Rim to Rim a three on a scale of one to three in difficulty. It rates the Inca Trail a one. The Inca Trail nearly did me in.
- People die of dehydration on this hike. And hypothermia. And snakebite. And abrupt deceleration that comes at the end of falls from great heights.(It's not the fall that killed him; it was the sudden stop.)
- I realized that I am six years older and probably 20 pounds heavier than I was the last time I hiked the Canyon.
- I've had three speaking engagements come up and a book draft to review this month. And I am program chair for the state library/tech conference. Oh, and that pesky day job seems to be keeping me busy.
So I ask myself, had I known in April what I know now, would I have so readily forked over the substantial deposit for this little adventure? Are we humans happier in our ignorance than we are in our knowledge?
But then would we do anything in life if we knew all the facts ahead of time?
I've continued my three-mile noon walks, but now wear hiking boots and carry a 25lb pack in training. The hike begins a week from this coming Sunday.
So far I have kept all my toenails.
(One encouraging thing is that in the book Hikernut's Grand Canyon Companion, hikernuts are recreation enthusiasts, not a medical condition.)