Steve and Hunter hiked rim-to-rim of the Grand Canyon last year and when Steve got home he was hobbling around the house and declared he would never hike it again.

And just like childbirth, the pain and discomfort of the hike started to fade away and early this summer he started talking about the hike again. A large group from our neighborhood was planning another trip and Steve was looking forward to training again. Unfortunately, with club sports, the weekend everyone decided to go wasn’t going to work for our family. So Steve crossed the idea off the calendar. But he didn’t want to cross it off! He wanted the motivation that comes from preparing for a large hike. He was able to find a weekend that worked with a few friends and the hike was back on the calendar – but modified. Instead of rim to rim, they planned on South Kaibab to Bright Angel trail – a solid 17+ miles in one day.

Steve trained a good amount. Hallie was planning on joining and during her training (running bleachers) she quickly realized her tennis injury to her hip two years ago was not going to hold up for the hike – she bowed out. Hunter is playing two sports right now and did absolutely zero training. Bennett was originally on the list to go – but he’s been dealing with some foot issues so we figured it was best for him to stay back. But he didn’t want to stay back – he felt he could do the hike and last minute was added back to list when a girl his age joined the group with her dad.

These are the views that entice someone to come back year after year!

They arrived Friday evening with just enough time to enjoy the beautiful sunset over the canyon.

Early the next morning they were up and at the shuttle. They started out great – they basically ran all the way in – easier on the knees to run downhill than to walk. They saw animals, marveled at the scenery, and felt pretty good about their overall pace.

But you can only feel so good while hiking, right? Bennett started to get frustrated and wondered why he fought so hard to join this crazy party. But he kept hiking. The teenagers were in better shape than the adults and they started to pull away as Steve slowed to the pace of his friend who started to struggle. And the struggle just got worse. Dehydration. Vomiting. Cramping. Stopping for frequent breaks. They were expecting to be in the car driving by 3pm and they were no where close. At this point I was getting text messages from Steve…2 miles left. Over an hour later…1 mile left.

Around this same time I got a text from one of the adults saying he had made it out with Hunter and Bennett and the girls. Hunter later informed me one of the girls started struggling the last mile and a half so Hunter was carrying his pack, some of Bennett’s water and he threw her pack on his front. All that tennis and soccer is paying off!

They were able to get showers and clean up while waiting for Steve and his friend to make it out. And almost an hour and a half later, the whole group was out of the canyon. Nothing short of a miracle for how much our friend was struggling mid way through the hike. Steve was genuinely worried about him. To be clear – this hike is not for the faint of heart and especially not for the untrained heart. These teenagers are all athletes and even for them it was difficult.

To say everyone was pretty sore would be an understatement. Hunter is by far the least sore in our family. His quads were tender but overall feeling okay. Bennett is still struggling to walk normal! The morning after the hike we all went to church and none of them could hide their aches and pains. And walking up the stairs to their bedroom was just comical. Bennett has already sworn off ever hiking it again. Hunter has already committed to next year. And I’m not sure where Steve falls on the spectrum!

After hearing their stories I was satisfied with my decision to stay home and shuttle kids to their games.