Robbie and I pulled into the north rim of the Grand Canyon after dark and slept in the car in the parking lot. The next morning we checked out the signs for the various hikes. One particular poster caught my eye. It read "Never try to hike from the rim to the river and back in one day. Many who tried suffered serious illness or death." This of course referred to the 45 km hike down the canyon to the little Colorado river and back (climbing down an altitude of about 5000 feet and then back up). This sounded like a good challenge. We set off knowing that we probably couldn't do it but would go until time allowed for getting back to the car before dark.
We set out at a rapid pace into the canyon and made it to the river at about noon (so 4 hours of hiking down). The good thing about making it to the end was the fact that we had no choice but to walk all the way back. The hard part was that the way back was uphill and under the scorching sun.
We set out at a pretty good pace and got within a couple miles of the top – absolutely destroyed. By this point it was a mind battle. It was starting to hit dusk already (the hike back took more than double the first time). Every part of me wanted to fall down and die. That is when the hallucinations started. Probably triggered by lack of water and food (and 12 hours of constant hiking). I never waivered far enough to fall off the cliff but there was a couple times where I could have. The process sounds easy enough – take 20 steps, sit down and take a breather, then get up and do it again – but after 2 hours of this it turned into 5 steps, lay down and gasp for air then push up with all your might to continue (against the wishes of every muscle in the body).
Nearly crawling, we made it to the top just before night. I had planned to break into chearing and several choruses of "we are the champions". It just didn't matter though – I just wanted to die. We wobbled over to a restaurant and downed a huge greasy pizza. That hit the spot and it was time to sleep in the car and see what could be conquered the next day.