KOKO (Keep on Keeping on)


Please share with us your Rim to Rim experience and what inspires you to keep on keeping on?

Tell Your Story

  1. Melanie says:

    I just completed my first R2R with my son last month, June 2014. Hiking down into the canyon was always something I dreamed of doing when I first visited the canyon at age 14. 30 years later, I finally had that opportunity. I began planning to do this in September 2013. This included a 2 week vacation from Michigan to Colorado/Utah/Arizona to visit several national parks. My husband and 13 year old daughter had no desire to do this hike. Fortunately my son is always up for some physical challenge.

    Our hike started at the South Rim, South Kaibab Trail. We began at 6:20am and reached the river/Phantom Ranch slightly under 4 hours. We hung out at Phantom Ranch for about 3 hours – trying to avoid the high temps of the day. Eventually, my son got tired of “waiting” and we set out again around 1:30pm (this was against my better judgement). I think temp max was around 106 degrees. Honestly, I do better in this dry heat than I do in 80+ degree HUMID heat that we see in Michigan. I didn’t notice the “Box” being terribly hot compared to the rest of the canyon, which is a good thing. Because shortly after leaving Phantom Ranch, you soon realize you cannot access Bright Angel Creek the higher you climb – the sight and sound of the cool water continues to tease you, but not enough to make me want to hike through heavy brush and over boulders to try to access it! Anyway, we had the right amount of water and sports drink with us, and I am thankful it was not as hot as it can be. We reached Cottonwood Campground shortly before 5pm. Definitely exhausted at this point after our 14 mile day. We got an early start on day 2, 5:30am, to finish our climb up the North Kaibab. We didn’t encounter any people until Roaring Springs – that’s where the crazy rim runners were refilling their water bottles (I am amazed people can actually RUN through the canyon). It was pretty brutal after this point – I considered multiple times of ditching my pack (of course I would NEVER actually do that). Finally, we reached the North rim trail head at 11:30am.

    My training for this consisted of running or using my eliptical trainer daily. I run between 3-5 miles typically. About 6 weeks before the hike, after all of the snow had finally melted around Michigan, I began alternating a run with hiking – using a pack loaded at about 22 pounds. From a cardiovascular standpoint, I’m in great shape. Mentally, I had read as much information as I could to prepare for this and told myself it was going to be HARD. Of course you don’t know how hard (or what that will FEEL like) until you’re doing it. But overall, I think I was as prepared as I could have been for this.

    I’ve had a lot of people ask me, “would you ever do this again?” Within the first 2 days following the hike, I would have answered “I don’t think so”. But now, I actually think I would, preferably in September or October. I would hike down the North Rim and stay at Phantom Ranch (if that would even be possible – extremely difficult to get a reservation), and hike up/out the Bright Angel Trail South Rim. This would allow a much lighter pack, which I really think was my breaking point the last 3 miles of our hike.

    This brings me to “what would I do different”. Besides a different route, a lighter pack is a necessity! I had about 30+ pounds in my pack, which was really pushing it for my size. My son carried a much lighter frameless day pack. Being somewhat of an over-protective mother hen, I didn’t want to push him to much by carrying a heavier pack – even though he would have probably been fine. We also took too much food – again, I was worried about keeping my 16 year old boy well-fed. He was somewhat frustrated with me towards the end, due to my frequent stops/rest-breaks, but finally got the message when I told him: “Look, if I don’t stop and rest, I’m not going to get out of here”. Evidently I looked pretty serious when I told him this – he didn’t bug me to not take any more breaks. I personally would have eaten more – I had no appetite on day 2, I think a combination of heat and fatigue. I forced myself to eat a nutrigrain bar that morning. With about 1 mile left of our climb, I stopped and forced down some cheese and crackers.

    Overall, a great experience, and something that I’ll never ever forget. Absolutely no regrets. My son enjoyed the experience (dissappointed he didn’t see any snakes or scorpions) – he turned 16 on day 2 when we hiked out (definitely a birthday he won’t ever forget).

