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GRAND CANYON RIM TO RIM HIKE, SEPT 13-21, 2003, By Bill Huggins

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The hikers are, from left: Bill Huggins (age 74), Phil Roberts (age 69) and Al Roberts (age 70).

The phone call from Phil came sometimes in June announcing the Grand Canyon trip for 2003. A rim to rim hike? He's got to be out of his mind! We've all pulled so many calendars off the wall that we're entitled to view the worlds most spectacular sight from the rim like all the rest of the three score and ten age bracket do. Rim to rim! No way. Being polite as Nancy insists I be, I listened attentively and gave the impression of being interested. When the conversation ended and the phone was hung up, that's when the short-term memory kicked in and I wanted to be included. Forgotten was the 73rd birthday, the arthritic knees, being overweight and out of condition, and most of all the twelve-hour hike out to the South rim in 2002 in 115 degree temperature. The decision was made. I'm gonna go!

The hikers were to be Al, Phil, Steven (their nephew) and Bill. Our regular hiking partner, and founder of our Grand Canyon Hiking Club, Bob Groves, was ailing this year from a bout with vertigo and lingering effects of a severe leg infection. We attempted to persuade Bob to go by telling him how easy the hike would be. Being an experienced canyon hiker, he knew we were lying. Bob's decisions are always chiseled in stone, so I knew he wouldn't be going with us.

As the time drew nearer and plans were being finalized, the excitement index rose. Better start getting in shape, not the "round" one. My conditioning began with a trip to Alaska with all the culinary delights that are included with such an adventure. We did take the stairs instead of the elevators.

Upon arrival back into the real world, I knew I better start walking the hospital stairs and around the lake to revive the muscles required for canyon hiking. I did good for a while, saw Phil on the stairs a few times, then I lost 9 days of conditioning due to some undiagnosed upper respiratory ailment. After that bout, conditioning was resumed until time to go.

Then we got the news that Steven had injured or broken his leg or foot or something and would not be going with us. And now there were three. But we would not be deterred. Reservations were already made, monies sent, plane tickets in hand, and provisions on hand. We were on our way.

Word was received that Bob would meet us on the South Rim and drive us around to the North Rim where we were to start our hike. We were excited by this prospect and looked forward to seeing and being with him. The next day the bubble burst by Bob's change in plans due to conflicts in his son's schedule. Fortunately Al had not canceled our reservations for the van trip to the North Rim.

The morning of Saturday the 13th of Sept found us at the Albany airport ready to depart. Priscilla came with Phil, and Nancy drove me for the farewells. Good wives. I wonder if they thought they would never see us again? After having my pocketknife and scissors confiscated from my brief case (I could have sworn they were in my back pack) we were cleared for take off. The Federal Agent offered to give my contraband to those two "elderly" ladies who had seen us off. I accepted her offer.

The flight to Atlanta was pleasant and uneventful. We deplaned, leaving none of our belongings on the aircraft. A two hour wait over was spent drinking coffee and eating a blueberry muffin, half expecting to be served a breakfast on the flight to Phoenix. Ha! Breakfast consisted of a paper sack containing something that we both rejected. The muffin served us well.

The flight to Phoenix was also pleasant and smooth. A little under four hours. We deplaned, grabbed a quick bite at one of the in terminal burgerdoodles, and on to claiming our luggage and getting the rental car. When we got to the luggage claim, no one was there. We were momentarily puzzled. A quick search revealed our stuff piled over in a corner. They had apparently given us up as missing or lost.

On to the rental agency to pick up the prearranged for car. The lady then broke the news to us that since we were going to the Grand Canyon we would need a six cylinder auto instead of the four cylinder model that we had reserved. We certainly didn't want to break down for lack of power going up hill. We fell for it and rented the more powerful model for the astounding low price of only $160.00 more. We declined her offer of the additional insurance at $37.00 per day figuring if necessary we could buy the car if we broke it. The rental fee did include the steering wheel and four tires. Horn included.

Onward and upward to the Grand Canyon to meet Al at the Yavapai Lodge sometime around five or six o'clock. We stopped only for coffee and to switch drivers. Al was waiting in line to check in when we spotted him. After check in, we put our stuff in the room and began rearranging our equipment for the humpteenth time. About this time Phil discovered he, not Priscilla, had the keys to his car that was parked at the Albany airport. We hoped Nancy took her home. This done, we went for supper at the cafeteria at Yavapia which was a very nice place to eat. We took all our future meals there.

After a good nights sleep we awoke the next morning to finalize our packing and purchase some last minute items. Sunscreen, replacement pocket knife, insect repellant, and Klondike Bars. Al said he had somehow figured a way to take some into the canyon without them melting. I never doubted him for a moment. Al being a former research scientist I figured he could do it.

We were on time to meet the van at 1 o'clock that was to take us to the North Rim. A five hour trip which seemed shorter because we enjoyed the scenery so much. Arriving at 6 o'clock, we checked into our cabin that was located about as far away from the restaurant as possible and still be in the Grand Canyon. But after all, we were about to embark on a much longer walk. Phil said we were tough. Al distanced himself from Phil and me by putting us in a separate room. Something about a rumor that was spreading concerning snoring. Only a rumor I'm sure. We inquired about reservations for the main dining room and were told we could be seated at 8:45. After much discussion and weighing all the facts it was decided to eat in the formal dining room as it might be our last good meal for a while. It was a good decision as the food was as good as we remembered from the past. We turned in early in order to be fresh for what was to come tomorrow.

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