My son and I returned recently from a trip to the north rim of the Grand Canyon. If you’ve never been there, or have only been to the south rim, I heartily encourage you to go. It is so beautiful, and so different from the south rim. Not only is it 1000+ feet higher, it is also much less crowded-it’s a totally different world. My son and I camped for three notes, and did several grueling hikes (everything is grueling at 8800 feet). The hardest hike for me, both mentally and physically, was the north Kaibab trail. It’s a 7 mile hike down to roaring springs (our turnaround point-you can go another 7 miles to the Colorado river, but that’s a two-day hike). The hike down to the springs is at a 3-6 degree pitch, and while it was okay going down, I knew I had to come back up. Plus,I was hiking with a soon-to-be 17 year-old, who never gets sore from anything….. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to tell Alex that I wasn’t sure I could go any further, but the dang testosterone in me kept me silent. About an hour coming up out of the canyon, I was hurting. My hip flexors, where the quads originate, were burning-badly. and I only had 4000+ feet to go up. I sucked it up as best I could, but after another hour, I was moving like a 90 year-old man. my heart and breathing were fine, just my hip flexors were on fire. I’d walk 30, maybe 40 steps up, rest 10 seconds, then move on. What was most remarkable to me was the games my mind was playing. “You can’t do it-you can do it-you have to do it…..” I was awed by the incredible scenery on the descent, but on the way up, none of that mattered-only making it to the top…..When we got about 500 feet from the top, I was down to taking about 10 steps, but I made it! Phew!!!! I kissed the sign in the parking lot and was so grateful that i kept fit. Exercise enabled me to test myself, and keep a promise to my son, made several years ago. “I will take you on a hike from the north rim, down into the canyon.” And, I kept that promise. I am so proud of myself. I did it. And, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my exercise regimen.
Stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.