  2. Bob Washburn says:

    My solo rim to rim was planned with typical engineering attention to detail, of course every plan changes when it meets reality. We flew to Vegas for New Years eve (NOT recommended) and drove over and got the permit New Years Day. I varied from the normal R2R route, when I got to Indian Garden instead of going up the Bright Angel to the South Rim, I went down the west Tonto and out Hermit after spending a night at Monument. Phantom Ranch to Monument exceeds the Park’s “safe” distance so I had to fill out the “you are going to die” form listing my canyon experience and what equipment I would be using to aid in SAR.

    I trained all winter and the first of April was in the best shape in years. Then the heel bone spur flared up the Achilles tendon, for the six weeks before arriving at the canyon I couldn’t” hike, swim, or even walk without a rocker boot. Then snow delayed the opening of the North Rim until the day of my departure day. Stayed near Navajo Bridge which caused a late start.

    The melting snow resulted in several ice water showers on the upper North Kaibab. Fortunately there was minimal damage to the trail and the hike to Cottonwood on day 1 and Indian Garden on day 2 were uneventful. On day two it turned hot for mid May, 105+. With the heat and lost training my tail was dragging by the time I got to Phantom.

    With a good rest I was ready to go on day 3 for the long day, about 17 miles as I recall. The report was running water at each drainage on the Tonto. Good news. The climb up to Indian Garden went relatively quickly, but again the lost training was felt. At Indian Garden I sat at the mule corral for about half an hour debating whether to continue or take the short cut up Bright Angel. I decided to stay with the original plan and headed out onto the Tonto,

    This was the second time I’ve hiked solo on West Tonto, it is exquisite. The solitude amongst the majesty has to be experienced to be appreciate. I have yet to meet anyone on the trail on the West Tonto, in the campgrounds yes, but never on the trail, the canyon to myself. However, there is NO shade on the Tonto and the temp was well over 100. When I got to Salt Creek I stopped and rested for a couple hours to recover and avoid the hottest part of the day. I arrived at Monument Creek about dusk. I hadn’t counted on the steep descent into Monument on tired legs and failing light, but made it down safely. I was exhausted.

    On day four, I got a relatively early start, again solitude on the trail. Cathedral stairs was surprisingly easy, but the trail above it seemed to go on forever. I should be at the spring by now. I took a break, sat in the shade, and drank the last of my water. As I was sitting, “Was that a flash of color at the next point?” Resuming the trail, I rounded that point and arrived at the spring. The flash of color was a college student checking to see if any of their party had caught up. They were leaving as I arrived. I pumped water and rested for about half an hour before resuming the climb. I passed the leader of the college group who was working to get two overweight, out of shape boys up the trail. Finally the goal – Hermit’s Rest. While certainly not PC, I’ve described my experience at Hermits as being the black guy at the Jewish country club: everyone is watching you, no one is making eye contact, you are a curiosity, but not enough to talk to. Four days in the canyon, 100+ temps, no shower, and exhausted I must have been a sight. On the shuttle bus a German couple were quite interested and we chatted the whole trip back to the Village. A long hot shower, a long nap, and an Arizona Steak House slab of beef started the recovery.

    I’ve already taken my granddaughter into the canyon and probably in about two years she will be ready to join me for a return R2R

  3. Jack Bennett says:

    I first decided to try R2R in a day with my 2 sons, Dan & Tom, in September 2012. At first, it was a daunting prospect. I am nearly 70 yrs. old and, although a lifelong hiker, had never attempted anything like it. But at the south rim after the hike, I was surprised and little bit disappointed – I didn’t feel nearly as exhausted as I thought I might. I hadn’t suffered enough! That was when I first wondered if I could do R2R2R in a day – for me, an outrageous thought! But I planned and trained, and committed to R2R2R on Nov 10, 2012.

    My wife, Mary Fran, dropped me off at the South Kaibab TH at 1:00 am. My hiking companion had dropped out, so I felt utterly alone heading down into the abyss by headlamp on a moonless night. I was so excited that I hit Phantom Ranch in 3 hrs., 5 min. Just a brief stop to refuel with electrolyte and GU, and I was off up the North Kaibab. I passed Cottonwood and finally stopped for a quick breakfast at Roaring Springs in the steely light of dawn. I walked quickly up to the North Rim 10 hrs., 10 min. after departing, then back down the North Kaibab – half walking, half jogging. Back down at Roaring Springs, the weather was fine overhead, but a strong wind had erupted, blowing sand everywhere, like being inside a sand blaster. I kept a good pace back down to Phantom Ranch, arriving about 5:00 pm. All was well, and I felt OK! I gave Mary Fran a call to pick me up at about 10:00 pm.

