BY GABE LICHT
DELANO, MN About 6 million people visit the Grand Canyon annually.
About 1 percent of them hike to the bottom, David Krause said.
He and his daughter, Lindsay, are now in the latter group, as they hiked “rim to rim” in early October.
“That felt pretty good that we were able to do something not all people are able to do,” David said.
The Krauses joined three other friends, ranging in age from late 20s to 70s, to hike the canyon.
They drove from Las Vegas to the south rim and took a five-hour shuttle ride to the north rim. After spending the night, they began their descent at 4 a.m. They did so because they were worried about the heat at the bottom of the canyon. It started out at 32 degrees at the top and rose to 90 degrees at the bottom of the canyon. Some portions of the canyon can be as hot as 140 degrees, he said.
It took about nine hours to hike the North Kaibab Trail, which measures about 14 miles and has a 6,000-foot elevation change. It was not a cakewalk.
“The first three hours were pretty tough because it’s basically straight down,” David said. “Going down was harder than going up. Most people think it’s the opposite way. It’s harder on the legs. There is sand, gravel, and hard rocks. The surface is constantly changing, so you have to be careful with your footing. It wears people out.”
Just three miles in, David started struggling, and he attributed part of that struggle to not eating breakfast before beginning.
“I got wobbly legs at mile three,” he said. “Once I was able to take a break, drink some electrolytes, and eat something, I was fine. It was amazing how it went after I ate. We took 15-minute breaks every couple hours.”
They had to balance taking in the beauty of the canyon with being safe.
“Do you look up to see the beauty or down at where you’re going? You have to stop to take in the beauty of the canyon. The views are unbelievable,” David said.
At the bottom, they were able to stay two nights at the Phantom Ranch to recuperate.
“It’s a 13-month lottery process,” David said. “You have to plan for the next year. We were awarded our spot at about the one-year mark.”
While there, they spent time near the Colorado River and taking in the rustic nature of their surroundings.
“There was no Wi-Fi, no cell access,” David said. “You really are just connected to nature. It’s fun to sit and let nature come to you. Watching the stars was unbelievable.”
He also spent time watching the mules, who carried items in and out of the canyon.
“It’s how things have been done since the 1920s,” David said. “There is a lot of nostalgia.”
After their stay, they started their seven-mile excursion back up the canyon.
“We went up the Bright Angel Trail,” David said. “The elevation change was 4,500 feet. Most of that took place in the last three miles.”
They saw their fair share of wildlife, including a California Condor, mule deer, and goats.
There was a social aspect to the hike, as well.
“We met a lot of great people, including Minnesotans,” David said.
Trail runners especially impressed him.
“I’ve run six marathons,” David said. “This is totally different because of the elevation changes and the terrain being so different from sidewalks and streets.”
He encourages others to try the hike.
“If you think you’re physically able, I recommend you do it,” David said.