I havent taken a vacation in years when all of a sudden I decided that I needed a vacation. Flying to a city like New York, being alone, didnt appeal to me. I wanted to do something that a single person would actually do, normally.
I decided to go to the Grand Canyon and hike, ill prepared as I was. The plan was to spend two days there, hike down the South Kaibob trail up to half way down, use the Tonto trail to connect and go up the Bright Angel trail. I dont remember what was the plan for the second day ..... that second hike would not take place :O
I wore very heavy hiking boot, at the last minute I took a single hiking stick, a heavy backpack, and ................ I didn't cut any of my toenails, which were very long.
All was perfect, I took the first hikers bus to the South Kaibob trailhead; going down canyon was great and fast and I was in close proximity to other people that I assumed would do the same route as me ...... why ? because ALL I READ WAS NEVER HIKE DOWN TO THE RIVER AND BACK, YOU WILL DIE !!!
I arrived at the Tonto trail intersection and I left people pass me to make sure the correct turn was being taken; everyone took the same path, including an old lady with a heavily bandaged knee (no way she was going down to the river). At this point, you know where this story is going.
At one point, a caravan of donkeys was coming up. At least I knew which side to stay on (never corner the animals by taking the outside). After the donkeys, I turned a corner and .................. i saw the fucking Colorado River and then the bridge to the campground. I had hiked down to the fucking river. I was not tired (ha ha ha ha, I managed to over exercise my knees going so fast without realizing it).
I spent 30 minutes resting and decided to leave before everyone else, hoping that they would eventually pass me, except that old lady with the heavily bandaged knee (spoiler: HA HA HA HA).
No map and no GPS, I had no clue how many miles I had to go to the Indian Gardens rest area, so I could count miles and pace myself.
People started passing me and when I got to the Indian Gardens rest area, I was totally spent. At least, I could replenish my water. I stayed there one hour and everyone passed me, except you-know-who (WOO HOO).
The moment I left Indian Gardens, I was a dead duck. I managed to constantly and painfully bump my long toenails against the hard front of my boots, I was getting blisters on the hand that used the hiking pole and I just had no energy left. Looking at the top of the canyon, I started to think "this is not going to happen".
The last 3 miles became a death march and ....................... you, you guessed it, the old lady with the heavily bandaged knee went past me (that woman deserves a medal). I would walk 5 minutes, FIVE MINUTES, and I would have to stop 5 minutes to catch my breath.
I then learned a lesson, walk like an old dude. Literally, take a small step instead of long steps. I think we have stronger and more used muscles when we walk in short steps (like in real life). A hike that started at 7:30am was ending around 6pm, with the sun starting to come down. Yes, it was getting dark and getting cold and I was already thinking that I would have to spend the night on the trail (that is how incredibly tired I was).
Well, I survived, went to the hotel and the next day I could not bend my legs at all (I just went to the Grand Canyon and took the tourist bus to go to all the stops), there was not going to be a second day of hiking.
Remember my toenails ? All black, with blisters all over the place. It took me days to recover my legs and not walk like a stiff. When you ask yourself, have you ever reached your physical limit ? Yes, I have.
So, this was such a HORRIBLE experience that I decided that hiking was going to be my passion from then on ............. sorry, I decline to see a psychiatrist to explain this behavior. I love the mental challenge (yes, I was physically tired, but mentally destroyed at that hike, but that is all I had left .... my mental energy to get out of the canyon ..... where people have died doing the stupid hike I did). I love the views. I love walking into nice people (a lot nicer that regular people) that will help and share stories.
A couple of years later I returned and on one hike I gave away my hiking poles to a little girl that was absolutely exhausted at the Bright Angel trail. Top ten proud moment for me.