    I crossed the Black Bridge and headed up the South Kaibab. The wind howled, and the weather deteriorated, spitting a little rain as I switched my headlamp on half way up to the Tip Off. At the Tip Off a cold wind roared across the point. Rather than stop to regroup and out of warm clothing, I just pressed on – my first mistake! At Skeleton Point the wind was ferocious, nearly knocking me off my feet. I picked up my pace, hoping that would keep me warm. I reached Cedar Ridge in hurricane-force wind. I could only cross on hands and knees! I hit the TH at 9:15 pm – 4 hrs., 15 min, up from Phantom Ranch, and Mary Fran was nowhere to be seen. I was 45 min. ahead of schedule. The wind was ferocious and hail was pelting me. My cell phone was dead (second mistake – don’t leave your cell phone on in the canyon. It will just go dead searching for bars), so I could only wait. By now my hands were claws, too cold to put on warm clothing. So I wrapped myself in a space blanket and sat down to wait. When Mary Fran arrived on time at 10:00 pm, but she didn’t see me – only a bag of trash in the parking lot. Then the bag moved, and staggered toward the car.

    So all’s well that ends almost well. R2R2R in 20 hrs., 15 min. at nearly 70 yrs. old, and I struck a blow for geezers everywhere! If you want to try it, go for it at any age. But do not take it lightly – TRAIN and PREPARE. Excitement awaits!

    Jack Bennett
    Prescott, Arizona

  4. Tom Stone says:

    I wrote a blog article about our hike: http://cabinsbysundance.com/things-to-do-in-blue-ridge/the-mountains/our-grand-canyon-hike.html if you care to read it. We are already planning to return in two years when my youngest turns 13.

  5. David Edwards says:

    A few months before our planned hike north to south rim I suffered my third stroke I am 68 and my hiking buddy is over 70. He came to see me hospital and said `When you get out of here, we’re still doing the hike…right? I gave him the thumbs up and he replied `Good because after you had your stroke, I booked all our motels (gotta love his confidence). We did it and saw such absolutely amazing views. At Cottonwood it was 105F. We stayed overnight at Phantom Ranch, 97F and as we made our final approach to the top, there was snow on the side of the track. This was one of the most exciting hikes I have ever done. A couple of years later as he was in hospital awaiting a triple heart bypass, I asked him the same question. He smiled and then gave me the thumbs up and said “Hell yes” And we did. The point I am trying to make here is that in the face of extreme adversity, never ever give up.

  6. JD Schaefer says:

    The first time in ’04 (I was 58) and we were told by the BCO due to greater than usual run-off where our permit had us going they’d be looking for our bodies in 2-days. We decided to exercise discretion and to do a R2R2R and left at 4-AM from the North Rim. The young guy (40) in the group of 3 was an hour ahead of me and with a half hour to go (at 11:30-AM) to get to Yaki Pt, my friend looked at me and said that I looked like road kill and to learn from the hike but to stay at the South Rim. Since he was driving he offered to pick us up the next day.

    I went back 6-years later with 2-new friends and we left at midnight from the North Rim (should have left at 8-PM). This time it took me 9-hours to get to Yaki but my electrolytes weren’t kicking in and leg cramps convinced me to take the shuttle back to the North Rim. Both times I went it was Memorial Day weekend and the last time it got to 113F at Cottonwood at 3:30-PM. My friends made it after 21-hours but were quite disoriented.

    I’ll try again next month.

  7. It was a incredible hike, our 40th Wedding Anniversary.
    My husband and I had trained but it was nothing like actually doing it. Thanks to a family giving us their extra set of hiking poles on the first day, allowed us to finish. We met the most fantastic people, I had never thought about anyone doing this more than once. I was amazed at how many come back.

    My intent was to be that spot in the world and the Canyon gave me that peace.

Tell Your Story