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A hike in the Grand Canyon – Part 2

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It has been my dream for about 10 years to walk the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim – in my first blog “just a pipe dream?” I talked about some of the preparation, on 28th May 2013 Iain, Ian and myself all travelled to the States – it was happening!

The flight was uneventful – Iain and I didn’t see Ian as he had upgraded and was in a different section of the plane, spirits were good and it was all happening. We were walking on 2nd June, our timings pretty much dictated by the fact that the North rim of the Canyon doesn’t open before 15th May, and quite often later, plus we needed accommodation close to the South rim for when we completed the walk.

Having arrived in LA, we collected our car and Iain drove us safely to Las Vegas where we checked in to Circus Circus. We had chosen this hotel as it was cost effective and on the Las Vegas Strip, for Iain and myself there was no issue about being on or near the strip, however this was to be Ian’s first trip to Vegas and experiencing the Strip is all part of it.

Our first night was a bit of a blur, tiredness kicked in, Long Island Iced Teas kicked in, I developed two massive blisters on my feet and Iain ended up having his phone stolen, not a great start!

Day two was spent experiencing the sites of Vegas on a bus tour, great fun and probably about as much as we could cope with! The heat was relentless, drinking water or Gatorade was essential – although with a hangover from hell, I did indulge in two bottles of coke. Coke and other sodas containing caffeine are not recommended in such intense heat 100 – 110 degrees as they do have a dehydrating effect, the caffeine actually removes more water from the body than the drink contains! We spent the evening at the Rio hotel watching the RatPack is back – a great show!

Thursday morning was spent sorting out a new phone for Iain followed by an afternoon trip to Hoover Dam. The Dam is incredible, the temperature a taste of what was to come, it must have been over 110 degrees. As we walked across the dam there was little to no shade, an hour in the heat took its toll on Ian who felt he rapidly became dehydrated & struggled to make it back to the car – good job they had a lift! Always looking for a positive in any event, I concluded this was a good warning sign for all of us – if one hour could have such an effect, imagine what sixteen hours could do! Fortunately Ian quickly recovered and was ready to tuck in to a hearty burger at Hard Rock Cafe – unfortunately it was the worst meal we had!

Friday was spent getting last minute supplies for the journey & packing rucksacks. Ian had been diligent with his research and advised on water / Gatorade / juice quantities required, types of snacks, bars, nuts, fruit etc – he had also brought maps to ensure we stuck to the right path. Between Ian & I we had almost 2 First Aid kits, including a full resuscitation kit (Ian is a senior St John Ambulance First Aider) – rucksacks packed, clothing carefully chosen – we were good to go!

Saturday morning, checked out from Circus Circus – we hit the road – Iain once again at the wheel, his experience of driving in the States was invaluable.

About 90 minutes into the journey we came to an abrupt juddering stop, Ian & I totally unaware of the problem – in fact we had had front tyre blow out which had completely shredded the tyre – I will never know how Iain held the car on the road and brought us to a safe stop on the hard shoulder of the Interstate – we were lucky to be alive, I just thanked God he was driving.

A few hours later we arrived in Jacob Lake for our last meal and overnight stay – it was freezing cold, I’d left all my warm clothes in Vegas, having decided I would have no need for them – I think it must have been me being a bit nesh – Ian & Iain weren’t suffering with the cold! After a late supper we all said goodnight, went and made up our hydration packs and tried to get some sleep – alarms were set for 3.15am – we had to start early to beat the heat.